Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Nikon Fan, May 21, 2005.
We are bombarded by images from all over so they are bound to influence what we do.
It is natural when starting in Photography (or any creative activity) to find someone you think is the top banana and want to be like them. It is also human nature to be influenced by what you perceive as what is acceptable or the norm. So if you are interested in a particular subject and it is a hobby then you read your favourite mags to do with your hobby and then you start taking pictures of your hobby and you try to make the pictures look like the ones in your magazines.
There is nothing wrong with this and to some people that is all there is to Photography.
Some people move on, though.
I once had a student tell me that he never looked at other peoples pictures because he didn't want to be influenced. I thought it was one of the stupidest things I had ever heard. If you don't look at other pictures you don't find out what is possible and what has already been done. You also lose out on the possibility of seeing something in a picture that triggers a train of thought or an idea.
The step up in your development happens when you realise that a photographer you admire is influenced by (or is even copying) another photographer - who in turn copied.....
This means that you are being influenced by photographers and images that you were not even remotely aware of. See things in their true perspective.
Unless you are born blind, you are influenced by everything you see.
I say, look at everything, you never know where an idea is going to come from. I feel there is a difference between being influenced by someone and copying someone. It just takes time.
Funny, I just spent the day at Greenfield Village. I was taking lots of pictures and I saw these fence posts. They had a criss cross shape going down the fence line. I grabbed the camera and then realized how many times I've seen this shot. After thinking whether I could create a new image of this, I ended up putting the camera back down. I just couldn't see a new way of making that shot. I'd like to think I didn't give up, but I just passed on it, and started looking somewhere else.
We can never make a photo wholly our own. There are far too many influences on us our whole lives that shape our thoughts, our ideas, our aspirations and our inspirations. Everything rests upon everything else and needs it for support. Your first move, then, is to embrace this fact and acknowledge it. Try to identify your influences.
Then you have to start being critical - question everything, but especially question yourself.
What am I hoping to achieve?
Why do I want to take a picture of that?
What is it about it that 'speaks' to me?
How can I convey that to someone else?
And so on.
You don't have to put it in words, just be able to focus on it.
Then you work on it and around it.
At the same time you need to look at as many pictures by as many different people as you can - and make the technical aspects second nature so the camera doesn't get in the way of the pictures.
This process not only takes years but can take a whole lifetime.
You also have to accept that there is a hierachy of creativity. Some people just have it in themselves to eventually break free of the forrest and explore new territory. Some people can see the promised land but can never quite get there - and the vast majority are happy to wander around in the wood experiencing the trees.
If this wasn't the case then we would all be great Artists - and so none of us would be.
But if you don't aim for the stars you won't ever get anywhere and so never find out where your place is.
As an illustration: I always wanted to be a great artist along the lines of Turner or Monet. Eventually it dawned on me that I just wasn't up to the task. But I didn't give up - just tried to be the best I could with what I had. Then one day I woke up and discovered I was a Duchamp with a camera.
Life's funny like that.
(If you don't understand my Art references then check them out - and you might just discover why I chose my avatar and what it means :mrgreen: )
No one lives in a vacuum. Studying the masters is important. Just because you view someone's work does not mean that you will copy it. More than likely the masters will have an influence on your work. As opposed to copying them. Studying and more importantly producing art is a never ending journey; embrace it! I also consider all mediums; textile, stone, glass, whatever. I like to consider it more of an inspiration as opposed to influence.
Human nature dictates we all, at sometime in our lives, copy. Infants copy their parents or siblings so they can grow in to adulthood.
I look at some of the works of others and think "Can I do That?" ... this isn't copying per say, it's attempting to achive a higher goal.
Since joining this forum I have seen the chances to take photos at diffrent times .. not just the holidays or the weekends or even of the kids, you have all inspired me. I've looked at photos by LaFoto and JonMikal and some of the others and thought WOW I gotta strive to be that good....... after all the sinceriest form of flattery is imitation is it not ?
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