My biggest inspiration to become an artist and activist has been my father. I always loved his work as a musician and we would talk about politics when I was a teen, we still continue to talk about politics to this day. Photography was always present when I was growing up, one of my grandfathers and two of my uncles had fancy semi-pro cameras and would document family life. I got my first camera from my uncle Helmut and auntie Ilse when I was a teenager and I had great fun with it, it was still the film era so I had to be more picky about what I would photograph not being able to buy and develop film at will. I got my first digital from my stepdad, it was one of those floppy-disk based sonys, that’s when I started shooting a lot, something I really love about digital. When I was a young adult I raided as many photo albums as I could from my family and scanned everything, it was so rewarding to have pictures from the past available on my computer, I wanted to provide some of that to myself and others. A pivotal moment in my hobby photography phase (professionally I wanted to be a lawyer/politician before I got diagnosed with schizophrenia) was when I got a chance to take a picture of the Emperor of Japan when he was visiting Vienna, he posed for the camera armed crowd and I got a shot that I am happy I got the chance to take, but it was a point and click digital with no zoom so later on I would bemoan that I couldn’t get a close up with a better camera, but oh well, still quite the privilege. When Flickr became available I started to want to go pro and started posting my shots I had been collecting privately until then. I really enjoyed photoshop, it was a good way at first to compensate for shots that were early and less refined and make them more interesting, I personally don’t think high photomanipulation makes a photograph less of a photograph, just likes special effects don’t make a movie less of a movie. And my picture of Akihito I have posted is severely photoshopped. My friend Christopher Munroe inspired me to pursue writing more seriously when I started reading his flash fiction he posted on his blog, I couldn’t get enough, it was so easy to read and was often very amusing. I had been blogging thought-streams off and on until then. I have never really taken much inspiration from the greats until I started recently taking online photography courses, and one of the instructors (Joel Sartore), a national geographic photographer, started talking about iconic and interesting shots, I obviously already had a concept of this since my most prized shot was of Emperor Akihito, but he really reinforced that professional concept of showing the people what they want, and now I am even more on the lookout for opportunities to take shots like that to buff my portfolio. I do have muses, and they have been the women I have been in relationships with, when I am in a relationship with a woman I am more creatively active and inspired to seek recognition. My mother and sister inspire me to take good care of myself and not be hard on myself.
All in all, I find living in an environment full of creative people has been a great experience.
Edit: Also my mom introduced me to Star Trek. My mother showed me how to work hard and both my sister and mother encourage me to be myself.
Sorry if you aren’t on the list, I am sure you inspired me too.