How to: curate Instagram favourites to inspire your own work

Words and images by Laura Babb

At SNAP this year one of our speakers Andrew Billington talked about his pre-shoot routine.  Part of it involves keeping an inspiration board of non-wedding photography that he uses to train his eye and inspire his approach.  

Every year I have one or two goals in mind that I want to work towards.  In previous years it's been improving my storytelling and documentary images.  This year I really wanted to push colour as an element in my work so I decided to take Andrew's advice and curate some inspiration.  

 Credits top from left:  @forrestaguar ,  @mariannetaylorphotography,   @forrestaguar , Middle row all  @mirandamakaroff  Bottom left and middle  @mirandamakaroff , bottom right  @porcelainhope

Credits top from left: @forrestaguar, @mariannetaylorphotography, @forrestaguar,
Middle row all @mirandamakaroff
Bottom left and middle @mirandamakaroff, bottom right @porcelainhope

I started curating images using the Instagram "saved" function.  In the mobile app you can click a little bookmark icon while browsing your feed, which allows you to save images you like for later.  No one can see what you've saved and the person who posted the image won't be notified.  We won't even talk about the potential creepy uses of that button.... don't be creepy, people. 

My criteria for curating these images was bold colours, strong use of graphic elements and, where possible, having a little bit of a quirky feel.  

You can also create collections of saved images.  To be honest I haven't really delved into this functionality yet, as I like to keep things simple for the sake of my easily distracted brain.

Every couple of weeks I review the images I've saved, to hone and refine my inspiration.  

 Credits from top left  @clarissabonet , @ tonykellyworld , @tonykellyworld From middle left all @ adrienneraquel  From bottom left @adrienneraquel, @ tylersphotos  and  @bisforbabb  (me!)

Credits from top left @clarissabonet, @tonykellyworld, @tonykellyworld
From middle left all @adrienneraquel
From bottom left @adrienneraquel, @tylersphotos and @bisforbabb (me!)

I delete images that don't fit with the overall asthetic of my saved images and I add new images as I find them while browsing.

Did you notice that one of my own images crept in?  In fact there are quite a few of my own shots on my inspiration board now, as I want to see how my own work fits into what I'm trying to achieve.  

And what do I do with the inspiration once I've found it?  It's really as simple as looking at it before each shoot.  I look at the colours, shapes and elements and I try to focus on those things before I start shooting.  Then when I'm in the middle of a shoot I make a conscious effort to seek out colour as an element and to use colour as a backdrop or a key element of my images.  

If you're looking to refine the consistency of your work this approached combined with a portfolio exercise I've talked about before can really help.    Swing by this post and check out point 2 for details of the exercise.  

Have you currated inspiration to inform your own work?  We'd love to hear about your approach in the comments!