I began my career as a documentary filmmaker many years ago. My first gig was working on a documentary called “MGM: When the Lion Roars.” The film covered many decades of the studio and Hollywood history. I was responsible for finding and cataloguing all the archive footage needed to tell the story. This included newsreels, behind the scenes footage and other supporting film material. I spent months in the MGM film archive climbing ladders and digging through dusty old film cans watching footage that hadn’t been seen in decades. In a short amount of time, I became an expert on all things MGM.
Ever since that project I’ve enjoyed that process of discovery. I have researched many projects and have become well-versed in many subjects that I previously knew nothing about. Now with the internet and my interest in photography, I no longer need to climb ladders and dig through old dusty cans. I can (and do) spend hours in the comfort of my own home just looking at images from other photographers. It provides inspiration, spawns ideas for my own work and is making me a better photographer.
If you are interested in photography (and I’m guessing you are given that you’re reading this) I would recommend you do the same.
If you’re not sure where to start, simply google the following phase “Famous ______ photographs (or photographers) ” The blank could be filled with whatever interests you. By way of example, try “street” or “food” or “portrait” or whatever your favorite subject is. Then select “images” on the search results page and voilà! your research has begun. Using this search is a also good way to look back in time so you will also get a history lesson while you’re looking at images.
You can also go to image libraries that provide photos for licensing. There are many but one of the biggest is Getty Images. Over the years they have bought up the rights to many smaller libraries and collections and it is now all databased on their site. It doesn’t cost to look and you will find a plethora of images which will in turn lead you to further investigation.
While this one may seem obvious, simply google “best photo websites”, or “best art photo websites” and that too should occupy the rest of your day.
If you want to see what others are doing lately, a site that I like is 500px.com which you too can join and upload your photos. The images are simply amazing and there are a lot of international photographers on 500px so you can see how people around the world are shooting.
Another of my favorites is lomography.com/photos. This is an art photo site that also sells products… some of which I use myself so it’s interesting to see what others are doing with the same equipment.
So if you want to be a better photographer I would highly recommend a little research. It’s fun, inspirational and educational and without even getting off the couch you will become a better photographer. In short, it’s time well spent.