10 Places to Find Inspiration (And Feed Your Creative Mojo)

I've been in a less inspired mood lately…a sort of creative block almost. I know it's normal and it happens to every creative brain out there, but it's still extremely frustrating. It happened to me before, it will happen again, the thing is to work through it… And I'll tell you a few of the things I do, or the websites I visit to stay inspired and to jumpstart the creative side of my brain when I'm in such a block. 

1. Pinterest - Good old Pinterest…I've spent so much time on it that it's almost a classic. I love it, it's great for ideas and inspiration and for putting together mood boards and styles for photoshoots. I didn't really focus my social media activities on Pinterest, but it's great for that too. Oh yeah, and tutorials too…I sometimes use it alternatively with Google. 

2. Creative Live - Well, you see, one of the ways I stay inspired is through learning new things and doing tutorials. Creative Live is a website that offers online classes and workshops for aspiring creatives. They have two ways in which you can watch the classes: Live streaming, for free, on demand access, for a price. And they really have cool classes too, but they are long, full day workshops. But what I do if I find a class that I'm interested in, I let it play in the background while I do other things such as editing or preparing my gear for a photoshoot or cleaning my studio. 

3. Behance - Behance is a social platform for showcasing creative portfolios. There's a lot of sites like that for photographers, like 500px, Flickr, etc., but Behance is a community for all types of creatives, from photographers, to graphic designers, retouchers etc. I love it because I love visual creativity. I love graphic design, I love fonts, I love photo manipulation and retouching, and of course, I love photography, but I like to get inspired from other creative forms. I didn't spend much time on Behance lately, but it's been one of my inspiration sites for a while.

4. YouTube - On the same idea as with Creative Live, my content consumption on YouTube generally revolves around tutorials, talks, lectures, inspirational stuff that people like to talk about. Before Creative Live (oh ya, and Lynda for a brief moment), I used to listen to YouTube tutorials and inspirational stuff all the time. I still do. If you run into me doing groceries and listen to what's playing in my headphones, you'll probably hear some Gary Vaynerchuk keynote or some Ted Talk. I also do a lot of tutorials…go YouTube University. 

5. Magazines - I have a subscription to Next Issue, and I like to browse magazines mainly to look at photos, keep up with visual content trends and get inspired. I have the app on my iPad and it's a cool way to stay inspired while in transit or travelling. There's also this other magazine I've been buying: Renegade Collective. It's a lifestyle magazine from Australia, and its content is a mix of inspirational stories, business advice and creative tips. I always keep a few copies on my coffee table. 

6. Networking - One of the advantages about being a freelancer is that you get to work from home, but it can be quite isolating. For some people it might not be that much of a problem, but for me (an extrovert and a social butterfly) it really is. I need social interaction with like minded people to stay inspired and motivated. That's why I've been going to networking events, such as Creative Mornings or the Instameet etc. It's cool, I got to meet really interesting people in the process, listened to great inspirational talks, even got a free Zipline ride at Instameet. Waddya know? Networking can really be fun. Where I find a lot of these events? Word of mouth, or Facebook. 

7. Instagram and Facebook - You know, you follow other creatives, you see cool stuff they share…but it's a tricky thing, endless pit. I start off reading a post from Von Wong and two hours later i'm on the cat side of the Internet. You know how it is.  

8.  BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) - Yes, the library. It's a vast free resource of great content. When I first started discovering photography I used to spend hours in their photography section.  

9. Creative Market - Graphic design content. Cool freebies too. 

10. Last but absolutely not least:

life around me… 


One of the reasons why I decided to start blogging is because I am an avid storyteller and I love to write, and I would love to share my story with the world. And since I'm rather new to the blogosphere, I feel I need to introduce myself, so the first story that I will be telling is mine:

Hi, i'm Tora: photographer, daydreamer and committed overachiever, and I live in this crazy, beautiful mess of a city we call Montreal. Romanian of origin, I moved to Canada 8 years ago, armed with big dreams and hungry to do something with my life. I started business school right away, finished it and worked in the corporate world until not long ago. 

The photography bug creeped up on me over the years, slowly, taking its time, first through Photoshop, and just having fun seeing what my camera can do, until one day i was asked to take photos at this festival in Romania. That was it. My Evrika! moment. I was also in a soul searching moment of my life. I decided to try the creative path, so I applied to Dawson College's night program in commercial photography. And that's how i found myself in complete workaholic mode, with a full time job and full time school, and a very active social life on top of that. I wanted it all and I just had an ambition that was more of a constant adrenaline rush, and I sacrificed sleep (a lot), but I made it all possible (I wouldn't recommend it though, I was burned out in the end). But then photo school was over, and I found myself at a crossroads....

