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Stay Inspired – Create a Catalog of Inspiration

How to feel more inspired? What inspires me? It's good to ask yourself these questions. For me, it's a collection of things. I have always loved to view paintings, drawings, watch movies and listen to music to feel inspired. Of course, there are plenty of ways to stay inspired. Some work for others and some don't.

In this weeks tutorial, we are building a catalog of inspiration which is one of my favorite ways to stay inspired. Even if you are not a photographer, I recommend that you have one of these lists. It is one of the best ways to get fired up.

Surround yourself with inspiring works of art. Even though you might be the same as me and your go-to source of inspiration is nature, I believe it’s essential to have an archive of inspiring works of art in your home, on your computer or online. 

Whenever you lack inspiration, or can’t quite figure out what it is you want to create, I recommend that you flip through your catalog of inspiration and get excited about photography or whatever it is you enjoy making. 

Online or Offline?

You can create these types of catalogs in many ways. My recommendation is to have an Inspiration -folder divided into subfolders on your computer. 


If you wish to build an online list, I highly recommend Pinterest. It doesn’t work great with notes, but other than that it’s a great way to search for inspiration and put anything you like on different boards. 


Pinterest Overview

Pinterest Overview


Divide your catalog into categories or folders. Be intentional when you are creating your lists. Stay off from the place of "this get's more likes than this". It's the wrong way to start producing anything.

1. Notes

The first folder includes your notes from the different photo shoots you have had. Notes come handy when your memory starts to fade, and it has been a long time since you captured the photographs. With notes, you can keep the focus on your inner inspiration, feelings, and vision. I highly recommend you take a few minutes after each photo shoot to put down few words about the work you just captured. There are many ways you can archive your photo notes. 

To keep my notes in one place, I take a photograph of my moleskin page and send it to my Evernote with a tag: notes. As I'm sitting on my computer editing the photos, I can search and flip through my notes quickly.

2. Your best photos

Select photographs YOU are most proud of and put it into a folder. Better yet print them, hang them and be continuously inspired. Be sure that you enjoy the work. Why do you like this and why does it inspire you? Don't be fooled by how other people saw the creation, or how many likes the photographs got in social media be true to yourself. Stop chasing those likes.

3. Movies & Cinema Stills

Create a list of movies that you love and visually stunning movies that you like to watch. Do not care if other people find those movies garbage, stay true to yourself. Include stills from those movies in the folder. This way you can easily see some of the moving scenes without going through the whole film. (Hint Tumblr and Pinterest have a lot of beautiful cinematography you can go through.)

4. Quotes & Books & Poems

Create a folder with your favorite books, quotes, and poems. The fantastic aspect about amazon kindle is that you can share your citations and send them to your email straight from your device. Some people frame their favorite quotes so that they can see them daily. By all means, do it if you find it inspiring. 

5. Paintings, Illustrations &
Graphic Designs

This part can be a great addition to your inspiration catalog. I love to have a folder including paintings, illustrations, drawings and graphic designs. If this is something you find inspiring as well, do it! Again ask yourself why do you like this and why does it inspire you? What is it in this work of art that you enjoy?

6. Music

Make a list of music that inspires you. Do at least a couple of different playlists that you can switch between depending on your mood. I recommend using Spotify because of the massive amount of different kinds of music you can find. You might want to listen to the music while you are driving to a photo shoot or when you are editing the photographs. 

7. Photography

Whenever you see something unique in the photography world, take a screen capture or download the picture and put it into the photography folder. I rarely go through the photographs, because I tend to favor the other mediums for inspiration. Again ask yourself why do you like this and why does it inspire you? What is it in this work of art that you enjoy?

Pinterest Boards Example

Pinterest Boards Example

I hope you enjoyed this article! Have you ever had anything like the inspiration catalog? Has it helped you to feel inspired? 

Would you be interested in a guide to find your unique style in photography? I'm considering to create a free guide for you. Let me know!

If you enjoy my free tutorials and want to support them, or you want to learn how to create unique ideas for your photography and create work you that inspires you? You can learn it all from my video course Day & Night. We are running a Summer sale on it now. Check it out here.

Have a wonderful new week and keep on creating work that excites you. 



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How to find inspiration for your photography?

