Curating Inspirational Photos with ZooTool

With the effort to continue to improve on my portraiture work, I figured it's only natural to turn towards images that inspire me from every photographic standpoint imaginable. From how it was taken, its location, the perspetive employed, the direction in which the subject's eye contact was, the lighting conditions, their composition and even the depth of field used.

There's a lot of experimentation involved but above everything else, I think one should at least already have a vision for how one wants their photography to look like while understanding on how much of all of these elements can constitute towards a strong portrait.

Studying these components is a lot like having the desire to improve on your writing. You have to read what you like in order to feel motivated to produce more of your own. The problem I was having prior to what I have setup now was that it was becoming too much of a hassle to take screenshot after screenshot of every portrait I liked and saving it to a Dropbox folder that I referenced sporadically on the iPhone.

Photograph of ZooTool iPhone app in action

I received a few suggestions on Twitter as to what service best suited for the type of seamless workflow I wanted and that didn’t require much manual work. To make a long story short, I went with Zootool which is essentially a visual bookmarking service to organize your favorite images.

The account has been set to private which means every photograph I’ve liked is only viewed by me. I’m not against sharing my findings but it wouldn’t be right doing it unless every photograph was given proper credit to the owner and the only way to achieve this is to do it manually. I don’t have the time to manage the additional work and so the only way to avoid it is to keep what I saved to myself.

95% of the portrait work that’s spoken to me and I’ve saved has emerged from Flickr. Favoring photographs on Flickr is another route for curating good work but how often will you go back and reference those when you need them? I certainly didn’t. The Zootool bookmarklet to save images that I can instantly view on the Zootool iPhone app has been incredible. If you’ve been searching for something along the same lines, I highly recommend the service if you wish to begin curating photos that you hope to reference because they inspire you or you just wish to extract ideas from.

In general, we never know when something will come along and inspire us regardless of the type of photography you shoot but I think it’s important and maybe even more stimulating to look outside your own circle to learn and become more proficient by seeing more.