A few weeks ago I was working on one of my old photographs and I was trying some new stuff. I had just seen an amazing black and white gallery and was trying to add some duotone to my portraits to add even more drama (since my photos don’t have enough drama as it is). Anyway, I spent hours reworking this photo and trying to get something new and different. And I did! Or at least so I thought. I posted the photo up on my multiply hoping to see what others thought and hopefully add something new to my workflow. Well before long, I got a comment that said something like “This is an amazing photo! This looks exactly like a (name withheld) photo.” To most, I think they would take this as a huge compliment but to me it was just a huge disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure by now you all know how much I love his works work and how he’s been a huge inspiration in my photography. But, that doesn’t mean I want to create photos just like him. I want to use the tools I see in his works, combine them with a bunch of other tools and finally finish it off with my own creativity and personality. No matter what you say, there is no way that another like him and I are the same and therefore it’s fine for me to want to create images just like him. I think this should be a lesson for everybody. There is no point to want to be the next Ash Castro or MJ Cachero. There is simply no room for another ash castro, ian felix alquiros or another MJ cachero. But, there is room for a (insert your name here)”.
The industry may be completely over-saturated with photographers (how many times have you heard that before?) but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for one more person who creatively approaches the photography world with a fresh new outlook. The challenge is trying to be independent and different than everyone else but stay true to yourself. I think it’s a challenge that all creatives face but it’s just something that you have to work through.
Last week, I was talking to a friend about refining your creativity and really becoming a master of your photograph. Everybody has their own style. Some like wide angle lenses, some telephoto, some black and white and some super saturated with color. No matter what, you have your style (you just may not know it). The truly amazing thing is when you take a photo and do certain specific things in an image for a purpose. This is where your creativity really becomes a killer asset.
Step one is really knowing that you have to break your subject down into parts.
Step two is making those actions completely deliberate. Each part of our subject has to be lit in a way that caters to your creativity and thus go together in one cohesive piece in the end. This all goes back to the idea of not just shooting a photo to shoot a photo but shooting a photo and having a reason for it. It’s all about your vision and your creativity.
So, I encourage all of you to not try to be like any other photographer but to be true to yourself and your creativity. Yes, it’s completely fine to take inspiration from other photographers but that doesn’t mean you copy their images down I combined what I learned at the workshop with my workflow that I was already using in hopes of creating something different. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve refined my “look” yet but I’m not sure if we ever do. It’s all about having the most tools possible and being able to call on them when you need them. But, the most important tool that you have is your creativity. So use it! Don’t be a slave to your camera or computer and don’t do something because your camera or computer says it’s good. Be deliberate with your actions! Make sure there is a purpose for each decision you make as a creative.
I feel that everything we do is a compilation of everything that we have learned. This blog post in fact is a composite of prior knowledge, we use the same past knowledge and current experiences to contribute to are artwork. I hope this challenges you to find your own vision and avoid trying to be like someone else. There’s only one you in this world for a reason. Make sure you never forget that!