Then consider me well flattered. I have been writing this post in my head now for a few months and have gone back and forth on publishing it. I feel strongly about it tho and feel that it needs to be addressed.
I am a photographer, we all know this, but what does it really mean? What all does that encompass? Does it simply mean I have a camera that I like to use? Was there a definite moment when I crossed over from “taking photos” to being an artist? And when that cross over happened, what responsibilities did I gain?
Digital cameras have become the rage. Over the last few years the price of a starter level slr has drasticly dropped. The web has been infiltrated with new and upcoming talent and many moms who love to take photos of their own kids. (myself included) The economy has taken a turn and everyone is trying to save a buck wherever possible. This do-it-yourself age has changed many things about being in business as a photographer….
Photography is about style… finding your own and being true to it. Style is something that takes time to develop and is unique to each individual photographer. There are many photographers that I admire… whether it be their post processing, their eye, their flare for finding beautiful light. I love images, those that move me and those that are simply eye candy. I respect these photographers tho… as peers and as artists. I take from them inspiration to push myself to a higher level, to shoot out of my comfort zone. I love to be inspired. When I first started my photographic journey I kept a notebook of photos that I had ripped out of magazines… they were all images that I loved something about. I also had a bulletin board above my work space, I kept scraps of fabric that I loved, photos I had taken, more images from books and magazines, quotations, cards from my family…. pictures my children had drawn … basically anything that gave me inspiration. I remember when I first started as a photographer I was frustrated that I didn’t know how to capture what I loved. I could take photos, but then so could anyone. The photos were missing something…. they lacked emotion, they lacked creativity… they were, just photos. I just wasn’t sure who I as a photographer was. Everyone had studio lights… I bought them (three times) and sold them all… It didn’t feel right, it didn’t suit me so I moved on. Props and blankets were all the rage… I tried it… not me either. I felt like I needed to be simple in my photographs, to be creative with the subjects, to let the photos speak for themselves. I made the decision to pick one thing that inspired me and to work on that. If I loved warm sunlight I sought it out… I spent weeks teaching myself the right times of day, what settings to use, and even how weather played a role in it all. I practiced and practiced until I felt like I could achieve that look. And then I picked something else that I loved and I worked on it… honestly it is a continual work in progress. I invested my time, money and resources so that I can bring my clients a quality product worth their investment. Over time I began to look at images… my own images mostly and critique them.. those I thought were so amazing began to have flaws that stuck out like a sore thumb to me. For example…
Lets step back to 2006………… it makes me cringe to look at these…. especially the one with selective color…. I was following a trend, listening to what my peers said on how to improve my photos… I didn’t know..
lovely pink skin……………
ok and a little color adjustment on that one…. (hard to achieve on a web sized photo)
Honestly, I didn’t have a relationship with my camera where I trusted my own eye. I can say now that I love my style… the one that I worked on for myself.. the one that fits me to a t. I love the creativity that photography allows me. Honestly I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Unfortunately it is easy to cross over from inspiration to imitation. It is a fine line that unfortunately is crossed often. When you look at other photographers work and try to recreate photos and then call them your own it crosses this line. I have given this so much thought lately… there are photography forums where you can post your work for critique and for inspiration… but when you see twelve people with the same photo.. the same baby in the same teacup on the same background you have to wonder where the individual style went. It goes back to photography being art. Our clients are not merely paying us to “take photos” they are paying us to capture memories and moments in their lives in our style that they love and respect. Do our clients realize when we are representing ourselves as an imitation of others? Probably… when you are all over the board with styles you are not creating your own. As photographers we place copyright on our images and even sometimes our words… but there is no way to copyright your style. To spend years of time educating yourself , separating yourself, defining and refining your look only to have it mimiced is frustrating to say the least.
Should I feel flattered? Obviously if you are going to copy someones work, or specific photographical aspects of their blog or site you must really love what they are doing right? Should that make it ok? Im not sure the answer to that. I would love to honestly say I feel flattered, unfortunately I dont.
I am not trying to be snarky, I guess I should put that disclaimer out there. It is not my intention to single anyone out or belittle anyone. I just think there should be some respect. Especially for those people who choose the same profession as you. I think that your creativity should be your own and something that you work hard to attain. I want people to see my work my photos and know that they are mine. I want my style to be that clear.