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Inspiration from the AIPA Image Nation Conference

This week’s post is not about techniques or a recent project, but on where I find my photographic inspiration. I do turn to “Master” photographers who are at the pinnacle of the industry to get hero shots to reference. People like Chase Jarvis, Michael Clark, Joe McNally, Jimmy Chin are the photographers I regularly draw from. Their work is amazing and they get to travel the world shooting famous or not so famous people in exotic locations and have their work featured in the top magazines. But I am also inspired by other people who are not so well known- like Lottie Hedley and Conor Ashleigh.

Both of them presented their work at the 2013 AIPA Image Nation conference in Auckland, this past weekend. It is an annual event where the top photographers from around New Zealand get together to network and hear a select panel from across the photographic industry present their work from people who have recently started out in the industry to seasoned pros who have been around for a long time. Though they were not the most experienced photographers or had the most technically polished work, they both managed to inspire me through their stories.

They both came from very different backgrounds and shoot different subjects, the two things they both shared was an ability to listen others, which they both used to find interesting stories to shoot, and an ability to create networks around themselves (communities) that opened doors for them while working on various projects through the connections made in those networks. Lottie’s ability to listen helped her earn the trust of her subjects so much that she ended up being invited to stay with a farming family she was shooting in Maine in their house while she was working on the project. Conor’s work was also about listening to his subjects, but he is also really passionate about building lasting connections with his subjects. Most his subjects have ended up becoming close personal friends of his by the end of the projects and regularly keep him updated on their lives and situation, which is impressive considering a lot of his work is done in developing countries with people with little or no English skills.

Though I would love to be on the same level as Jimmy Chin or Joe McNally some day, I am not there yet. What I can do is follow Lottie and Conor’s advice and listen more to the people around me to find interesting stories and develop strong relationships with the people in my network to help me open doors to the stories and images I want to create.

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