As artists, we are constantly “borrowing” ideas and inspiration from one another. It’s a reminder that Austin Kleon so eloquently discussed during his Steal Like an Artist TEDx talk. Stealing like an artist does not actually involve stealing someone else’s images or copying them to a T. It’s meant to remind all of us that the work we create is a blend of all of our inspirations fused with our own personality and life experiences.
Unfortunately, as photographers and artists, we often forget to recognize these inspirations. We want to change that. So here are 10 incredible and successful photographer friends of mine who are each sharing one or more peers who have been a significant source of inspiration along their journey.
“Back when I started shooting Indian weddings 12 years ago, there was little inspiration for the way I wanted to shoot them. With emotion, drama, as an observer instead of a meddler. As an artist going beyond people’s existing expectations of photography. I think it’s amazing that NOW there are so so many people to look to that celebrate the traditions through their imagery so well, but I am currently OBSESSED with Naman. When I look at his work, I don’t just see something, I feel something. And I love the risks he takes with dual exposures and his curation. It’s so impactful.”
“As a natural light photographer, I was pretty nervous using studio lights and didn’t always understand the how and the why behind light. Even after getting used to shooting in the studio I had tons of knowledge gaps, some of which I wasn’t even aware of. Seth, a fellow AdoramaTV host and prominent studio photographer known for getting it right in camera, helped me fill in those gaps and taught me this crazy trick that I used to shoot this image in a live Canon stage demo. Since then I’ve looked to his work and demos at Adorama and on his YouTube for continual practical light education that gets to the root of why and how certain techniques work. My photography knowledge has exploded thanks to him! This photo is a perfect culmination of 4 things he taught me: 1. Filling shadows with color. 2. Ghosting 3. Bokeh by “flashing myself” and 4. Get it right in camera. This is completely SOOC!”
“My photography journey is a little different than most for the simple fact that I didn’t buy my first camera until I was 32 and initially wanted to shoot landscapes and nightscapes. When I was asked to photograph my first wedding it was only because of the fact that my Mom was a wedding photographer. Since she had passed away, I was asked if I could do it. I don’t know if it was because of my age or lack of interest in photographing people that I wanted to basically see if I could make it fun and interesting. It was a small backyard wedding so not a lot of pressure.
Since I had an art background I went online and started looking for some of the more creative wedding photographers who made it look fun. I remember finding Nordica, Jakob & Cole from Iceland, first. I immediately fell in love with the artistry in their work. Conversations I had with Cole from Nordica years ago were what initially sparked my interest in Leica since he used to shoot with a Leica M240. The next photographer was Fer Juaristi. I looked over their work and tried to basically find what it was that drew me into it.
These are photographers whom I still have a lot of respect for and still stop in from time to time to check out their work. Ultimately, it was the idea that I could immediately see that they found a way to do things different and unique. It’s what pushed me to basically strive to find my own look and style that was recognizable. In the five years since that first wedding, I’m pretty happy with the look and style that I’ve built in that amount of time.”
“I have to give a nod to two/three incredible photographers that have molded the way that I shoot and see the world behind the lens. When I first began my photography career, my husband gifted me with the 30 Days of Wedding Photography educational course that Susan Stripling had on Creative Live. Knowing absolutely nothing about wedding photography (or really anything about photography in general, quite frankly), I fell in love with her use of natural light, the way she juxtaposed people and carved out stunning portraits with natural light, and I wished to someday be able to do that. Her 30-day course set me on my own course to be a wedding photographer.
Once in the industry, I devoured courses and studied numerous photographers’ work, but one team that stunned me was Lanny & Erika Mann of Two Mann Studios. Their incredible use of off-camera flash, their vibrant photos, and the feeling that you were RIGHT THERE at their weddings, in the action, feeling what their couples were feeling, inspired me to not just shoot, but to be part of the action. When I had the chance to attend their Metanoia Workshop, I was beyond excited…but since then I’ve had the immense honor of being able to become friends with them, and that has been far more of a blessing than anything they could ever teach. They’re incredible human beings, and their work is just an extension of the beautiful people they are.
