It was one thing to always have that part of me that was into photography, but it was another to really find my identity as a photographer. There were quite a few sources of inspiration that I had come across along this journey, some of which really resonated with me coming more recently in time as I grew more into this craft.
Being a long-time subscriber, National Geographic played an influential role along this photographic journey of mine. Long renowned for its photographic prowess, it was clear to see why me; and I am sure many others, garnered inspiration from this publication. The images from some of my collection below illustrate some examples of the quality.
National Geographic photographers have captured some of the most iconic photographs of all time. Perhaps it is likely you have heard of the "Afghan Girl" photo captured by Steve McCurry, one of the most famous photographs from this publication.
The original photograph of the “Afghan Girl” – Sharbat Gula – was taken in 1984 during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; and was eventually featured on the front cover of the June 1985 edition of National Geographic Magazine. This portrait shot of Sharbat Gula was when she was an adolescent girl. Her piercing green eyes as she looked at the camera with a real intensity is what really gave this photograph its character.
This article, describes the journey of Steve McCurry and a Nat Geo crew as they search for Sharbat in the hopes of a reunion. The article also goes on to detail the conditions, feelings, and emotions during that period and I recommend giving it a read; so as not to spoil the content too much. It really put things into perspective for me but also showed me the power of photography to raise issues like this.
National Geographic has published many powerful and inspirational photographs over the years and continues to do so. They continue to raise awareness of many issues and convey their messages with the help of the photos which is why I find this publication so inspiring. The published articles take me on such a journey and inform me on a wide range of topics. The photos compliment the articles and help me visualise what the author is trying to convey.
Along this journey, I have discovered other outlets and fellow photographers through several ways. Primarily with the proliferation of Instagram, it became much more streamlined to discover the work of my peers.
One of those photographers goes by the name of Joe Allam (pictured below with permission). I found his work of particular interest, more so because I could relate to the style and inspirations of his own photography. From what I saw through his Instagram, and eventually his YouTube channel, was that he was a keen traveller and appeared to be on a similar journey to me. A journey to discover new places to go and cultures to explore, all the while capturing the beauty of the moments that go hand in hand with such an experience. Furthermore, he had a love of Japan which is something I had also developed after travelling there myself.
I became so enamoured by his work, I found myself trying to emulate his style of composing shots. It was a very inspiring experience. Eventually, I wanted to take this source of inspiration to the next level. I dabbled with one of his Adobe Lightroom presets packages - the Urban Stone Vol. 1 collection - in the hopes of understanding how he achieved the "looks" in his photographs. It was quite the learning experience and why, even to this day, I am still inspired and learning from his works.
On top of his Instagram and personal YouTube channel, I follow his travel blog he runs with his partner, Elly – creatively named “Jelly Journeys” – a play on the combination of their names. Again, it is a great inspiration to see the both of them travelling and discovering other cultures, all the while documenting these adventures through photographs and videos. The style and look of the videos and the blog posts are all consistent with what Joe posts on his personal channels, which makes this all the more seamless to follow their stories.
Another such photographer that has inspired me goes by the handle: bigheadtaco - AKA Take Kayo. I discovered Take through YouTube one day as I was looking for reviews on the Fujifilm X-T2 during the research process, which I eventually went on to purchase. His impressions and comparisons videos were instrumental in my decision making. From that moment, I subscribed to his YouTube channel; I followed him on Instagram and even learned that he was a contributor on the Fujilove website - so I followed his articles there too.
I became a fan. In particular, I enjoyed watching his travel videos as it was something I aspire to do. His videos in Hong Kong gave me insight on a country and culture that I would like to experience myself. His overview of Champagne Court and his fairly frequent meetings with Mr David Chan in his Mecca of a camera shop was a great watch. Seeing all the vintage cameras in Mr Chan's shop and the stories he would tell about some of his products was such of great interest.
In terms of camera gear, his videos were an invaluable source of information for me. His lens reviews and camera comparisons were in depth, practical and educational. Some of which helped me make informed purchasing decisions. This was important to me in that camera gear does not necessarily come cheap!
It was not just his videos and what I had learned from them that he was a source of inspiration. It was also his other interests on top of his photography. Like Joe that I mentioned earlier, Take looked to be a keen traveller (particularly in Hong Kong and Japan - both of which interest me) and I found his style of photography very interesting. His composition and the style of his "look" just appealed to me; I was just a fan of his work.
An interesting point to mention, is that both Joe Allam and Take Kayo use the Fujifilm systems themselves. This was key for me as not only was I a big fan of their works, but I could also relate to them on the camera gear level. It gave me great insight in terms of learning things about my gear I did not know about.
Finally, one of the big inspirations for me was another photographer I discovered on YouTube - Peter McKinnon. He has such a personality and style and it transfers to his photography and videography as well. I have followed his videos on YouTube closely since subscribing. It is great getting an insight into his thoughts and life watching his VLOGs, but also gaining knowledge from some tutorial videos he posts.
Peter’s tutorials covered techniques in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop at varying levels of complexity. It was easy to follow and develop my skills in these applications. Like Joe Allam, I became very interested in the vibes that Peter’s photos had. This led me to try out his 2017 Lightroom preset pack. Once again, I found myself digging through the settings and adjustments he had made; trying to understand why he did what. It improved my understanding of the software and led me on a quest to try developing a look and style of my own photography.
There are more outlets and more of my peers I am discovering out there, but it would take me so much more than a blog post to cover them all. Those that I have covered here are among the first I discovered and the ones I follow most closely. As such, why I have gone into more detail about them in this blog post.
If you found this post interesting, please check their respective websites and social media channels to discover more for yourself and draw your own evaluations. Alternatively, if you have any particular stories or people who have inspired you greatly on your journey; please drop them in the comments. I would be curious to see and hear about your journeys.
Any works used in this blog post have been granted permission from the relevant parties or referenced below. You can find these publications, photographers and content creators at their respective platforms as follows:
National Geographic - The Afghan Girl: A Life Revealed - | LINK |
[Original article published April 2002; accessed 10/05/2020]
Links are valid as of 10/05/2020. Please let me know if the links no longer work and you cannot access them.