A blog reader and podcast listener - Chris from the UK - wrote me an email pointing my attention in the direction of Denis Darzacq's fabulous images of people hovering.
You have to see them to get the idea. They are fantastic.
I did see Darzacq's images already a month-and-a-bit ago along with the video filmed on location while some of them were shot. Great footage and even greater photographs. And I put his style on my "want-to-shoot-list" already back then, and mentioned this in my mail to Chris, who wrote back:
"Interesting that you have a want to shoot list. Was talking about this today with a friend and he was asking if I have a particular style that I favour which is something I've been trying to pin down recently but have almost given up on. The conversation made me realise that I see or think of something, try to create what I had in mind and then tend to move on having proved to myself that I can produce that particular type of shot if I need to.
I know another photographer who shoots absolutely nothing but landscapes, he's very good at it but all his images are very similar and I can't understand how he doesn't get bored and want to experiment. I think I just enjoy playing around too much."
This is much along my own attitude towards photography. I know that many photographers and instructors promote strongly to find a style and a niche, and I can see the idea if you want to become a new Kander, Nachtwey, Hollenben or the like. But personally I like diversity, and rarely shoot in a particular style. I did go niche in a way by concentrating on and selling pictures of fly fishing, but a particular style that I can call mine? Not really...
I get way too inspired by other people's shots and take note of both techniques, styles and subjects - literally. I keep a list of stuff I want to shoot. Just to remember it.
My list will consist of a subject, a note and oftentimes a link or two to somewhere on the web where I can see examples if I have found any. Some ideas are my own, but many are inspired by things I have seen at shows, in magazines, in books and of course on the web. I split them into groups, like gear, subjects, techniques, locations etc. Like this:
The Copenhagen Metro
Going underground in an architecturally interesting environment. Apply for permission.
The Royal Copenhagen Library
A pearl with a lot of ambiance
Denis Darzacq's Hyper Style
People jumping, caught in mid-air. Gymnasts, parcourers, hip-hoppers?
Large setups, light, haze, moody, dim ambient light, mysterious. Many models, flash, large scenes. Constructed. Hopper-like.
Skaters, skatboarders, BMX'ers
Lots of jumps and flash. Local club? Ramp in Roskilde?
...streets from above
Simplistic landscapes, patterns in fields, symmetry, fences, hilltops etc.
This is far from my whole list, but just a small selection chosen to illustrate the idea. It's not profound or deep and well thought through, but just a short not for each subject to keep the idea fixed and to help me remember.
If you sometimes go into a kind of photographic cramp where you cannot get the creative juices running or have lost inspiration and ideas won't come, such a list is a great help. I keep mine on the computer, but you could just as easily have a jar with small paper notes on the shelf with your gear (and pick at random, maybe), or keep notes in a small notebook.