Fake Plastic Trees

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Storm Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Storm Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

There are quite a bit of photography blog posts online these days denouncing various techniques, styles and marketing methodologies that are deemed to be popular. This is not another one of those articles. Yes, it’s clear that most landscape photography is derivative. Maybe all of it is. We all post photos on the web for validation of some sorts however you want to define it. It’s not my place to judge though as I’m involved with the genre myself. I’m doing and have done all of the above. What the focus should be on is taking an introspective look within yourself and ask, “Does my best work truly come from my soul? Am I being honest with myself?” If the answer is no then why?

It’s easy to crap all over someone else’s work because it’s not ours. I’ve done it. I might even be thinking of a few examples in my own head right now. I’d like to stop this bad habit. You might look at the photographer’s work and think, “Oh he copied that one guy.” or “It’s not art because all he does is shoot icons and sell to clueless people.” “So and so has no personal vision.” “He’s just doing that for likes.” It’s natural to feel that way when a photographer obviously doesn’t fit our vision of what that photographer should be doing. The truth is that only one person knows if the work was the result of honest personal vision and that is the photographer themselves. Who am I to question that? If you’re creating honest work for yourself then keep doing what you’re doing. Caving in to others’ wishes is conformity too if not more so.

However, we only get one shot at this thing called life; if you look in the mirror by the end of it and can’t see yourself then I’ll feel sorry for you. Conversely, if you find yourself getting aggravated by others then turn off the computer sometimes and stop looking at social media or be more selective in what you follow. Who cares what other photographers are doing unless their actions are having a positive influence on your life. Live your own life on your own terms.


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4 thoughts

  1. “Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write (photograph). Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write (photograph)? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write (photograph)? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, ‘I must,’ then build your life upon it.”

    http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-middle-of-things-advice-for-young-writers

  2. Hi Richard –

    I read this a few weeks ago and your advice prompted me to do exactly what you suggest. I unfollowed a bunch of people on Facebook and am a lot happier in not seeing their photography and comments every day. At least for me, it is hard not to care about what others are doing. I do not think I let it affect my photography but it certainly affects my confidence as a photographer. I am rambling a bit but just wanted to let you know that I appreciated this post, even if I can’t bring myself to practice your advice every day. But, I might be getting a little better…

    Cheers,
    Sarah

    • Thanks Sarah. Glad that you got something out of this. I struggle with this myself too in that sometimes I might want to unfollow someone for various reasons but I wonder if they might take it personally and think I’m a jerk when that isn’t really the intent. Maybe that isn’t a concern to some people but I don’t think it’s always an easy decision to make.

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