Sources Sources Everywhere

I'm assuming part of being a creative is constantly feeding your reference bank so you'll have something to pull from when you're making stuff yourself. Without some kind of reference, inspiration, or source, I'm more than likely just going to keep doing whatever it is I'm already doing. I'm probably also not likely to grow or improve.

Years ago I had a notebook where I'd take an image from a newspaper or magazine, paste/tape it to a page, and then write a short story or even just a couple paragraphs about who/what was in the image and/or how it made me feel. There was ABSOLUTELY nothing profound about it or anything I wrote, but it was a fantastic practice for the kind of work and projects I'm passionate about today. Obviously the internet has changed just about everything so now I collect references in both digital formats and physical notebooks and draw from those sources and ideas for new projects.


Pinterest and Instagram seem to be my major sources for interesting and inspiring imagery online. I subscribe to the print edition of The New Yorker and try to read a good deal of the articles each week, but I primarily keep my subscription for the photos. I'm also constantly pulling screenshots from videos as well as anything else I see on the internet, in print, and in person that looks interesting and set it aside to hopefully use down the road.

It's always great to see new work from people you admire and be able to link their imagery to other stuff you've seen. It's also hella boring to keep seeing visual trends after they've run their course – I'm looking at you 2009-11 and all your DSLR bokeh tests. I'm praying the "I only shoot film cameras" and "let's only shoot with super colorful Quasar Tubes and Sky Panels" trends wrap up soon. I'll fight you though if you start talking crap about my lens flares... They're freakin' beautiful.

I'm constantly curating my Instagram account and following the rabbit holes I come across. I'm pretty sure they led me to my regular rotation of sites like LensCulture, BOOOOOOOM!, Empty Kingdom, Colossal, It's Nice That and who knows how many others.

More and more though I'm intentionaly looking for inspiration that's outside my normal online sources. Older photography and art books at the public library are a freakin' gold mine. It's incredibly refreshing stumbling across interesting work that's not suggested by some algorithm. I'll just take a picture with my phone and file it away with the others.