Keep a reference file.
In my Lightroom catalog, I keep a folder in my collections called “REFERENCE.” It’s a folder of images I’ve shot that I think could be further improved or turned into a new project. Most importantly, these are my photos. I shot them. They are my ideas.
This is completely different from looking on Pinterest or searching on Google for references from other photographers. Your reference folder is made up of images you created yourself. This provides a confidence and inspiration boost because you know you can come up with original ideas without having to look at what everybody else is doing all the time.
Instead, you can look in.
References photos are often the mistakes or throwaways. These photos are the ones where someone accidentally walked into the frame, where the lighting was off, or where the image was slightly off focus. Usually, happy accidents are the birthplaces for new ideas and projects.
So, the next time you look back on your images, instead of throwing these accidents into the trash, store them in your reference folder instead. Think of it like creating a compost pile. At first glance, your “bad photos” may seem like garbage but when put together, it could be fertile ground for greater work to emerge.
by Jason Lam