First of all, every photo has been taken, essentially. That's actually true. What do they say? More photos get taken in a week now than got taken the first 50 years that cameras were around. Some crazy stat like that. It's shocking how many photos are taken right now.
Here's something I used to do, when I was shooting more. One, you have to find inspiration in places that other people are not looking, right? If you were looking for inspiration on your Instagram, it's not a great place. You can't just go to Tessa's page, and be like, "All right. I got my inspiration." Literally, nobody is going to guess where this inspiration came from. You have to look where other people aren't looking.
That goes back to you being an interesting and interested person. You have to be curious. You have to go down rabbit holes. How much do you know about 1950's avant-garde photography in Paris? I'm sure it exists. There is books on it. Have you looked at those books? Probably not. Have the people that are publishing photos on Instagram looked at those books? No, probably not. There could be some interesting stuff in there.
I used to go to the library in New York City. I got a card that allowed you to make photocopies. I would go to the art books and go to the photography books. They have hundreds there. I would flip through them. I would make photocopies all night of stuff. There was incredible stuff in there that is not on the internet. There are a huge, obviously, a huge amount of photos that aren't on the internet, and certainly, aren't on the Pinterest boards you're looking at.
As the world becomes more controlled by algorithms, it gets harder and harder to introduce surprise into it. Look at what's happening in music, your Discover Weekly. If you're a Spotify user, you listen to the music you listen to, and they build a profile for you. Then, they have your Discover Weekly. Then, that Discover Weekly becomes something that you lean on to listen to new music.
Your vision, insofar as music is concerned, gets tighter, and tighter, and tighter, and tighter, as it becomes more controlled by the algorithm because algorithms don't allow for chance to happen. They don't allow for you to walk into a bar and hear a song that you've never heard and Shazam, it'd be like, "It's this blues magician from the 1940s who was a one-man-band." That isn't going to be put into the algorithm because there is no indication that you would like that, because you're not listening to other blues musicians from the 1940s.
This is a much larger worry of mine in general. It's just that we are getting more boring as a society, as our tastes are driven by algorithms, because you're not pushing yourself to expand your taste. When I was really into music, I constantly was looking to expand the types of music I understood and the types of music I listened to. I don't like death metal, but if I heard there was a new metal album out that was really interesting, I would listen to it, to try and see if I could continue to grow what encompassed my tastes.
Going to libraries is a great way to do that. Looking at books that you've never looked at. Photocopy these stuff. Try and copy it. Understand that the Explore page on Instagram is never going to inspire you, because it's based on shit you already like. Your home page on Pinterest is never going to inspire you because it's based on shit you like. This is why the whole world looks like a $2 Slim Aarons fucking rip off, because everyone is looking at the same shit and taking the same photos, and it's not expanding our taste. We're just like, "Slim Aarons is the only photographer in the world that exists now, it seems like."
I digress. You can get out of that with those paper things that they're bound with glue, or sometimes sewn, if they're really nice. They're called books, people. Look at one. I don't fucking know. One last point on that, Jamie Beck, Ann Street Studio, listen to her episode. Most of her photography, if not all of it, recently has been inspired by painting, renaissance painting. Your work, your photography does not have to be inspired by photography.
I always feel like talking about inspiration is a little like eye-rolley when people are like, "I just like to walk around and travel." I'm so inspired by travel. What the fuck does that even mean, I'm so inspired by travel? Traveling is fun. Going on vacations is fun. The whole, "I'm so inspired by travel" thing, to me is a bore. I think inspiration is a more active pursuit. I think it is something that you have to work at and you have to-- again, you have to put the time to be inspired.
There's a Picasso quote that says inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. You can't just sit around and be like, "Okay, inspiration come to me." You can't just go to Positano and be like, "I'm ready to be inspired." That's right people, it's coming up on summer, which means my fucking war against Positano is about to be waged again. Do not think that I've forgotten about the stain on the Italian coast that is Positano and the stain on Instagram that is the fucking photos from there. I love winter because I don't have to see photos of the same photo from Positano over and over again.
- Pitching 101, Finding Inspiration, Filler Content