3 inspiring photography bloggers who helped me grow

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At the beginning of my journey into photography I was rather lost. I couldn’t use my Canon DSLR properly, didn’t know anything about lenses and had forgotten everything about post-processing that I ever knew. To get over this obstacle I decided to start taking pictures every day for a year (also called a 365 project) and post these pictures online. It was quite a ride and I learned a lot during that time. Although I’m not entirely convinced of 365 projects and only very few pictures from these early days actually live up to my standards it was an important period for me. The experience wasn’t only about the camera and the project either. In that time I also started to have a look around and really engage with photography on a daily basis. This meant for me to go to photography exhibitions, peruse photography books and look at other people’s blogs. Especially looking at those blogs really helped me to stay focussed, learn something, overcome difficulties and get inspired. This blog post is dedicated to all those awesome bloggers who inspired me from the very beginning. There are many many bloggers I could list who gave me a nudge in the right direction, motivated me with their comments or inspired me with their photography, but I think it is better if I keep this list short and punchy or else I never get this post finished! So, here it goes:

Dave Powell from ShootTokyo

I can’t quite remember when or how I stumbled onto Shoot Tokyo, but it was right at the beginning and I was in awe immediately. Back then every day I was looking forward to a glimpse of Tokyo. Dave’s street photography inspired me to overcome my fear of shooting people. Before I knew Shoot Tokyo, my pictures looked as if Berlin was empty, they showed little urban details, backyard explorations and the occasional macro shot thrown in as well. Dave’s pictures inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and confront my fears. I was utterly scared of getting into trouble, so it took me quite a while to really start with street photography. However, thanks to Dave I always aspired to “get closer”. I started with telephoto lenses, so yes, I think shooting people can be very scary at first. By now my favourite lenses are in the 35mm equivalent range though and I’m flirting with a wide-angle lens as my next purchase. You have to get really close with those! And yes, people can be extremely scary not only in theory! Especially groups of aggressive youths with their pit bull, after they were just talking loudly about guns and have just noticed your camera …! Once you manage to take pictures of those kinds of people without getting bitten, you know that it’s really no big deal under normal circumstances (i.e. when you don’t provoke major incidents). Would I have ever aspired to become a street photographer without Dave’s work? I seriously doubt it, since taking pictures of people was really very hard for me at first.

© Lilly Schwartz 2013

Berlin | Olympus Pen E-PL3 | © Lilly Schwartz 2013

Getting me into street photography wasn’t the only thing Dave’s blog did though. Through his work I developed a love for the look of Leica lenses. Basically I’ve been drooling over Leica cameras ever since I found Shoot Tokyo. I don’t have my own Leica yet, but a concrete plan to get one already exists. Since I could never afford the M9 on top of the expensive Leica lenses it will have to be the analog Leica M6 (with a Leica Summicron 35mm f/2.0 lens). My first step last year was to get a Zorki 3C with a Jupiter 8 50mm f/2.0 lens to get started with analog photography. The Zorki is a soviet Leica copy and as close as you can get to a real old-fashioned Leica without breaking the bank. Of course these soviet copies don’t have the amazing quality of Leica lenses, but at least the Zorki is a rangefinder camera that looks like an old Leica! A step into the right direction. Earlier this year I also got a Zorki 4K with the Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8 lens and learned how to develop my own film. Once I have the feeling that I’ve mastered my Zorki 4K I will definitely get my Leica. At the moment I’m guessing exposure settings without a light meter. To have mastered my Zorki 4K means to reach a point where I feel comfortable developing such guesswork film even with less forgiving developers (my usual Rodinal stand development allows for all sorts of mistakes and mischief). Not sure how long it will take me to get there, but I bet it won’t take more than 30-50 rolls of film and I ideally shoot about two rolls of film a week.

So, in the end it’s not only Dave’s fault that I’ll be blowing all my savings on a Leica, but he already made me buy several cameras and got me into that expensive old-fashioned analog photography! It’s only fitting, since I love what he’s been doing with his M6 lately – with all that film pushing I think he’d love the results of treating his bw films to some 2h stand-development in Rodinal 1:100. On that note, analog photography might be more expensive than digital photography, but at least it has a quirky mad scientist charm with all those chemicals in the bathroom and playing with scissors in the dark! Anyways, although Dave’s definitely making me poor, I can’t thank him enough for being such an awesome inspiration!

Otto von Münchow from In Flow

A few days after I started my 365 project Otto von Münchow gave me some very helpful advice on how to process a certain picture. The picture turned out to be one of my favourite shots and I have been following Otto’s blog ever since. His blog is a real eye-opener! He often writes very helpful conceptual posts about photography, which make you think about the process of creating good photographs. Often I found myself in the middle of the street suddenly thinking of something he had written about a few days ago. Reading about the process and the conceptual background can really help to get to a whole other level. The work Otto presents from his photography workshops in exotic places are just as striking and inspiring as his conceptual posts. You might think that his style and genre is quite different from what I do, but in the end that doesn’t matter. What makes and breaks a good picture is pretty universal and his work is a real inspiration for me. Thank you, Otto!

© Lilly Schwartz 2011

Berlin | Canon EOS 450D | © Lilly Schwartz 2011

SpilledInkGuy from Refrigerator Magnete

All the positive feedback and comments I got from my blog were the main reason why I managed to follow my 365 project through to the end. At times I was less than enthusiastic about the project and way too busy with other things, but it was still the best thing I ever did for my photography. Without that 365 project I wouldn’t be where I am today and I doubt I even would be taking pictures at all. And right at the top of the comment statistics of my 365 blog is one name: SpilledInkGuy with his blog Refrigerator Magnate.

SpilledInkGuy’s relentless encouragement and his awesomely amusing work never failed to inspire me. His blog combines a mix of photography, designs, drawings, paintings, etc with often amazingly funny/ironic quotes from movies. Well, come to think about it, that description doesn’t say much at all, but it’s really hard to sum up the wide range of SIG’s creative work in a few sentences. Just have a look at this great painting for example and I’m sure you will start to understand why I like his work so much. You can really see how much fun he has playing with his creations. That’s also precisely what I’ve learned from him: To just have fun and go where inspiration takes me! Thanks man, I couldn’t have made it without you!

Which blogs inspire you? I’m always looking for interesting blogs, so let me know in the comments section below.

Comments

  • Oh, wow, Ms. F! Thank you so very much for your kind words! You make it sound as if I did something, when in fact it was simply my pleasure to stop by every now and then to see what you’d been working on! You have such a great eye – amazing natural talent for capturing ‘the moment’ and creating powerful atmosphere… always an inspiration!
    🙂

    • Lilly Schwartz

      Wow, thanks man 🙂 But hey, you really kept me going! Even when I was just about inspired enough to take a picture of a coffee cup, you still kept encouraging me, so yes, you did a lot!

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