As a professional creative, I’m trained to do research and finding ideas for creative projects, so utilizing research skills for portrait ideas came easy.
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I enjoy creating mood boards for my portrait shoots to help my models understand the style and tone of the shoot that I‘m reaching for. This helps everyone on-site work towards a goal and keeps our eye on the prize.
How to Find Portrait Shoot Ideas
When I search for inspiration and ideas, I repeatedly visit the same places and keep detailed notes for each resource. If you’re looking for quick ideas for portrait shoots, then social media is your number one resource. Pinterest and Instagram are the best for visual ideas.
Below I’ve created a list of websites and mobile apps that I use to find portrait shoot ideas and concepts. These are the first places I visit when I start my research and I’m needing to create mood boards for my next project.
Pinterest is the best visual experience for photoshoot ideas.
I like the ability to create and save boards for all types of concepts. It works best in helping you stay organized by allowing you to create individual boards for your ideas.
You can create as many boards as you like. They can remain public or you can make them private just for your eyes only.
You can share these boards with potential models, makeup artists, and team members to give everyone a better idea of the concepts you have in mind.
Pinterest is also collaborative, so you can share boards with other people. This makes it easy to get multiple ideas from your team in one place.
If you’ve never created a Pinterest account, you’re missing out.
In additional to hashtag searches, you can also do image searches to find similar results.
The Pinterest application can be used on desktops and mobile. If you find yourself in need of quick inspiration, Pinterest is a great place to start.
Magazines are a great place to see high-end fashion concepts, lifestyle photography and model posing all from the best in the industry. This is why magazines are a great resource for portrait shoot ideas.
Browse through magazine categories such as fashion, style, music, and business. All these categories have examples of some great portrait photography.
If you’re interested in magazines, check out some fashion and style magazines here.
If you like an old school approach, you can purchase used magazines from your local bookstores or online and cut out the pages and images you like the most. Create a physical mood board to take with you to your shoot or have on hand.
Take some time and really dive into the articles and see the creative photography and try to understand why the photographer made his creative choices.
Photography books and magazines should be on your list of places to find portrait shoot inspiration.
Just a tip: I highly recommend music magazines. These are a great place for artistic portrait shoots and really cool inspiration.
3. Instagram & Facebook – Social Media
Instagram is a main source of inspiration for many photographers. With millions of users uploading content daily, it can be easy to get lost scrolling through your feed. But, this can also provide countless ideas for your next portrait shoot.
Get started by looking up popular hashtags to find cool trends and ideas. This is a good way to get inspired by the creative community.
Follow some of your favorite photographers so you can be up-to-date on styles that interest you the most. Now don’t get too invested in Instagram as it can be both good and bad for photographers.
Facebook is also a great place to find photography inspiration. You can join hundreds of creative groups or find local groups and see what other photographers are doing.
You can pretty much find groups for all styles of photography. Just do a quick search in your app to find a match.
Check around for inspiration, and don’t be afraid to ask questions to other photographers in the groups.
A word of caution: Don’t get too caught up in the number of likes or followers someone has for their work on social media. Don’t compare your day one to their day 10,000.
4. Photography Blogs & Websites
They both provide great learning material for photographers of all levels, and also have a great community and large forums for finding just what you need.
The photography can range from landscape, product, and portrait photography, and I always feel like it’s a good idea to study other genres of photography for learning purposes.
Check out the forums to find answers to your questions, and make sure to check out all the user uploaded photography.
They are constantly holding contests as well, and these are a perfect way to get inspired for your next shoot.
Do a quick Google search for photography blogs and you will see there are thousands of websites and blogs on the internet. Stay organized by bookmarking your favorite sites!
5. Online Art Communities
Just like blogs and general photography websites that are developed by small teams, some websites are community driven.
Behance.net is owned by Adobe and features work from creative professionals from all over the world. It’s an amazing way to see what’s happening in the creative industry in general.
Creative professionals post projects ranging from graphic design, web design, and so much more. The photography section is a perfect place to find inspiration from popular and experienced artists in the industry.
You can start an account and save mood boards just like Pinterest.com. You can even start sharing your own photography on the site. It’s a good way to ask for feedback and grow your network.
500px is also a website dedicated to photography and digital imaging. It’s a great place to see the technical details of a photo uploaded by photographers.
The site has undergone many changes over the years, but it’s still a good resource for portrait inspiration.
6. Movies & Cinema
Why settle for still imagery. Movies and TV shows are a perfect place to find photography inspiration. From cool camera angles to unique color grading, watching movies from different genres can help spark that creative drive.
Look at the character outfits being professionally tailored. Look at the lighting in the different scenes and how it can set a mood for your portraits.
I recently finished binge-watching Altered Carbon on Netflix and was dying to do a futuristic shoot after the first episode. The neon lights and futuristic details gave me a huge boost of ideas.
Venture out and look at some historical films or classics. There is a reason many stay relevant even though they are older movies.
YouTube is a solid place for portrait inspiration as the website has channels geared toward portrait photographers and content creators.
Do a quick search and check out the thousands of behind-the-scenes videos and how-to videos of photoshoots. The best videos have behind-the-scene footage so you can see shoots from start to finish.
Study how they’re preparing for shoots and see if you’re missing a step in your own workflow.
YouTube is now the 2nd largest search engine in the world, so I am sure you can find the style or inspiration you’re looking for.
Photography Inspiration comes in all forms
Keep in mind you can find inspiration from all forms of media. My point is you don’t always have to stare at a screen to find cool concepts. Get out and look at the world around you.
Take a walk in a local park, and maybe you will find a special location that has the perfect lighting but don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the inspiration you were looking for.
Remember, photography and creative projects are always evolving with the times. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a perfect concept, but I have no doubt you will find some cool ideas.
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