• godfrey pitt

Nothing is original!

The more I see, learn, read and experience about photography, the more I realise that originality is very elusive. Yes, every image is unique, but if it is analysed carefully there are tell tale signs to earlier work. These may be in the same genre or in painting, illustration, film or any other creative media.

A phrase I heard recently was that you cannot be original so be authentic. I have wondered about what that meant. I think that it is OK to be influenced by others, as long as flagrant plagiarism is avoided as well as passing off other's work as your own, obviously. Hundreds of years of painting tradition to establish the perfect layout and proportions for a beautiful landscape cannot and should not be ignored, just as we would not reject a wheel because it is round and has been designed by someone else and try to justify using a square instead. Nicolas Poussin and Claud Lorrain got it about right in the 1650's and countless others have followed in their footsteps. It is also no coincidence that the earliest photography portraits were direct copies of the style and composition of traditional painted portraits.

I read comments on Instagram where people love a photograph of a certain landscape and ask the OP here it was taken, only to be told that the location is a secret! I do not understand this mentality. The OP will have learned from others with regard to composition, depth of field, rule of thirds, lighting, etc., etc. Why they feel they have to guard their location like a source of truffles or a Saxon hoard is baffling, to me at least.

I say look at lots of art, in all manner of places not just online. Go to galleries and libraries, find what you like (and what you don't like, that is OK too) and be inspired. This inspiration will affect the photographs you take both consciously and subconsciously.

Will this affect your originality? Yes, just as it does everyone else. Can you still be authentic? Absolutely, and still produce beautiful work.

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© 2020 by Godfrey Pitt