Between those two inspirations, I find myself seeking ways to fuse the two styles and be my own person within those stunning talents. The industry is filled with incredible artists, and I’m continually inspired by so many people. Susan provided the inspiration to chase after a dream I didn’t know I had, and Lanny and Erika have pushed me to know, believe, and become capable of creating the images I see in my mind’s eye. If I can be half as good as any of the people who have inspired me, I’ll count it as a win!”
“I’ve been a fan of Platon for decades. I admire the simplicity in his portraits, which really make everyone he photographs look iconic – especially his portraits in black and white. His work is perhaps the most recognizable of our time (yes, debatable, but who can forget his indelible portraits of Obama, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, Putin, and so many others?). If I have time during a wedding, I’ll make sure to capture a portrait with the bride and groom (or either) with a white background to really make them look and feel iconic.”
“When Abby and I started wedding photography, we were pretty lucky because we lived in one of those rare hotbeds of amazing photographers. There are places like Southern California, New York, the Gold Coast of Australia, and Alberta. This lightly populated area in Western Canada is home to some truly world-class photographers, and while I could go through and list how all of them were an influence on us, one stands above the rest.
Gabe was going by a different business name back then, but his work was still quintessentially his own, full of emotion, connection, and stunning landscapes. This was pre-Iceland, and he felt like one of the best-kept secrets in the world. He was kind to us when we could barely speak at local pub-nights, and always willing to answer our questions. As a wedding gift to us, our friends booked him for a portrait session in the rain-forests of British Columbia (one of our favorite places) and we learned more on that afternoon than we had from so many previous workshops and conferences.
We have him to thank for the work we put into making our couples look connected, in love, and real, and it’s thanks we can never repay.”
“Zack single-handedly and unknowingly built my foundation of understanding light. From placemat to power to modifiers. Without his articles and videos, I’d have spent a lot more time trying to learn. I also still use many other things that I learned from him. His composition rule of “head in a clean spot” is still something I tell myself during every single shoot. There is also an Isaac Newton quote that I first heard through Zack: “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” It reminds me that everyone is where they are now because of a path someone else already blazed. This motivates me to keep pushing myself creatively so that maybe one day I can help motivate and help someone else.”
Inspired by Jerry Ghionis (Website | Instagram)
“I’ve always loved and appreciated Jerry’s work. From the time I came into the industry, even to today, I find his work to be quite timeless. However, what truly grabbed me 10 years ago was his so-called “soft skills.” His ability to speak and connect with every subject he photographed was incredible. It was that natural and innate ability that I so desired to emulate. Now, I couldn’t do it with Jerry’s silky smooth Australian accent, but I did develop my own style rooted in my own brand of awkward humor that I would use to relate to my clients. Today, it’s what enables me to pose, direct, and then elicit the perfect emotion out of any moment.”
“In the early days, I was excited about photographing my first wedding but really had no idea what I was going to do when it came to creatively documenting my client’s wedding day. I scoured the internet looking for inspiration when I discovered a husband and wife team, Erin and Ben Chrisman. Their photography completely drew me in…the bold colors, the use of light, the emotion and the creative compositions that left me in awe of their artwork. And their ability to layer multiple stories into one photo blew my mind! I had never seen anything like their photography and I was hooked. They have truly inspired me to become the photographer I am today.”
“Over the years, I have been inspired and mentored by many amazing photographers who are not only immensely talented but who are also immensely good and wonderful people. As with many others I know, I feel like I am simply a collection of influences from the photography community as a whole, which is full of amazing individuals.
One such individual that I look up to is Christian Cardona. Every time I see Christian’s work, it inspires me to see things differently. From his unique compositions to his incredible ability to control light and add color, Christian turns even the most mundane locations into masterpieces. Check out his work. You won’t be sorry!”