When I got my first film camera, way before the internet was on everybody's desktop, I relied on books of famous photographers for inspiration -- Annie Leibovitz has always been a huge favourite of mine; Herb Ritts was another. I remember poring over their images, carefully looking at how they shot portraits: how they used light, and shadow. Back then, I remember investing in my first subscription to Vanity Fair, specifically for the photography and photographers that appeared in each issue. During that time, I wouldn't dare try to recreate the photographers' work -- mostly because I never learned how to develop my own shots -- but I remember closely studying their photography, in the hope that some of their talented juju might rub off on me.
Soon after Marcus and I got married, Marcus bought me my first digital SLR camera. By then, of course, the internet was everywhere, so I started looking for photographers online -- ones who weren't necessarily famous for their photography (at least, at the time) -- and I remember amassing quite a collection of online bookmarks of photographers' sites that moved me (Heather Armstrong, I remember, was an early inspiration; so was Ree Drummond). I never tried to recreate their images, or even ask them how they processed their images; I just studied them closely, played with Photoshop to appoximate what I considered their various styles, and then tweaked them some more to make them my own. And once I started putting my own photos online, I've always maintained a blogroll, listing the artists and writers who inspire me.
(To that end, here are some recent favourites:
Pobke Photography -- Someone pointed me to this talented Australian photographer just this weekend. She's really good.
Platon Antoniou -- You probably will recognize this guy's work. You'll very likely recognize his subjects. Amazing portrait photographer.
You Can't Be Serious! -- Tell you what, Australia turns out some amazing photographers. This gifted artist's work just screams "fun."
Casey Templeton -- This guy is the professional photographer's professional photographer. His images are astounding, but I love that he gives a peek into his creative approach as well.)
And incidentally, a pro tip: if you do ever try to out-and-out copy something that another photographer does, it's always good form to (a) let the photographer know before you publish your image to make sure it's okay with him; and (b) come clean and share the fact that you were inspired by that photographer with your viewers. Because when photographers give each other props, like the very talented Libertad properly did with her amazing image here, as I said, everybody wins.