“As great a picture can be made as one’s mental capacity–no greater. Art cannot be taught; it must be self-inspiration, though the imagination may be fired and the ambition and work directed by the advice and example of others.” – Edward Weston
“It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” – Jean-Luc Godard
“Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask “how,” while others of a more curious nature will ask “why.” Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.” – Man Ray
“Photographers should actively look for ideas, attitudes, images, influences from the very best photographers of all ages. You cannot learn in a vacuum. The whole history of photography is a free and open treasure trove of inspiration. It would be masochistic to deny its riches and usefulness.” – David Hurn, On Being a Photographer : A Practical Guide by David Hurn, Bill Jay
I feel strongly that as a creative professional one must gather their inspirations as a means of professional and personal development. This is an ongoing task, which can be achieved through many different methods. I benefit most when attending a semi annual, or annual event, and my time is dedicated to a concentrated gathering of ideas. One of my favorite aspects of attending VCU’s Photography and Film program was that much of our time outside of shooting and lectures was dedicated to honing your vision through the gathering of inspirational materials. As Jim Jarmusch says: “Authenticity is invaluable, originality is non-existent.” You must have something to say with your work and that statement is only made stronger from educating yourself about what has come before you and what is currently happening within the industry. Photography festivals are a great resource for this, and I feel that it is key for any creative pro to attend events such as these, regularly. Not only is this a business expense that can be written off under the ‘professional development’ label, it’s also a lot of fun. Fun is why you got into this profession, right?
My favorite festival, LOOK3 is this weekend in Central Virginia. Much of my daily inspiration comes from books or surfing the internet, a solitary activity. Going to a festival is quite the opposite and since many of us work alone much of the time it is great fun to gather with a large group of like minded professionals. I am excited to have the chance to listen to leaders within our industry, and meet many other creative professionals throughout the course of the weekend.
Below is an list of upcoming photography festivals in the US and Europe, so that you can continue to cultivate your own well of inspiration.
LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph June 9-11 2011
PhotoIreland July 1-11 2011
Visa Pour l’image Perpignan August 29 – September 4th is Professional’s Week
GeekFest September 16-18 2011
Telluride Photo Festival September 26 – October 2, 2011
FotoDC November 5-12 2011
ParisPhoto November 10-13 2011