Every Photographer Has Influences and Sources of Inspiration

by | Nov 23, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

We don’t make a photograph just with a camera, we bring to the act of photography all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved.” – Ansel Adams

Over the years I’ve found that photographers get inspiration from many different sources. One of my photographer friends finds it in old master’s paintings.

Here are some of my influences: I get my inspiration mostly from the images that I see in the many classic movies that I enjoy watching. You can read some of my other thoughts on this subject here.

Especially old movies. That’s why when I find myself in a creative rut, I shoot some digital images in direct monochrome mode to help prod me out of it. And these days, I’m more likely, as I just did a few days ago, load a roll of Kodak Tri-X into one of my film cameras to get the true black and white experience.

If you think that’s shooting a few digital images in direct monochrome mode is a bad idea because you worry about what might happen if you change your mind at some later date and want that original image to be in color? Here’s one solution: Most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have a RAW+JPEG option that lets you capture a monochrome (JPEG) and color (RAW) file at the same time. Some dual-slot cameras, even let you simultaneously save each file type to a different card.

If you prefer to capture in color and convert to black and white later in the digital darkroom that’s not a bad idea either. For me, the there are two advantages of using this approach for portraiture: First, I can show my subject a black and white images on the preview screen so they can see the kind of effect I am trying to accomplish. Second, all of my favorite retouching tools, such as Imagenomics’ Portraiture, work better with a color image than a monochrome file. I must confess, and if you saw my recent post about infrared color balance, you know that I’m using an older version of Portraiture and it works just fine.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn-7.nikon-cdn.com/Images/Learn-Explore/Photography-Techniques/2019/CA-Chris-Ogonek-JPG-or-RAW/Media/RAW-and-JPEG-screenshot-english.jpg?resize=347%2C260&ssl=1So I typically use the RAW (color) file, retouch it, then convert to monochrome using Silver Efex Pro or Exposure Software’s Exposure. Today’s image is one that mixes both in-camera and post capture techniques for what I hope is a bit of an homage to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita…or not.

Update: This is a theme that I especially want to pursue along with my recent interest in film photography. For example, Ferrania’s P30 cinema stock was used in some of the world’s most beloved movies, including La Dolce Vita. A version was created for still photography at the company’s rebuilt factory that’s located on the grounds of the original company in Cairo Montenotte, Italy. Each roll features a high silver content to produce a natively high-contrast film with almost no visible grain. Shadows are deep and rich. Highlights are punchy and sharp. I’m really looking forward to trying this film. Look for a film review…real soon now.


My book Creative Digital Monochrome Effects also includes a chapter on IR photography, is available from Amazon for $30.90 with used copies starting at around two bucks. At that giveaway price it’s a great gift for your favorite photographer or yourself. No Kindle version is available, sorry.