In this weeks tutorial, I’m going to talk about the forever relevant subject: inspiration. Have you ever been uninspired to take photographs? I sure have been. And as I was talking with my photography friends yesterday, it’s quite common to lose interest and inspiration to take pictures. When you are in that place, you need to decide if it’s time to take a break or push through it. I think that the lack of inspiration comes every now and then, but when it happens, you need to take a step back and examine why is it that you find yourself lacking inspiration? I also wrote about motivation a few weeks ago so check that out as well.

These are the four tools I use to find my inspiration.


If you feel so uninspired that you don't even want to think about photography, it might be time to take a break. I recommend starting with a short break so you won't drift along too long. Schedule a date for examples a week from now and put it into your calendar. When I'm in this situation, I schedule at least two hours and focus on the next following tools to figure out if I can find inspiration.


The second advice I want to give to you is to go back all the way when you first started photography. What was the first inspiration you got before you took photography as a hobby? Write down a couple of sentences and reasons. It will help you to get into a state of inspiration and you might just want to grab your camera and head out! 

For example, my very first inspiration to start photography came to me over ten years ago. I saw a striking autumn landscape view of a sunset. The field was covered with mist. I stopped my car and was thinking to myself that these type of moments in time I want to start to capture.


It is somewhat counter-intuitive, but sometimes you need to photograph only for yourself. If you wish to find your true inspiration, there is no better way than photographing for yourself.

It can be paralyzing when you shoot only to share the photographs. I have found myself in situations that I'm just photographing because I want to share something with my audience. It takes away the whole experience of pressing the shutter and enjoying the moment if you are already thinking about how people will react to your work. Create for the sake of creating! 


If you still don't find the inspiration, go to your catalog of photographs and go through them. See if there are photographs you just love. Write down why you find the images inspiring and if you know how you got encouraged to capture the pictures, write it down as well. Focus on the uplifting moments of your photography journey, and you will inspire yourself to create more of those experiences.


Mikko Lagerstedt – Long Shadows II – Kilpisjärvi, Finland 2018

Mikko Lagerstedt – Long Shadows II – Kilpisjärvi, Finland 2018

I hope you enjoyed this weeks tutorial. Next week I will talk about how I create a catalog of inspiration. I use it now and then when I feel uninspired with my work. Have an inspiring week!

I would love to hear from you. How do you find inspiration? What was the first inspiration you got to start photography?



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Set goals for your photography – The first step on becoming a full-time creative

In this weeks tutorial, we are talking about how to set goals for your photography, and what it takes to become full-time creative. As I said earlier in one of my previous tutorials "How to keep yourself motivated and take better photographs" asking questions is crucial if you want to become better! Every six months I find myself asking the same questions about my photography. I do find these questions to be valuable in other areas of my life as well. 

If you are aspiring to become a full-time photographer, I think it’s essential to be intentional about your work and path. If you want to do photography for a living or if you wish to get your photography to the next level these questions will give you the guide to do so.

Take at least two days to focus on your goals. I recommend to switch yourself into offline mode. Yeah, it's difficult but I find it so important! Keep yourself out of the internet and don’t watch the news or anything that might affect your decision making. Do it for just two days, and I promise you that you will be inspired to create your goal list. And the best thing is that you will set goals that motivate you.  

Setting Goals

I set my yearly goals at the end of each year sometimes even earlier. If I skip this step, I don’t have a clear path I want to drive myself, and that is not good. Early on I just focused on creating, and my primary goal was to become a better photographer. As time has gone this goal is not relevant to me, of course, I want to become better all the time, but it doesn’t drive me forward. The key takeaway is that the things you want to achieve each year should excite you not others! Don’t just look at what everyone else is doing, do your thing. 

I use four categories to set my goals each year.

1. The Craft

Even if you are working hard on other parts of photography such as social media and pitching clients, you still need to put in the work to take photographs. It’s a no-brainer, but even I have sometimes been too focused on other parts of my business and in those moments I have lacked motivation to take pictures. And that's when planning comes in handy. When you are setting goals for your photography, try to ask yourself the following questions. 

How many times do I want to photograph weekly?
How much time do I want to spend on post-processing?
hat type of photography excites me at this moment?
Where do I want to take my photographs?
What kind of photography projects do I want to focus on? 

