On Originality in Photography

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,062
Re: On Originality in Photography
In reply to Mark_A, 6 months ago

Great topic. One thing to keep in mind is that originality is a matter of degree. There isn't a 'yes' or 'no' when deciding if a work is original. Creative people tend to express more unique points of view than less creative people, but it's not all or nothing although it's extremely common to want to force complex ideas into simple categories.

Digital photography and the internet have created a situation where a huge number of photos are viewable. Has that had a negative effect on originality? My guess is that having access to so many photos actually enhances originality although it seems like the opposite is true. Many millions of common photos (taken from just about any possible perspective and setting) can be brought up on your screen with a simple click or tap of the screen. That can be overwhelming and somewhat de-motivating, but it also forces you to be more creative with your photos to have any chance of making an impact. It helps to be pushed. In addition, you can easily view works by top photographers and other great artists. Learning about their creativity does not limit your creativity. Borrowing one of their techniques may decrease the originality of your photograph in one area but open new doors in other areas.

The following process might help. When I see a photo that I like, one that I find different from anything I've seen before (at least in some aspect), I do two things. First, I save it to a private library that I keep as a collection of inspiring photos. I glance at the library once in a while to spark my creative juices and also just to enjoy the photos. Secondly, I keep a list of photographic ideas. I add the aspects of the photo that caught my attention to that list, plus I write down any new ideas that come to mind at that moment. The aspect of the photo that got my attention might be abstract and have nothing to do with the subject, composition, etc. I usually don't put a link to the photo in the written notes. I save the ideas separate from the images so that when I look back at my notes my imagination isn't limited by the visual of the original image.

I'm primarily a hobbiest and I don't spend a lot of time on photography. To give you some context, I might find one or two photos a month that I'll add to my collection. It's not a time consuming process, but it is something useful and fun to have. The more you add to your list of ideas, the less derivative the ideas you generate will become and the more easily you'll be able to pull concepts out of photos and run with them in many different directions.  Of course natural creativity is a factor.  It helps to be one of those people who has an extremely vivid imagination... or so I hear.

Hope this helps,


Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Post (hide subjects)Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark post MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow