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For my birthday this past week I decided to treat myself to something not directly related to photography. I bought myself a PlayStation 3 gaming system and I have absolutely no regrets. I’ve always been a big fan of Sony’s PlayStation franchise but I’m not really that hardcore into video games anymore. However, it’s been very interesting to see just how far PlayStation and the rest of the videogame industry has come since the previous generation of gaming platforms was released in the early 2000s.

While it’s nice to have better graphics and sound, I think the gigantic leaps that Sony has made are only a means to a greater gaming arsenal. Unlike digital cameras, where the new camera comes out and the old cameras are thrown away, the PS3 simply gives the gamer more options. If I want to I can play newer games that look very slick with a glossy polish to them, and I can also go back to PS1 and still play some Tony Hawk Pro Skater when I feel like it. Every game and every era of gaming has its own respective feeling associated with it and that’s a very important distinction to make, there really was no bad era of gaming like there was with digital cameras.

I can appreciate the time and effort put forth by all the different videogame creators who want to create an enjoyable, seamless and immersive experience for their gamers. For me, a lot of my inspiration stems off of the things that I expose myself to, I watch a lot of movies, I look at a lot of photographs, I read a lot of books, I listen to a lot of music. Videogames are all of those things combined and all of those things have the potential to influence and inspire me. My inspiration rarely comes out of thin air, I’m good at taking ideas and twisting them around and expanding upon them. Videogames are just another opportunity for me to get ideas. Purchasing a PS3 was as much of an investment for my imagination as it was a stress relief activity.

-Alex

Ever since I started making more conceptually-based images I think I’ve realized how important it is to save the things that inspire me. There’s a multitude of things that inspire me, a rock, a song, a movie, a walk in the park. These are all great things but a lot of the ideas that come from these places are very fleeting and become difficult to encapsulate.

For these types of experiences the best solution for me is to write down my ideas (maybe in notepad on the iPhone or a text message draft) and save them for later. Sometimes I just have to do my best at capturing my idea while it is occurring or else it is lost forever. Other times however, there is an object that triggers the same thought every time I look at it. This happens to me most on Pinterest and I will explain why.

I’ve been a Tumblr user for a few years now and initially it was all well and good. I set out with the intentions of reblogging other pictures I liked as a sort of draftboard for my ideas. But, as most users would know, it gets pretty weird pretty fast. Tumblr, in my eyes, is this big online space for angsty and depressed teens or fandoms. There are some pictures that I like but overall there isn’t much variety. Almost all the photos have a shallow depth of field and some odd, tight, or otherwise what most hipsters would consider “artsy” composition and that’s fine. For me, I wanted something that was a bit easier to use and could find a large variety of images and posts that encompassed a larger range of user bases. Tumblr doesn’t do that, Pinterest does that.

Pinterest, while often getting the wrap “Isn’t that just for girls?” is actually everything that tumblr isn’t and for people like me, it’s great. Pinterest is essentially just an online space to find and organize your favorite things and ideas. What makes it truly great however, is that you can “Pin” or save something from anywhere on the web to one of your boards, kind of like Tumblr but with more organization. That way, when I want to go see all the things I want for Xmas, I can just go to my “secret” board called “Xmas 2013” where all the things I want are organized and easy to find.

Now getting back to my original point, I wanted to find a way to save the things that trigger ideas for me, and this is where Pinterest comes in. If I see something in a store while I’m out shopping, I don’t necessarily want to buy it but it still inspires me, I can take a photo of it and upload it to Pinterest. I can organize that photo onto a specific board and look at it later when I want inspiration. That’s what’s great about it, it’s organized and on the web. Normally if I wanted to save something that inspired me I would have to write down a description or find it in a book or magazine, order the thing online and then keep it in a shoebox. Now, I can just search for what I was looking for on the web, pin it to Pinterest and never have to worry about losing or forgetting what had originally inspired me.

It’s funny how taking an idea similar to what Tumblr does and changing it a little bit can create something so useful. As long as I can find one thing that I like, Pinterest will show me the other boards that thing was pinned on and I can find other things I like. Very quickly, I can get in and start pinning from just one object or thing that I was inspired by and find a ton of other similar items to expand on it. Inspiration doesn’t always have to be so fleeting, I can search, find, and pin the things that inspire me right to my own boards and end up with a neat and organized set of images to reference on a photoshoot or lead me in a new artistic direction.

If you’re an artist or creative I would highly recommend signing up for Pinterest. While it isn’t the end-all for inspiration, it certainly is an interesting tool to use from time to time. Pinterest is no substitute for going to far off places and buying extravagant things but if all you’re looking for is a spark for your imagination, Pinterest is worth keeping around.