2. Community

Having a community is essential in today's World. It gives you purpose and insight on how you are doing. I usually ask these questions about the community.

How do I want to reach people?
What is my goal for my channels?
Do I want to grow them and why?
Where do I want to focus more and why?
How many photographs do I want to share weekly?
What does it take to do these things?
Who other photographers would I like to spend my time with? 

3. Traveling

Most of the photographers I know have fantastic traveling plans for each year. Sometimes I have those as well, but at times I want to focus on the nearby locations. I set my goals based on the following questions.

What are my traveling goals this year?
Where do I want to visit and why?
What places excite me?

4. Money

I have never been the kind of person who focuses on money goals; however, when you want to become full-time photographer, you need to set goals for your finances as well. Break it down to these questions. 

How much money do I want to make with my photography this year? Why?
Where do I want to spend the money?
How much do I need for living expenses and traveling?
How do I want to make money?
What has worked best in the past year or so?
What type of projects do I feel inspired to do?
What kind of clients do I want to work with?

Take Action

For each of the categories, I try to put down at least three to six action steps I can take each week to move forward. If I skip this step in the planning process, I find myself focusing on things that will never lead me toward my goals. Such as scrolling the internet and social media. Losing track of time and looping in this devious cycle. Make sure to plan your actions, put them on your calendar! 

Keep track of your goals

As you are doing the goal setting, put a reminder on your calendar to go through your goals in one month. Make sure you have selected a date that works best for you to do this type of analyzing. Ask yourself another set of questions to keep yourself on the right path. 

Do I feel that my actions are in line with my goals? 
What bugs me about my photography? Why?
In which areas do I feel stuck or lack motivation?
How do I keep moving towards my goals?
What is the next action step I can take to change the projection towards my goals?


Damn, that’s a lot of questions! But that’s how you keep yourself on the right path. Let me know if you found this article to be helpful in any area of your life.  

Mikko Lagerstedt – Arise – 2018, Finland

Mikko Lagerstedt – Arise – 2018, Finland



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How to add a glow to photographs in Photoshop

In this weeks tutorial, we are adding a glowing effect to photographs in Photoshop. I received a wonderful comment from Melissa, one of my readers regarding that it would be interesting to see a tutorial for Photoshop. So I thought why not share one of my favorite tricks on how to create glow in Photoshop. 

This Photoshop trick works perfectly when you have a bright light source or sources in the photograph. Without further ado let's go ahead and open the image in Photoshop and start the process. 

Duplicate Layer

Use shortcut CTRL/CMD + J to duplicate the background layer. 


Convert to Smart Object

When we are working with this type of effect, it's useful to convert the layer to Smart Objects since we can edit the effects after we have made them.

Convert the duplicated layer into Smart Object by right-clicking on top of the layer and select Convert to Smart Object.



Now give the layer a blur. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur

Add blur to the image. Around 40–100 pixels seems to work most of the time. Don't worry about the amount at this moment since you can edit it later. 


Highlights and Contrast

Add Curves adjustment layer above the blurred layer. 

Create a Clipping Mask by right clicking on top of the curves layer and select Create Clipping Mask. This will now make sure that the Curves adjustments only affect the layer below. 

Pull up the highlights and pull down the shadows slightly to create S-curve with curves. 


Go back to the blurred layer and pull down the opacity to around 15-30% depending on your image. I recommend to go with a low opacity and don't overdo the effect.

EDIT: If you don't want to affect the shadow and sharpness of the image use blending modes: Soft Light or Hard Light on the blurred layer.
(Thanks for the tip Roland!)


Before and After

And that's it! Just a few steps can add impact to your photos. Thanks to Melissa for suggesting a Photoshop tutorial. I hope you enjoy it!




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New Video Tutorial - Day & Night

Happy New Year everyone! For the past two months, I have been working on my first pro video course Day & Night. In the tutorial, you will learn how to capture, create, edit and produce ideas for fine art photography and manipulations. It will be fast-paced, straight to the point learning experience. 

This year it will be my 10-year anniversary in photography, and I'm happy to announce I will be posting three different pro video courses in 2018. In these tutorials, I show you all of my techniques and knowledge I have gathered in the ten years I have been photographing.