Filling the well, stocking the stream, feeding the beast, restocking the shelves, no matter what you call it, as an artist it is important to constantly consume other art to keep your creative juices flowing. The creative muse can be a fickle mistress and when she leaves you it is often because she has no raw materials to work with. If you are stuck creatively the best thing you can do is go consume other forms of art.

Visit a Museum

Whenever I travel I am always on the lookout for interesting photography exhibits, I have seen exhibits by some of the greats, Helmut Newton, Sally Mann, Dorthea Lange, Robert Frank, and many others, Sometimes it is just group shows by relatively unknown artists. If there are no photography exhibits in town I will seek out museums and galleries. It doesn’t matter the medium. I have found inspiration for my photos from scultputues, paintings, glass work, abstract art, you name it. Looking at work of other artists is always inspiring and it is rare that I visit a museum and not come away with at least a couple of ideas for future projects.

Be a Couch Potato

I don’t have to go somewhere to find this inspiration, I often get flashes of insight while watching TV. The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas has awesome ads that always get my creative juices flowing, as do the ads from the American Horror Story series. They have some great visuals in these ads and instead of skipping commercials I often find myself pausing them while I search for a piece of paper to write down some new concept for an image (I now keep a notepad next to the TV remote).

Surf the Web

Don’t watch TV? Then surf the web and look at images; 500px is a favorite of mine, it is full of inspiring images. I also will go explore the images of the master photographers from the past. I can’t look at Rodney Smith images without having at least 2 or 3 photo concepts pop into my head.

Take a Hike

Going for a walk is also a great way to fill my creative well. Whether I’m walking in nature, or down a city street, I am constantly seeing how the shadows interact with my surroundings, how a bright color attracts my eye. These go into my database of images which I can draw from in the future. Another important aspect of walking is that it causes my mind to wander, and it is when my mind is wandering that some of my best creative ideas appear.

Look at the Pictures

Coffee table photography and art books can be a wonderful source of creative fodder. Also photography magazines that are about showing the images, my favorite is Lenswork Magazine. I also like the Craft and Vision Photograph series. I always find each issue to be inspirational.

Let It Simmer

Creativity doesn’t happen from a vacuum. It is the result of all of these visual stimuli that you collect throughout your day, week, month, they rattle around inside your head mixing together. It’s like a giant puzzle that you are working on in your head….no wait…it’s like a making soup, you put all the ingredients in a bowl and let it simmer on the stove until it is done….wait…it’s like…like a blender of margaritas, swirling all these visual elements around…oh I know it’s…. Alright enough with the metaphors, the reality is that you need to collect visual stimuli, and at some point there will be a trigger that will pull these visual snippets together and idea for a photograph will appear in your head. When that happens, thank your muse, make the shot, and then start collecting again.