5 Photographers Who Inspired Me in 2016

My work isn’t really my own. Sure, I’m in there and I put my heart into what I create but what’s in my heart is a swirling mix of everything and everyone that inspires me. As much as I might want to take credit for the work I’m most excited about, I owe a huge thank you to the artists who have kept me inspired and who have slowly,and without knowing, steered my body of work into something I’m proud of. We all find inspiration some where and I wanted to use my End of the Year post to thank the 5 photographers who have inspired me the most in 2016. So to you 5, thank you. I’m in your debt. To everyone else, I hope you find as much inspiration in these artists as I have.



Ryan has probably been the biggest influence on my work this year. I spent 2015 feeling pretty down about what I was creating and desperately grasping at anything I could to pull myself out of a rut. Through what I saw in Ryan’s work, I found what I was missing in my own: Heart. It wasn’t anything visual that I was unhappy with, it was that intangible thing that puts humanity into an image. Ryan’s images are full of heart. His heart, and his subjects. The fact that I can see so much of who he is through what he creates strikes me and has led to me putting more of myself into my own work. I’ve been creating with more intention than I ever have and my creative process has evolved into something more fulfilling than it’s ever been. Ryan, I’m proud to call you a friend. Thank you.


Ryan Muirhead // Ben Sasso // 2016 InspirationsRyan Muirhead // Ben Sasso // 2016 InspirationsRyan Muirhead // Ben Sasso // 2016 Inspirations



If light was a person, it would hire Nirav to shoot it’s portraits. If you know anything about my work, you know much much I love shooting in soft, even light. You’ve probably also noticed me branching out of that a little this year and Nirav is the reason why. His use of light in a frame is simple and brilliant. There’s no other way to put it. It’s inspired me to step outside of the light I’ve always loved and to pursue more creativity in the way I use light. It’s arguably the most important tool we have (we’re literally capturing it in every image we take) and Nirav’s work has challenged me to take advantage of it more than I have in the past. Also, if you’re looking to support good people, Nirav is as good as they come.


Nirav Patel // Ben Sasso // 2016 InspirationsNirav Patel // Ben Sasso // 2016 InspirationsNirav Patel // Ben Sasso // 2016 Inspirations



I can’t really express in words what I feel when I see a strong, unique portrait so whenever I see one of Elizaveta’s portraits, it usually comes out something like this: “UGH. Seriously? How?” I know, it’s not very poetic but it’s as close as I can get. What’s struck me about her work is the depth of her creativity in portraits. Every image of hers could have been shot one way (the way everyone else would shoot it), but it’s not. It’s taken a little bit farther into something that is so unique to her creative style. I love it. I’m jealous of it. I’m blown away by it.


Elizaveta Porodina // Ben Sasso // 2016 InspirationsElizaveta Porodina // Ben Sasso // 2016 InspirationsElizaveta Porodina // Ben Sasso // 2016 Inspirations



You probably already know by now that minimalism is my happy place but as much as I love simplicity, it often takes the place of intrigue in an image because having both isn’t easy. That’s what Elliot does so well. His images are minimal, but still hold that question that draws in the viewer as they try to learn more. It’s something I (admittedly) feel is lacking in my work and I’ll be pushing hard in 2017 to present more questions in the images I put out.


Elliot Lee Hazel // Ben Sasso // 2016 InspirationsElliot Lee Hazel // Ben Sasso // 2016 InspirationsElliot Lee Hazel // Ben Sasso // 2016 Inspirations



I know you were expecting 5 photographers here instead of 4 photographers and a band, but any post about who inspires me would be incomplete without a nod to mewithoutYou. They have been a consistent inspiration for more than 10 years now and they’ve shaped the way I think more than just any other artist I’ve come across. I’m a sucker for discovery in art. The longer that a piece of art can hold interest is a testament to how much the artist left in a piece for someone to discover. The lyrics that Aaron Weiss weaves together are riddled with opportunity for discovery and it’s pushed me to create work that holds interest instead of work that’s glanced over and tossed aside. I’ve put together a little starter playlist with some of my favorites for those of you who are looking to dive in. The more you listen, the more you might find nods to them in my work.




