Now how many times have you heard that ? I am pretty sure that’s probably the most common advise you will get whenever you volunteer to be advised on photography and everything related. But what exactly is “Being Original” ? A quick Google search with just the word “Original’ reveals that it can be both used as an adjective and a noun and Google also displays four meanings of the word. What we are concerned with or rather what the experts indicate while giving advises of being original is the second meaning under the adjective usage of the word –
“created personally by a particular artist, writer, musician, etc.; not a copy“.
Please note that I have taken the pains to write the last three words in BOLD. This has been done because that is precisely what is meant by Being Original or in other words “AVOID CUT COPY PASTE” at all costs.
This however doesn’t mean you always have to come with newer and newer things. Nobody has any objection to any of your work which might be inspired by some other earlier work by some other photographer. However, there is a very thin line that effectively separates Inspiration from Imitation. But then again if you ask me how to differentiate between inspiration and imitation I can’t give any specific set of parameters. Its all up to your own judgement and how your viewers perceive your work.
One suggestion I think will be of help is that just don’t blindly follow someone. For instance, a few days back I had posted a photo on a photography forum in Facebook along with the EXIF information as per the rules of that particular forum; couple of days later I got a notification that one guy has left a comment on the photograph saying that inspired by the photo that I had posted he had tried to replicate the image by using the same settings as per my EXIF information but had only ended up with a black frame. This is exactly what a classic example of following blindly looks like. It was really heartening to know that a photo shot by me could inspire someone to go out and try to replicate that. But where he went all wrong was when he tried to implement the same settings that I had used without making an effort to know the position or angle I shot the frame from or the time of the day I shot at or the available light when I shot the photo and end number of other factors. This incident also exhibits a lack of understanding about the camera settings because if that person had even the most basic understanding he would have applied his brains to tweak the settings about according to the conditions he was shooting in. Even though he claimed to be inspired but in reality he ended up imitaing.
What is important is that your viewer gets to see your own interpretation of your subject. Therefore, even at the cost of repetition let me conclude by saying Get Inspired But Don’t Imitate.