As photographers we’re in a fortunate era where we have more tools at our disposal than ever before. That said, there’s one well known one I have used consistently for years, that many photographers neglect.
When I first started out in photography after buying my first camera, it didn’t take me long to realize I was in love with portraiture. As much as I enjoyed taking my camera on adventures to shoot just about anything (and I still do), there’s something about photographing people that resonates with me. Before long, I was spending an hour or two every day looking at portraits on Flickr, 500px, and on photography forums. It became an obsession and so I felt my time was better justified, I’d save any image that I connected with. It’s almost impossible for me to unpack what “connecting with an image” entails, but despite how high my standards were, I just knew when I was going to save a portrait, and I knew instantly.
What started off as an odd hobby for when I wasn’t shooting, became as way of collating gargantuan mood and inspiration boards. I began categorizing shots in to themes, as well as saving every portrait I selected to a master board. I had absolutely no idea when I started doing this that it would become a source of crucial information and ideas, not only for me, but for many others too. The well-known tool I had chosen to use was Pinterest.
What started as a bizarre and thoughtless compulsion morphed in to a useful but mostly selfish habit, and then finally in to a habit that saw worth for others… many others. In fact, at the time of writing this, my Pinterest boards garner around 100,000 unique monthly viewers which is more than any other social media platform I run. The most frequented is of course my collation of portraits I love, but also some of my own work and it acts as a big referrer to my portfolio and other websites. I in no way intended it to be this, but rather a tool for me to gather ideas and moodboards from, which is why I have an enormous number of “secret” boards hidden from the public.
The benefit I feel photographers just don’t utilize enough is a centralized database of themed moodboards. Every possible genre, location, and brief you may have or get in the future can have a huge selection of already scouted images for ideas between you and any creative directors or agencies you work with. In fact, it has got to the point where if I’m arranged an editorial style portrait shoot, my newly created boards are referencing predating boards of mine.
Furthermore, if you follow other creatives who use Pinterest effectively, you have a home feed of potential contributions to your boards without even searching. I cannot recommend enough creating an orderly visual database of styles, techniques, locations, and shoots you enjoy. Not only do they prove fruitful when you’re working on an idea, but also when you’re feeling a little flat and jaded.
Do you use Pinterest for these purposes? Comment your Pinterest account in the comments below; I’m always looking for creatives to follow!