Tora Chirila Photography - Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

It took me a while to make the decision, but deep down I always knew what I needed to do. I was working in the corporate world, classic 9-5 career story, good job, good pay, amazing office with an insane view of downtown Montreal.  But something was definitely missing. And the though that pretty much this will be the rest of my life was far more terrifying than jumping into the uncertainty of being a creative professional. So...I jumped...The day I handed in my resignation letter I had the same adrenaline rush as when I was way up high on a crane above Bucharest getting ready for a bungee jump.

And it took me a while to get accustomed to the change. My first post 9 to 5 days found me as an anxious mess, completely overwhelmed by the decision i had taken, and by insecurities. But truth is, my reaction wasn't to the change in circumstances, but to my change in identity. All my life I used to see myself as the office chick, corporate woman, with my ambitions to work hard and climb up the corporate ladder over the years and with my overstacked wardrobe of office outfits. I was Teodora; that's my legal name, and in the corporate world that was my name and identity. I'm Tora (my parents called me/nicknamed me Tora since I was born, all my family and friends know me as Tora) and I'm a photographer and freelancer; a whole new approach to life. It's hard, it's amazing, it's never ending work, but it's not really work, is it? And I am just at the beginning of my journey, hopeful, nervous, but really really determined.

There is no time more scary exciting than this....

To be continued...just hold on tight.


I've been struggling lately with my passion for content creation and that need that I have to have a passion project, and this passion project to be this blog. I kept this blog on my website in a dormant stage so far, but on the back end of it i've been writing blog posts and drafts of blog posts, and not publishing them. I was writing for myself, but with a desire to eventually show/publish my ideas, but just dragging things along, thinking that what's the point in publishing if I'm only going to have a handful of people reading, and you know, all those fears and doubts of a creative mind. But then, I found this article from AdWeek yesterday...

It's true, in its essence the article is all about the ad industry and has nothing to do with my struggle right now. But it made me think...think about my "why". Why am I doing what I do? Why do I create? Why do I do photography? Why do I want to have this blog? 

Well, it all started when I was 16-17 and I was an intern at this advertising agency in Romania. I was old enough to be responsible, but young enough to still have kept my childhood spirit and fearlessness. Even though I was doing the most meaningless tasks there, I remember I would always end up with the creative department and I was learning all about logo design. But what I remember that I loved so much (and I guess scarred me in my perception of work) was how much fun everyone was having. Don't get me wrong. It was hard work, deadlines, long hours, some machine would fail the last minute, problems and all that. But I remembered how much fun everyone had. I remember they were all like family, and they were all united by...ok, there's the paycheck...but I always felt it was something more than the money. For me for sure it was. I was an intern so I was paid pennies. The first summer I got sent to work there by my parents, the second summer I couldn't wait to go back.

And then I grew up. And I decided to be responsible and follow a safe path, and do accounting. That didn't work out as planned, clearly. I always kept searching for that passion that I felt back then. And I found it at one point in a passion project that I had with a few people, an online electronic music radio. But then I lost that in a...hostile takeover, let's call it like that. And then I re-found that passion in photography. But the thing with photography is that it's a sort of...just mine. Yes, it's fulfilling when my clients or others like my photos, but it's just for me. That's why I wanted to have a blog, through which I can, in some form or another, spread that virus that I got when I was 16...that inspiration, that desire to do something that makes you feel fulfilled. 

And this other article I read yesterday made me understand that maybe I'm not wrong and naive. We still have that mentality of work being work, a struggle, you work for the money, punch out at 5 and then you can some groceries, prepare your lunch for the next day, and other chores, and then you get left a good hour and a half to live for yourself (i.e. fall asleep watching a movie). It's true, we live in a monetary system, we need the cash to survive, and we need to work for that cash, but maybe there is another definition for work. Maybe there's a something more to it, a deeper motivation. And not maybe, there always is. But we're taught to become doctors and lawyers and business executives, and to all live in little boxes and to be all just the same (as the song goes)...I'm being a bit ironic here, but I'm living my own struggle with life as I am making my way off the old beaten track in the search for fulfilment. 

And I am just one of many, and even many more are there in their cubicles dreaming of something different. And I am no special case. I have no super powers, I am just a dreamer and a believer, and I was inspired by other stories and I dared. So I hope to inspire others in my turn, and motivate in some form or another. And I'm not hoping to make a dent in the universe, just be one of the many voices, and the voices of many are louder. The world is already slowly starting to change, with many people quitting unfulfilling jobs to open startups, or to follow a calling. And maybe my story is not extraordinary enough, but i'm surely fascinated by amazing life stories, other people's stories, so I will share those as well. I want to make this blog an inspiration corner, about life, about creativity, about the life of a freelancer, and much more. And I hope to have like-minded people stop by, maybe make some new friends in the process...

Welcome to my Inspiration corner!