Ami Vitale & 7 Tips for Finding Great Story Ideas

The first time I learned about Ami Vitale was when I did a quick search of Nikkor Lenses on YouTube and she appeared within the search results. As someone who’s obsessed with travels shows like No Reservations and who’s quickly developed an immense inquisitiveness for documentary photography, I was unquestionably attracted to every single one of her words.

She’s is an american photojournalist who’s best known for off the radar stories. Stories that are not necessarily covered in the news but where she feels that something needs to be said about it. Her work has been featured on numerous publications such as Time, Newsweek, US News & World Report and National Geographic Magazine to name a few.

Ami recently participated on a series of audio interviews with other photographers and on the topic of inspiration, she shared 7 Tips for Finding Great Story Ideas that I felt were crucial to mention because coincidently, I happen to do most of them already:

  1. Read voraciously - I may not read as many books as I would like but I compensate and rely heavily on learning so much about technique and approach from several blogs.
  2. Talk to different types of people to get different perspectives on the same topic - I work in retail so sparking random conversation with people is second nature. Expressing interest in a culture other than your own is one heck of a conversation starter.
  3. Localize and humanize a bigger issue - At work we have a large Middle Eastern clientele and I think I’ve surprised a few when I’m always interested not just making a sale but in getting to know more about them and their country.
  4. Think visually about an idea. Not all ideas work visually - Up to this point, the idea for most of my photo essays have originated at work where I’m as far away from my camera and the computer.
  5. Write a lot. Put ideas on paper - I refer to my site as a photoblog but I’ve received emails about how some readers see it as more than that because I place as much consideration into my writing as my photography.
  6. Be an observer of life - If you’re a photographer, you can’t help not be one.
  7. Trust your own instincts: This advice is currently a work in progress for me because I tend to second guess myself with my photography which isn’t too good because it absolutely screws with your confidence.