We each draw inspiration from different sources. For some, it’s a gorgeous view or pretty sunset; for others, it’s the people around them that feed their creativity; and for others yet, it’s a mood thing. For me, more often than not, it’s an object or a piece of clothing that triggers the idea for a photograph — or sometimes an entire series — and that certain something is almost always vintage.
I love thrift shops, garage sales and flea markets. And I spend way too much time browsing the vintage category on Etsy for that elusive item I don’t know I need until I see it. (My latest scores were a creepy 1950s child’s fake-fur hand-warming winter muff with a plastic, googly-eyed doll head atop it and an equally creepy red-and-blue ski mask with the word “Superstar” repeatedly woven into it — who could resist?)
When I say I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it, I mean it. It’s an odd sensation, but when I find a vintage piece that immediately sparks ideas and images and thousands of converging thoughts in my brain, I know it’s a good purchase. But if it’s something I buy simply because it’s considered collectible or think I might use it “one day,” chances are I should leave it behind.
I’ve recently started to catalogue my vintage collections and during that process, I’m coming across all sorts of stuff: some of which I’ll use and items that are fabulous, but I know I won’t or already have. The ones I’ve already exhausted in images or won’t likely use, are going to be sold, and the others? My notebook is filling up rapidly with ideas and badly-drawn storyboards for new series and one-offs. It just takes that one thing, whether it’s the vintage Little Red Riding Hood mask that inspired the series I’m finishing now or the metre-high light-up plastic Santa from the 1950s that I’m featuring in my annual Christmas card, like the saying goes, it’s always something.
What inspires your photographs? Share your stories and images with me!
Pamela Klaffke is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who now works as a novelist and photographer. Her column appears weekly in the Analogue Lifestyle section of Lomography Magazine.