A black and white photograph of a ball stuck in a tree. The sun is directly behind the ball, making it glow and making the tree a black silhouette. In the bottom left, the silhouette of a house is visible.

Make your own inspiration with your creative practice

What is inspiration? Where does it come from? How do you create your own inspiration? In this issue: Inspiration and your creative practice There have been times when I’ve found myself creatively blocked. I’ve been unsure how to proceed in my work, or I’ve been unable to will myself to action. I’m just… stuck. This feeling goes by other names: “writer’s block”; “burnout”; “procrastination”; and the more flowery, “my creative well hath run dry”. In these moments of hopelessness, even more terrible monsters can rear their ugly heads: imposter syndrome and low self-esteem, among others. I might question, “what business … >>

A black and white photograph of a white, triangular building. In front of the building, a dark, leafless tree contrasts with the light toned facade.

Know your why: 14 powerful art making motivators

The “why’s” of art making, and what keeps us going. It’s almost assuredly incorrect to say that apocryphally-apple-loving Sir Isaac Newton was talking about art making and other creative endeavors when he created his Laws of Motion. Since he was a mathematician, physicist, astronomer and all that, evidence suggests his interests leaned towards the hard sciences. After all, Newton helped kick off the Scientific Revolution–he was very much a S.T.E.M. guy. Art making? Probably not so much. Regardless, good ole Sir Issac gets us started today. Newton’s Law of (art making) Motion Newton’s first Law of Motion has two parts: … >>

A black and white photograph of a mostly empty desert landscape. The photo uses extremely shallow depth of field.

Project vs. projects, an upcoming change, advice for starting

Your Sundays are about to get more interesting. This is the sixth issue of Viewfinder. It’s been a pleasure and honor to talk about art making, creativity, and photography with you. A special warm WELCOME to new subscribers: Amie, Asha (who writes Parent of Adults), Daniel, Erika (who writes The Windfall Dispatch), and Jacques. And a huge THANK YOU to all subscribers, old and new, for reading and being a part of this community. In this issue: A (small) change is a comin’ In the next issue, you’ll see a change of format that will expand what Viewfinder brings to … >>

Color photograph of a painted mural with the word "Love" in the center.

Gratitude and joy: Everything* I love about making art

(*an incomplete list, 2023 edition) Previously, we talked extensively about the “work” of artwork. We talked about “finding your work” and “putting in the work”. Showing up, making art again and again, maybe for the rest of your life. This all sounds like so much… work. Isn’t life already filled up with work? Why would you want more of it? Because there’s work, and then there’s your ✨WORK! ✨. Workohol addiction The Oxford dictionary defines work (noun), among other things as, “… something a person… has to do.” Yep, pretty much how I feel about it too. Thanks, editors at … >>

Image with the text "The Greatest Camera in the World" superimposed over a photograph of several camera arranged on a white background.

Revealed: the greatest camera in the world

Film or digital? Small, medium, or large format? Leica? Hasselblad? Canon? Nikon? Discover the definitive answer, once and for all. Photographers are a weird bunch–they can be strangely tribal about the tools they use. Having worked at multiple camera stores in my early life, I’ve been privy to numerous, completely unnecessary arguments about Canon vs. Nikon, or Kodak film vs. Fuji Film. I never really understood the motivations behind these arguments, as I wanted to own all the cameras and to use all the types of film. Maybe because photography is expensive, people want to feel good about their choices? … >>

Black and white photograph of a field at sunset. In the midground, a thicket on the left balances a stand of trees on the right. Fog is just beginning to appear.

Overcoming inertia: how to kickstart your art making practice

Everything starts somewhere. Here’s a few starts to consider. It’s been often said that starting is the hardest thing. Overcoming inertia, getting the ball rolling, making the first mark–this can be hard. Isn’t not-doing something so much easier than doing it? You can always do it tomorrow, after all. Not doing means you don’t have to think, you don’t have to commit, you don’t have to expend energy. I’m not sure it’s always true. To paraphrase a statement attributed to Mark Twain, “Starting is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Of … >>

A mocked up photograph of an issue of Viewfinder by StartPhoto magazine sitting on a table. Next to the book is a glass with flowers, a cup of tea, and a camera.

🚀 It’s the start of something new.

Introducing Viewfinder by StartPhoto, an email newsletter about art making, photography, and reigniting creativity. Hi, I’m Ron ‘RonJohn’ Johnson, the creator of StartPhoto. I’m writing this newsletter/blog/podcast (whatever it ends up being) for you. And to be honest, I’m making it for myself, too, because I have needed, at one point or another, all the things I plan to share with you. I’m still figuring out Viewfinder as I go. To use a phrase that comes up a lot in my life, “I’m flying the plane while still building it”. Viewfinder might end up being highly personal, but hopefully not … >>