I used to come across people on a regular basis on tours who wanted to take the best photo of this thing or that thing. (Enter the pandemic and tours have all but ceased.) Often it’s to take a photo of something that’s been photographed to death. In other words, not very original.
Often it’s of a landmark that you can buy a postcard of for a dollar. Why bother? That’s my feeling about it. Many years ago, I gave up trying to compete with photographers who get paid large sums of money to shoot photos that are used in glossy magazine spreads.
It’s like trying to compare apples and oranges. They’re both fruit as photos are still photos. But the similarity ends there. It’s great to see your photos in public! Yes, I still have 9 photos covering the windows of a vacant commercial space on Madison Avenue.
But they are my photos. They existed before and were not commissioned or made to appeal to the client. So much photography that we see in public everyday is designed for a very specific purpose. Typically to get us to part with our money!
My style of photography is to make a photo my own. That is to say to have it reflect the way that I see the world. It’s taken me years to figure that out! And to allow myself to draw outside the lines which is actually my natural style. And the unexpected bonus is that others appreciate it.
It is of course a common method when you first start shooting to imitate photos that you like. It’s really no different than learning to play a favorite song on guitar and wanting to play it “perfectly.“
But at some point it’s time to leave the imitation behind and find your own style. I am not interested in being a cover band. My goal is to create that which makes my work unique, including its flaws.
If I’m able to create photos in my own style, why would I even want to copy others or even take photos at all? So what does originality have to do with it?
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