I push the pen until it pulls me, and I never know when that is going to happen. — Mark Nepo
Every six months or so, I share the things that are lighting me up, inspiring my creative process, and pulling me forward on my path as an artist. There is so much that goes into nurturing a creative practice beyond just picking up the camera, shooting, and editing. I love surrounding myself with many modalities of inspiration. Here are five that are guiding me currently.
Magnum Photos is now offering extraordinary online classes. The first was The Art of Street Photography, which I gobbled up some months ago. Their second offering, is a deep dive into Alec Soth’s entire creative process, from the first seed of inspiration to his most notable books and exhibitions. He walks us through all of his major projects, and the shifts — both personal and professional — he has undergone throughout his storied career. I loved this class, and I recommend it to anyone who craves a deeper understanding of the psyche of an artist.
This book is similar in many ways to Alec Soth’s class, but in book form and with forty photographers — established and emerging — sharing their personal insights. The format is simple: each artist answers the same ten questions, such as, What comes first for you: The idea of a project or individual photographs that suggest a concept? And, How do you know when a body of work is finished? I am reading this book slowly and with such delight. The creative life can be very solitary, and I am often asking myself if I am doing it right. The beauty of this book is that it makes crystal clear that there are many glorious paths.
I have been reading a chapter or two of this book each night before bed. I love that the last thoughts I have before I dream are about letting go of control and surrendering to the extraordinary journey of life. Michael Singer shares the story of what happened to him when he decided to no longer let his personal fears and desires dictate his life, but rather open himself fully to whatever came his way. This message resonates with me on every level, especially with my photography career. My logical brain has a very narrow set of ideas for how my career should unfold, but the universe has other surprises in store for me if only I surrender and allow it. This is true for you too.
This one dovetails nicely with The Surrender Experiment. I haven’t thought about this song for years and years, but it came on the radio the other day, and I was floored. It’s just so good. It’s been on repeat for days and days. My recommendation for you: play it loud and often.
Not photography related, but so very good after a long day of editing and writing. The hype is real. This show is worth the binge. Enjoy!