How blog stalking kills your creativity

Written on July 22, 2011 by in Artistry & inspiration, For photographers only

Do you haunt the websites of other photographers, seeking new ideas, fresh perspectives or even visual inspiration? When was the last time you did so? Today? Last week? 

Yeah, I’ve done it, too. But there are major downsides. The biggest, which Jessica Swift mentioned in our recent interview, is:

“I can’t look at other people’s work…because that will influence the way that I work and also just make me doubt my own work…and that stifles everything. There’s so much amazing work online everywhere that you can click on one link and it leads to another amazing link, and then all of a sudden, I think I suck.”

Yikes! Talk about demotivating. You think you’re going online for inspiration and instead come away feeling bad about yourself. And then there’s another risk: How the work of other photographers’ will influence yours. 

Sure you want to be in the know and incorporate the latest trends — it’s just keeping up with the industry, right? Wrong. You can’t be Jasmine Star or Jesh de Rox, so turning to them doesn’t serve you. How well do their ideas match your true vision and style anyway? If you specialize in creating whimsical work, for example, utilizing a pose or session idea from an edgier artist could muddy your own unique style and brand.

Even worse, trying out ideas from a variety of artists creates a confusing visual identity. You won’t have a differentiated style, and your work will be indiscernible among the myriad photographers out there. 

It’s natural to seek inspiration. Everyone needs to feed their creative juices. But, please, look outside the field. Look at fashion, look at contemporary art, look at the fathers of photography, really anything other than your competition or industry insiders.

Think work outside your field isn’t relevant? Well, take a look at the three images below. All are paintings from the 19th century and yet, with a little costume modification, they could have been produced yesterday:

After the Pose by Sven Richard Bergh, 1884. Reminiscent of a wedding getting-ready shot, isn't it?

Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassat, 1897. Moms, ever had a morning like this?

Summer Evening on Skagen's Beach by Peder Severin Kroyer, 1899. Engagement session, anyone?

When you’re looking for inspiration within your industry, it may seem like you’re staying in the know and on top of trends, but you’re really helping to create a lookalike industry, one in which photographers are commodities and clients choose among us based on price. So, next time you need a creative jolt or dose of inspiration, why not try one of the following instead:

  • Go for a run, walk or bike ride. Enjoy your surroundings. Get lost.
  • Play with your spouse, kids or pets. Pick something new to try together.
  • Hang out at a cafe and watch people. Who are they? Where are they going?
  • Go on a picnic. Invite your favorite people or just take yourself and a blank notebook.
  • Visit your happy place and soak up the atmosphere. Relax and just be.
  • Listen to your favorite album. Bonus points for dancing along.
  • Bake or cook something. Try a new recipe or genre.
  • Explore a new art form. Visit the pottery painting studio or sign up for a jewelry making class.
  • Visit an art gallery or museum.
  • Meditate or practice yoga.
  • Write out some ideas for your perfect day, and then go do one of them.
  • Host an artists pot luck/working party: Invite your favorite creative folks over to work on their individual projects, all together in one room.

Anything else you’d like to add? Feel free to do so in the comments below.

Wishing you a day filled with your brand of inspiration,

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  1. Cassandra Kinaviaq Rae
    July 22, 2011

    Wow. What a fabulous message, Kate, and a great reminder for me. It’s so easy to search outside of me for the answers that are patiently waiting within.
    Cassandra Kinaviaq Rae recently posted..Are you asking, “What should I do?”

  2. Kate Watson
    July 25, 2011

    Hi Cassandra: Yes, I think we all need this message sometimes, whether we’re photographers, artists, coaches or any other small business owner. There are a lot of amazing things being done in the world, and it can be easy to lose focus amidst all the noise.

  3. Ariane
    July 29, 2011

    You hit the mark Kate! I smiled to myself while reading this. It is so easy to get caught up blog stalking others work while your own creativity suffers. Sometimes we are unaware how much we are hurting ourselves by doing this. Thanks for pointing this out. In a world where photographers are inspired by each others work it’s easy to begin mimic what you’ve already seen.

    Great tips on looking outside of the field for inspiration. Your image selection was amazing!

    One thing I find helps fuel my creativity is through my daily journaling. That way when ideas come to me I can write them down as something to try.

    Great post; thanks for sharing!

    • Kate Watson
      July 31, 2011

      Thanks for the comment, Ariane! Yes, journaling is a great tool and one I use, also.

  4. […] love. They are not in my field so I can stalk their blogs all I want! Yay me! (We were warned about blog stalking messing with our own native creativity and to be […]

  5. Sandra Coshan
    January 29, 2012

    Thank you so much for writing this! I have just started up my website and am still formulating ideas for posts. I came across this blog which was full of well written information and then I started to doubt myself. I believe that I was led here so that I could stop thinking that way immediately! There are no coincidences! Thanks again! xx
    Sandra Coshan recently posted..Ask and you shall receive…

    • Kate Watson
      February 3, 2012

      Hi Sandra: Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words. Best wishes on your new venture!

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