Curiosity is Key to Our Inspiration


I am often asked how I come up with ideas for shoots. I’m asked, “Where do you find your inspiration?” The question always has me a bit confused, to be honest. I find inspiration everywhere! And I pull from so many sources for my ideas. Since the question comes up often, I did some digging and I finally came up with an answer that feels right to me. It’s short and sweet and to the point: I’m inspired easily because I am curious. I am curious about so many things and those things change often. I am always on a quest to learn more about a certain subject. And it’s chain effect, it can look something like this:  I’ll be in a restaurant and hear a song over the stereo. I’ll ask the waiter to find out what song is playing. If they can’t help me, I’ll try Shazam. I’ll open Spotify and listen to the song and other songs by the artist. If the music is moving me, I’ll research the artist and find out that his music was in some movies. I’ll find a movie that I have always wanted to watch and while watching that movie, become obsessed with the lighting. I’ll look up the cinematographer and read interviews he’s done. I’ll dig for the meaning behind his vision. I want to know why he chose a certain color palette or why he chose a particular lighting source for this film. And that could be what I will use for an upcoming shoot of mine. That’s just one example of how my curiosity leads to my inspiration. Here’s another example: As you all know by now, I am fascinated with macabre things and I’ve always been interested in the diet doctor murder that took place in Westchester County. Since moving back to NYC this past month, I started researching the events that led to this tragedy. I found the house where the murder took place and decided to jump in the car to go see it, to go see not only the house but the whole neighborhood. While on my mini-road trip, I discovered a State Park that is incredibly beautiful. I walked around this forest enthralled with its beauty. I met a Park Ranger and spoke to him about the history of the park. I asked him about shooting there and he gave me the contact for obtaining a permit. I will shoot at this park one day. And it has nothing to do with the Scarsdale doctor’s murder. It was the murder that led me on an adventure that accidentally landed me in this park. And that’s how my curiosity leads to photo shoots. 

Curiosity is very childlike. We explore when we’re young, everything is new and interesting. But we lose that joy of discovery as we become adults or “grow up”. As adults, we have bills to pay, families to feed, careers to go after, ladders to climb, Jones to keep up with. We forget about our curiosity because we don’t have time for such frivolity. For an artist, to let go of our curiosity is a certain type of death. When we kill off our obsession to find things that interest us and that leads us down roads to wonderful discovery, we snuff out our inner fire of passion and desire to know more. Art is always evolving. It always seeks more. 

I’ve always felt that the internet has really messed with our desire to remain curious. One would argue that isn’t Google a great way to feed our curiosity instantly? I would say these smartphone and tools like I mentioned, Spotify and Shazam, are useful but true curiosity, the patient quest for deeper understanding that births our insight and creation, becomes thwarted because we stop interacting with the world and we become distracted by TOO much information.  Curiosity should be getting us out of the house, out from behind the computer, interacting with people, exploring new places, doing things we wouldn’t have thought of doing yesterday. In other words, taking the road less traveled to discover something new. 

These are just some ideas to throw out there and help you to reawaken your childlike sense of curiosity. Nothing too technical or educational here but without our imaginations, our work suffers greatly. Photographs taken without passion or insight are stale and uninteresting. So remain curious, my friends. It will open the doors of perception just as Aldous Huxley wrote many years ago. 

Melissa Rodwell