How to Get Inspired when you Have a Creative Block

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Every photographer needs inspiration; sometimes we all have a creative block which gets in the way of new ideas and concepts. In my experience, the best way to unlock your creativity is to look at artists and photographers who inspire you and allow them to influence your work. Looking through the work of my favourite photographers has always helped me to come up with my own unique ideas for upcoming projects.

Here are the top 5 photographers that I look to for inspiration and why they help me to unlock my imagination.

Ellen Von Unwerth

‘Peaches’ by Ellen Von Unwerth

Ellen Von Unwerth is a German photographer who creates images that bring a sense of fun and playfulness to fashion. Von Unwerth mainly uses female models as her main muse, depicting them in ways that are erotic, yet powerful. Every one of her images exudes boldness and confidence, giving her models an authoritative presence. Although her photographs may be left to interpretation, I view her work as a commentary on the sexualisation of women in the media; but, instead of sexualising women using the typical male gaze, she allows her subjects to reclaim their sexuality from a female perspective.

Von Unwerth also makes reference to the different decades throughout her work, taking inspiration from 50s, 60s and 70s fashion trends; these allusions to the different historical fashions seem to make the eroticism of her work even more impactful; for example, some of her images portray women dressed in 1950s clothing, making a statement about the stereotypes and expectations of a woman during this time.

There is something especially empowering about Von Unwerth’s work and it always helps me to get my creative juices flowing again.

Elaine Constantine

Dior for beauty Papers by Elaine Constantine

Constantine is a photographer and film director who is known for her colourful, bright and vivid images. Like Von Unwerth, Constantine brings the fun to every photoshoot, making sure that her models look like there having the time of their lives; she certainly encapsulates the ‘girls just want have fun’ vibe throughout her work. Although she photographs for major fashion brands like Gucci and Dior, she still manages to put her own stamp on it, ensuring that every image brings a sense of child-like wonderment and carefree joy.

Constantine is the photographer I look to when I want to incorporate some lightheartedness into my work and she never fails to spark my imagination.

Annie Leibovitz

Angelina Jolie by Annie Leibowitz for Louis Vuitton

We all know that Annie Leibovitz is an absolute icon. Leibovitz is an American portrait photographer who creates image that invoke awe. Her work is rooted in fantasy and thinking outside-the-box, resulting in photographs that blur the lines between dreams and reality. Leibovitz always tries to reflect her subject’s individuality through use of props, setting and styling, producing breathtaking imagery that tells a story.

One of Leibovitz’s main influencers was Henri-Cartier Bresson; however, I feel that Bresson concentrates more on portraying the harsh underbelly of the real world, whereas the work of Leibovitz seems more fanciful; her photographs seem to make us wistful for a reality that doesn’t quite exist, but in a way that leaves us feeling hopeful.

Leibovitz is the artist I channel when I really want to push myself and get inventive with my photography projects.

David Bailey

Mick Jagger by David Bailey

David Bailey is a portrait photographer based in England; he is most well known for his celebrity portraits that have depicted Andy Warhol, Kate Moss, Jude Law and more. There is something beautifully simplistic about Bailey’s portraits; he removes all colour and distractions from the image so that it solely focuses on his subject. Bailey’s stripped back approach to portrait photography allows the viewer to get to know the subject, opening up a dialogue that reflects the true character of the model.

Bailey is someone I will always admire, not only for his photographic skill, but for the way that he has transformed the world of portrait photography. When I am trying to capture the emotional depth of a subject, I turn to Bailey’s images to give me some guidance.

Mario Testino

Shot for Vogue by Mario Testino

Testino is a Peruvian fashion photographer who has had his work featured in Vogue, Vanity Fair and V magazine. Testino is particularly interested in expression and realism, catching his subjects in moments of reflection. There is certainly a sharp quality to his work which seems to show models who are a little rough around the edges, stepping away from the ‘fluffier’ photography editorials that eradicate flaws and imperfections. In some ways, Testino’s images could be considered somewhat confrontational in the way that he captures the emotion of his subjects.

Finding models who can show raw emotion can be a real challenge; there is a difference between beauty photography and high fashion photography. With beauty photography, models can simply relax their face and pout prettily, but with high fashion, you need something with a little more punch. Mario Testino definitely knows how to pack a punch with his photography.

At the end of the day, we all look for inspiration in different places, but for me, it’s these five photographers who always help me through a creative block.