Here's to inspiration

A few days ago I was sitting at lunch with a couple other photographers in Houston talking shop. A question I often like to ask other creatives is "What motivates/inspires/drives your work as a creative artist?" Now I was talking to wedding photographers who usually aren't thought of as much of 'artists', but they are. Photographers are artists. What struck me as odd when I asked these two people specifically was the way they responded. They didn't. One of the gentlemen in front of me didn't know how to answer the question (he looked like he was taking a test he had never studied for) and the other photographers motivation was money ("paying off my mortgage"). I was shocked. I wanted to reach across the table and slap them. These photographers are great people, and have decent wedding work. I respect them both. But......

I simply cannot understand someone working in a creative field without something behind the art. The gentleman who didn't/couldn't answer it was as though he had never even thought about it. This is a question that there are a great number of answers to: fast cars, other photographers work, movies, my beautiful wife, music, a eureka moment I experienced at sunrise while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro back when I was in college. Just about anything works, as long as there is an answer. These two people seemingly had no (legitimate) inspiration or driving force behind their work (as far as I could tell). Money? That is nice, but should that be what motivates/inspires art? I was/am under the impression that art was something that was (or should be) done out of passion. It seems like without passion or some driving force the creative aspect will not be there. 

I have asked many people this question. One wedding photographer I have asked answered: "movies". So I inquired as to what movies he liked or found inspiring and he told me to go on IMDB and look at the academy award winners and nominees for cinematography. Why or how does this affect his photos? He told me that he wants to make his photos look like a scene from a movie (not a cheesy stereotypical thing, but in a serious way). Ways you can see this present in his style include the way he frames his subject and even the fact that most of his photos are 'landscape' (rather than being taken vertically). There is an influence, and it is certainly visible. 

Disappointed from a lack of answer to my first question I asked another: "Describe the visual 'look' of your photos" *silence*. "REALLY?!?!?!" I thought to myselfThese are photographers in the mid-upper wedding market in Houston. Do people really not think through this? Surely I cannot just be this forward thinking. I am hardly any kind of visionary person. Lately I have been contemplating a TON of things related to photography and one of them is my visual look, both what it is and what I want it to be. I am getting ready to brand myself and actually start a photography business based in Houston and there is much thought that has been going into the process (much more on this coming soon) but my 'look' is a big part. 

While I have been specifically speaking about photography since that is my medium of choice, this applies to other art. Painting, cooking, composing music, underwater basket weaving. Whatever your art is, it should be motivated by passion. 

So its interesting to poke at what (doesn't) inspire them, but what about me? Music. There are few things that can rapture my attention like music. People often ask me what kind of music I like and sadly I answer a super cliche 'just about anything' but it is true. Right now in my purchased playlist in iTunes I have the biebs, Usher, Beethoven, Far Ease Movement, Bach, Cadillac Sky, Young the Giant, and a ton of other people you have never heard of. Out of all the music I listen to, I find classical music the most creative. The complexity and precision with which this music was created and is executed baffles me. To contemplate classical music and think of the vision that it took to get that from an idea in a composers head to the Symphony I am listening to is astounding. 

Others inspiration, my inspiration, none of it matters in the end. What inspires you? What do you hear or see or experience that moves or motivates you? Pursue it. 

Side note, this post was written while listening to selections from Beethoven's 3rd and 9th Symphonies and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.