It took me a while to come to this realization, but as the sun rising in the photograph above, it simply had to happen. When I was involved in music production, I used to listen to a lot of music. I guess this is a very common pattern, that sort of tells you that you love what you do. And it is true, to an extent. It is a great starting point. You learn a lot during this period. You dismantle the songs, pick things up that you normally wouldn’t and then you try to implement these little tricks in your own productions. It works the charm. I followed the same pattern when I took on photography. I first studied the craft without paying too much attention to other people’s work.
After a year or so, I started studying photographs instead of techniques. That did take me to the next level, but after couple of years of doing so, I realized that it is time to take a break from that as well. What made me do so is quite weird for me at the moment. I noticed that following other people’s work can motivate me quite a lot, but not necessary feed me inspiration, which is important in creative work. I found myself wanting to make similar photographs. I started thinking “I wish I had taken that” and set off to almost copy the great shot that I have seen somewhere online. While it is a great experience and I would actually recommend to try to copy work of someone you admire, it will most likely not inspire you and inject you with new ideas. It will only take you as far as best replica. A cover song will always remain a cover song. It doesn’t mean it cannot be a great cover, but the original idea will always belong to someone else.
Searching for inspiration within your own field of art is pretty dangerous. You can find yourself copying others work, whether you are conscious of it or not. It can leave you with feelings of admiration, envy, or even feeling bad about yourself as we tend to automatically compare our work to the one we are seeing/hearing.
In my humble opinion, I think it is best if we look for inspiration elsewhere. There is so much great work out there in every possible field that you can always find something that moves you. Music, photography, film, paintings, you name it. Even better if it is life itself. I have once read a quote that changed my approach to photography forever. Joel Strasser said that “a good photographer must love life more than he loves photography”. There is so much truth in that. Most of the greatest work out there came from artists inspired by something completely unrelated to their work.
It is a short post but I will elaborate more on it at the beginning of next year as I decided to stay away from all sources of photographs until end of this year. I will then report on my findings.