Looking at other people's photos is a great way to learn and be inspired. The problem is that browsing through photos on places like Flickr or photophlow takes time away from doing other things. So here's a solution that will keep you inspired while not totally interfering with your productivity while you're on the computer.
First, get yourself the Google Desktop as part of the free Google Pack download by visiting the referral link below (hey, it helps pay for your birthday presents). This handy little piece of software runs in the background and it allows you to add all sorts of fun little gadgets to it.
Once you get the software loaded, pull up the Google Desktop as a sidebar. Of course this takes up some extra space, but it's awfully handy (and it's no big deal if you're sporting a widescreen monitor). Two of the inspirational gadgets I use are the “Flickr Interesting Photos” and the “Flickr Desktop“. These two gadgets keep a constant flow of inspiration coming at me.
The first gadget mentioned (Flickr Interesting Photos) shows… interesting photos… from Flickr. It's pretty self explanatory. These are usually photos from Flickr Explore, and they're pretty darn good.
The second gadged mentioned (Flickr Desktop) does pretty much the same thing, but you can tell it what to show you by specifying which tags look for on photos. I really like this one because I can tailor it to my needs as they constantly change. For example, I set it to show “portrait” prior to and during the December Challenge. I've had it set to “Street Photography” for all of January so far. And as the February Challenge approaches, I'll set it to look for whichever color I happen to be working on for the week.
With both of these gadgets, you can double click on the photo shown and it opens up the Flickr page for that photo in your browser so you can check it out and comment on it if you'd like. You can also change the interval timers of the gadgets and resize them to suit your needs.
All in all, these things are really handy to keep you thinking about photography while you're plugging away on your computer. So try it out! Let me know what you think! And if you find any other great gadgets, let me know!