Becoming a Photographer – Inspiration

I’m a day late with this post and you almost didn’t get one at all this week, as I’ve been so busy that I swear I’ll catch myself coming back at some point.  I have a draft of the post I was going to write sitting on my USB stick and I’ll have it refined enough to post next weekend, I promise.

In the mean time though, here are some things to inspire you. Inspiration is crucial to any creative person and I believe it’s so, so important to cast your net wide when looking for things to inspire you.

My google reader is full of design, fashion, art and a whole load of other things that inspire me. I’ll post with a link to my favourites at some point.

In the mean time though, two things have really inspired me this week and I want to share them with you.

“I really feel as if the things we create together are not things we devised, but things we discovered, as if, in some sense, they were always there in us, waiting to be revealed, like the figure of Mercury waiting in a rough lump of marble”

This letter from Teller of Penn and Teller to an aspiring magician is full of wisdom and wonderful advice.

Love something besides magic, in the arts. Get inspired by a particular poet, film-maker, sculptor, composer. You will never be the first Brian Allen Brushwood of magic if you want to be Penn & Teller. But if you want to be, say, the Salvador Dali of magic, we’ll THERE’S an opening.

This is so true for all of us. If you aspire to be someone, aspire to be someone outside of your discipline. Look at the way they work and find out how you can apply similar principals to what you do. You’re never going to be the next David Bailey but you can be the next you and taking inspiration from a range of sources will enrich the work that you produce.

The following is an inspirational story that has been doing the rounds on Facebook. Read it. As well as the message stated by the piece, it demonstrates the fact that the intrinsic value of what we do isn’t always obvious. If people are going to value us, we need to provide context and demonstrate what exactly it is we are providing and why they should value it.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Where do you take inspiration from and what do you think about the two things I’ve posted today?


2 thoughts on “Becoming a Photographer – Inspiration

  1. I love that story about Joshua Bell, especially the kiddies being the most interested in the beauty they heard, wanting to stop and soak it in. I fear I miss so much beauty in life as I rush through it. Must try to work on that. x

    • Your comment made me think of this:

      WHAT is this life if, full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare?—
      No time to stand beneath the boughs,
      And stare as long as sheep and cows:

      No time to see, when woods we pass,
      Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

      No time to see, in broad daylight,
      Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

      No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
      And watch her feet, how they can dance:

      No time to wait till her mouth can
      Enrich that smile her eyes began?

      A poor life this if, full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare.

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