Well there it is folks! I want to wholeheartedly thank all of these artists (and all of the others not listed) who have played such a heavy role in the way I create. We aren’t islands and I don’t think we should strive to be. Create work that inspires you and show gratitude to those who have helped you find that inspiration. Be good to each other. Happy 2017!


When you find work that inspires you, look at it critically. Don't settle for accepting it at face value. Instead, break it down into a collection of what makes the image work as a whole. Recognize each aspect (mood, wardrobe, lighting, processing, location, posing, emotion, etc.) and figure out exactly which one it is that sticks in your heart. The more you do this, the easier you might find what might be missing in your own work. Boom!
  1. Reply

    So much inspiration and so much trUth! Yes yes yes.

  2. Reply

    hi Ben, it’s elena here from bilbao! be sure one day u will be among the list of my inspirational photographers too.. 🙂

  3. Reply

    I learned a lot this yeaR, which was my first in business. I stumbled acRoss your facebook page and I have to tell you that you inspire me to do better. Thank you!

  4. Reply

    OMG i love MeWITHOUTYOu they are my fav band. I still remebeR EXACTLY what I was doing the first time i heard them. Oh the power of music.

  5. Reply

    thank you for the inspiration

  6. Reply

    Great article ben! As you are such an inspiration to so many people it is great to find out who inspires you!

  7. Reply

    pure inspiration – including you! And I just love your playlist!

  8. Reply

    I would add you and Katch as my two findings in 2016 for inspirations. Will check out these phtogographers too now as i like what i see.

  9. Reply

    I would add you and Katch as my two findings in 2016 for inspiration. Will check out these photographers too now as i like what i see.

  10. Reply

    Cool. Thank you so much for sharing 😉

  11. Reply

    Amazing photographers. I can see why you take inspiration from them. Thank you for sharing and inspiring all of us.

  12. Reply

    Love this post. Nirav’s work is incredible. Thansk for sharing.

  13. Reply

    Great choice! I’ve known only ryan!

  14. Reply

    Thank so Much for the inspiration Ben!

  15. Reply

    Epic inspiration. Great read dude!

  16. Reply

    Great inspiraton!

  17. Reply

    So grteful FORyour thoughtful sharing process, you are truly inspiring

  18. Reply

    Thanks a lot for sharing those photographer with us. And thanks for introducing me to mewithoutyou 🙂

  19. Reply

    This is amazing! thank you for sharing!!

  20. Reply

    fantastic post and love that tip at the end 🙂

  21. Reply

    Such an interesting post! I reallylike your last advice, to look at the pictures critIcally, so we can find what is missing in Ours. And thanks for making me discover elliot lee hazel!

  22. Reply

    Thank you for all your words, I appreciate the time you take to explain theses things, I have been inspired bymany artist but few months ago I FIGURE OUT THAT WAS IMPORTANT CONSCIOUS AND ALWAYS BE HUNGRY ABOUT TO REACH SOMETHING THAT FULL ME, THANK U.

  23. Reply

    Oh, the light. the light is what i am drawn to above anything else. thank you for sharing this – nirav especially. im pretty pleased ive stumbled across your work, too.

  24. Reply

    Hi Ben – I love this list of photographers. I ended up following everyone of them on instagram because they’re as good as you say. I really love your work too.


  25. Reply

    Seeing Ben Sasso’s work and now being INTRODUCED to these 4 other composers of art and beauty…. I feel like I am in KINDERGARTEN again.
    I feel the need to reinvent once again.
    Thank You Ben

  26. Reply

    Thank you for opening the door to my CREATIVITY and inspiration inside my heart.
    Another photographer, that I have a feeling you’d like is Noell S. Oszvald. I love her b&w photos! the shadows and the light, the simplicity but still so powerful work and her artistic way to see things.
    … and i should also add, that you belong to one of the few PHOTOGRAPHERS, that truly inspires me.
    love / Sussie

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