Older Images – A Source of Inspiration

Finding Inspiration in Revisiting and Re-editing Older Images

We’ve all heard of writer’s block, right? But is there such a thing as photographer’s block? Or artist’s block?

Well, if that ever happens, try looking through older images. Not only you might rediscover your muse, but you might get a chance to revisit your artist voice, your work, and find out how and how much it has changed over the years. Do take a moment to ponder on the evolution of your work–subject matter, light, style, look, all that…also, your post-production workflow. Consider how and why it has changed over the years.

I’ve ended up glancing at older images the other day, while trying to come up with new ideas for this blog. Looking through those images with new eyes, I’ve discovered that several of them needed some (more)…”tweaking” (to borrow from You’ve Got Mail) . glancing at older images the other day, while trying to come up with new ideas for this blog. Looking through those images with new eyes, I’ve discovered that several of them needed some (more)…”tweaking” (to borrow from You’ve Got Mail) .

“Through My Eyes” Photo by Alina Oswald.

Knowing what you want to say through your work–the story you want to tell, the point you want to make, the message you want to send out–and knowing, being sure and unapologetic of your artist voice, will determine not only what and how you photograph, but also your post-production workflow, a workflow that’s also necessary in creating that final image. (That’s why, giving away your RAW files, your negatives, in particular to those who have no idea what to do with them, and allowing these individuals to select and/or retouch your images will distort your artist voice, quite possibly beyond recognition. That said, here’s one more thing. In particular as writers, but also as photographers, when working with editors, it is important to work with editors we can trust with our work, and who understand us and our work. And it’s also important for us to submit our best work to our editors.)

So, try this. Browse through your older (edited) images, and ask yourself:

Would you leave the images as you’ve edited them in the first place?

Would you process certain images in a different way?

If yes, how? Why?

Go ahead! Choose a picture taken years ago. Go back to the RAW file and work on it with fresh eyes and maybe a particular goal in mind. Then compare the two final, edited images. You might notice a few differences:

Lights. Camera. Action. Photo by Alina Oswald.

  • in the subject or story you photograph and how you photograph it (do you wonder why you photographed the subject in the first place, would you do it again, if yes, would you photograph it in another way, paying attention to different details, perhaps)
  • in the light–quality, direction–you choose to use to capture your subject (we you make changes, as little or as much as possible, in post production to reflect that mind change when it comes to lighting, direction of light, etc)
  • in how and what you choose to tell between the lines–that is, how you use shadows and highlights to conceal and reveal the scene, the subject (again, would you process the image in a different way to reflect those changes)
  • in deciding whether to convert or not to black-and-white; or to crop, rotate…or not
  • in particular when comes to portraits, you might realize that, today, you’d go for different poses, facial expressions, gesture, and so on

Throughout this process, you might get a chance to take a look back at your journey of becoming the creative you are today. Mostly, you might discover your inspiration, your muse, yet again.

Happy photographing!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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