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/politican 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 privelege. 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 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.