Staying Inspired During Covid-19

Words Nathan Richards

First off, let me intro­duce myself. My name is Nathan Richards. I am a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­ph­er orig­i­nal­ly from North Car­oli­na, USA, but now locat­ed in Lon­don, UK. I am 6’1” tall and look a lot like Brad Pitt…. Ok, I’m actu­al­ly 5’7” and look like a hob­bit, but who cares.

I want to start by say­ing I com­plete­ly under­stand the seri­ous­ness of this virus. My heart goes out to every­one who has been effect­ed. I know we will be back to a more nor­mal way of life soon, but that doesn’t make the here and now any eas­i­er. How­ev­er, I tru­ly believe it is impor­tant to try and find a few ways to make this lock­down just a lit­tle bet­ter. Just remem­ber, you are not alone in this razi­ness. There are peo­ple who want to talk to you, and you can always DM me on Insta­gram. I would be more than hap­py to talk.

When I was asked to write an arti­cle about stay­ing inspired and cre­ative as a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­ph­er dur­ing his pan­dem­ic, I start­ed think­ing about what I do each day for my career as well as for myself to stay inspired. I real­ized that I am con­stant­ly doing some­thing that inspires me in one way or anoth­er. Every­one gets inspired dif­fer­ent­ly, but here is a break­down of how I’m stay­ing inspired while stuck at home.

When it comes to fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy, stay­ing inspired is not too hard for me. My career as a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­ph­er is one of the most impor­tant things in my life, so I am con­stant­ly fill­ing my mind with the work of past and present leg­ends of fash­ion to progress my knowl­edge of this beau­ti­ful thing we call fash­ion. Whether it’s fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phers or fash­ion design­ers, I am always study­ing imagery and think­ing about how I would per­son­al­ly shoot what I’m see­ing. I think that when you study these things, you can find inspi­ra­tion in your day to day life. Oth­er ways I stay inspired while stuck inside are watch­ing pho­tog­ra­phy tuto­ri­als online, read­ing fash­ion mag­a­zines, prac­tic­ing retouch­ing, paint­ing, and watch­ing YouTube. On YouTube, there are mil­lions of videos on pho­tog­ra­phy. I per­son­al­ly love watch­ing behind the scenes videos of shoots and study­ing how they are light­ing the mod­el. These are a few very sim­ple things I do to keep my cre­ative brain alive. I will also set­up a small back­drop in my lounge and pho­to­graph my wife and pup­py. No, this won’t be the cov­er of Vogue, but it will help me study light­ing and train my eye. You know what peo­ple say, “If you want to get bet­ter, keep tak­ing pho­tos.” If you don’t have a wife or pup­py where you are in lock­down, you can always find ran­dom things around your space. Pho­to­graph them as a still life project like Irv­ing Penn did. There is always some­thing you can take pho­tos of. I think it is impor­tant to do one thing every­day that moves my career in the cor­rect direc­tion. I am not say­ing you shouldn’t have days where you don’t work, but for myself, I can’t relax until I do at least one thing to progress my career.

My per­son­al life is where I strug­gle to stay inspired. When I am not work­ing, I feel guilty for not work­ing which makes it dif­fi­cult for me to relax. This lock­down is a good exer­cise for me to try and get bet­ter at being ok with not work­ing all the time. How­ev­er, I’m still try­ing to find a few things out­side of fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy that inspire me. Play­ing gui­tar is one of the ways I find a bit of inspi­ra­tion when I’m not in work mode. I have been play­ing gui­tar for a few years now, but it is still new enough where learn­ing a new song takes time, and time is the one thing I now have a lot of. I have been lis­ten­ing to a lot of pod­casts as well. These pod­casts all tend to be about pho­tog­ra­phy, fash­ion, or busi­ness. In my opin­ion, you can learn a lot about your­self and how you want to live just by lis­ten­ing to these. Study­ing cook­ing and enjoy­ing a hot cup of cof­fee are oth­er ways I spend my quar­an­tine. If you know me, you know I like to eat and drink ( too much ) cof­fee, so study­ing about these things gets me excit­ed and allows me to have an escape from the crazi­ness for a few min­utes. Recent­ly, I have been talk­ing with oth­er pho­tog­ra­phers online. Speak­ing to oth­ers who are expe­ri­enc­ing the same sit­u­a­tion as I am helps put every­thing into per­spec­tive. It’s also great to talk to oth­ers about your ideas for future work. This could poten­tial­ly help you, or the oth­er per­son find the cre­ativ­i­ty that could be miss­ing.

I hope this arti­cle has helped you find some ways to be inspired dur­ing your lock­down. If not, at least you killed a few min­utes of lock­down. Just remem­ber, if you’re lucky enough to be healthy dur­ing this pan­dem­ic, you are already win­ning. Stay inside and stay healthy.

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@nathanrichardsphoto