3 Steps to Inspiration with Patch 36 Photography


All Photos by Jenna Stoller of Patch 36 Photography

As artists, we constantly seek ways to bring color into our work and creatively capture our subjects.  Jenna Stoller, owner of Patch Thirty-Six Photography, knows first-hand how challenging it can be to overcome a creative roadblock.  In this article, Jenna shares with us where she looks for inspiration and which photographers she turns to when she needs to rejuvenate her imagination.

You provide a lot of inspiration to other photographers. Which photographers and artists inspire you?  If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?

As a photographer, or artist, or creative I (most likely similar to everyone reading this post) tend to find inspiration all around me – a good magazine, the sun shining through the trees, a food blogger, an expertly filmed movie etc. It’s everywhere. For the purpose of this article, I chose three different photography related sources in which I constantly refer to when my creative mojo seems to be running low. I would like to share not only who I find inspiring but why I find them inspiring. I feel any Creative should go through this process. I can attribute most of my photographic growth to this process of reviewing inspiring photographers and then defining why I like them so much.


Hugh Forte:

Hugh Forte is a photographer based in Orange County California. I do not know him personally, but I follow his work like a hawk. There are so many things I like about his photography. First of all, he has inspired me in the use of negative space. He ROCKS his negative space. He also has an awesome grip on how to light his subjects. If you look through his work you almost always find that he seeks out odd pockets of strange light. He doesn’t just use a blanket of back light or open shade, but he will find those little nooks and crannies that have streaming light or an odd reflection that is shining in. Somehow too, he makes full sunlight on the entire face work great. He shows very little work that is traditionally posed (both people looking at the camera) so I also find his art of posing inspiring. The last thing about Mr. Forte’s work that is swoon worthy is his choice of location. I live in the midwest, and while it’s beautiful in its own way, we don’t have the varying landscapes like he does. We have flat fields…seriously you should SEE what our kids call a hill. While living in Indiana has it’s advantages (hello housing market), in the photographic world it can sometimes get a little old. Hugh does a lot of traveling from the looks of it so he gets some awesome scenery. The visual beauty of his locations draws me in even more completely.


Max Wanger:

Max Wanger‘s portfolio is eye ecstasy. One of the things I find so inspiring about Max (again I don’t know him personally) is the motion in his photography. It’s obvious that he gets his subjects to move and to have fluidity. This gives eye appeal in that you feel like he has captured the real life not the posed life. Some of my favorite work that is published on his site is that of his son Dash. Dash is going to have such a gift to hand down to his own children someday. Max manages to portray Dash’s personality through the photos, and I can’t help but smiling. While it’s harder for me to follow Max’s technique (I would love to watch him shoot), it’s the spontaneity in his images that inspires me most of all.


Jen Huang:

My final photographer is Jen Huang for many reasons. One, she shoots film. I dabble in film, and by dabble I mean that I’ve shot a couple of rolls and had some good laughs at them. It’s just not easy. You have to really know your technical stuff to get it to even expose properly let alone achieve your vision. Jen ROCKS the film. I seriously feel fresh air blowing when I view her photography (check her out, you’ll know what I mean). The way she utilizes backlighting is out of this world. I’m not sure if I was even with her in person that the light would be as pretty as it ends up looking through her photography. One way in which she has changed my photography is by including things that are beautiful but not necessarily with subjects in them.  From a wedding, for example. It gives a broader feel of the overall day; the weather, the vegetation, the buildings etc.


So now what? What do you do with all these inspiring sources other than drool? It’s destructive to just sit and compare yourself to others all the while dropping the “I may as well just give up now” bomb on yourself. This is how I learn from inspiring sources…

1. First define WHY you find them inspiring. What is it about their work that you love?

2. How can you incorporate their techniques into your own photography while still embracing your own individual style?

3. Study, Study, Study…Try to see where their lighting is coming from, try and guess what time of day they are shooting, notice their processing (are the blacks black, or are they muted, do they use grain etc.).

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

― Maya Angelou


Jenna Stoller is an Indiana born wedding & lifestyle photographer. She loves all things design, her four kids (2 boys 2 girls) and her husband Andy. She lives out in the country on a little PATCH of land where trees are plenty and internet is scarce. Her photographic style is romantic, pure & soft.


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