I have to admit when I see a beautiful landscape or nature photo I instantly think two things:
1. “I’d love to visit this location and get this shot.”
2. “How would I strive to get my very own perspective of this scene.”
In fact when I do visit certain locations its tough not to snap the classic perspective captured by greats such as Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, Edward Weston, and contemporary artists like Art Wolfe, John Sexton, James Kay and William Neill. In fact this repetition of classic shots is a common event that all photographers do at some point. For some it is part of the journey of self-discovery and for others its a means of collecting scenes on a to-do list.
One concept I’ve been throwing around in my mind is the concept of “Creative Debt”. This concept again came up when I was admiring the latest work of Bert Stern who just completed a shoot titled Lindsay Lohan as Marilyn Monroe in “The Last Sitting” for the New York magazine. The gallery contains (6) six images of Lindsay Lohan nude or in partial dress as Marilyn Monroe had been photographed by Bert Stern some 46 years earlier in the original “Last Sitting” (termed as such because it was the last time Marilyn Monroe was photographed before she died). The photography is no doubt art in my mind and hardly pornographic. (Note: You’ll still want to refrain from viewing it at work.) Over the years other fashion photographers have taken images similar to Bert Stern’s original Marilyn Monroe set just as countless landscape photographers have taken similar images to Ansel Adams.
“Creative Debt” what is it?
“Creative Debt” merely translates to a creative state where its easier to fall back on something safe, something done before and something with a known level of interest by viewers. More succinctly it is when creative components of an image whether composition, perspective, styling, etc. are owed to another photographer or even an older photo shoot completed by the same photographer. Great examples of this include numerous photos taken by other photographers of Ansel Adams’ Yosemite Valley from the tunnel view lookout or the Snake River view of the Grand Tetons and as just exemplified the Bert Stern ‘Lindsay Lohan as Marilyn Monroe in the “Last Sitting”‘ photo set. “Creative Debt” is hardly something to knock, but merely something to be conscious of as a photographer.
“Creative Debt” is the middle ground between the pit that is “Creative Block” and the pinnacle of finding your own perspective. Personally I dread “Creative Debt” as much as I dread a “Creative Block” simply because I’ve grown addicted to the high of capturing something unique. As with most highs it’s a fleeting sensation, hence the lure to keep pursuing truly unique photos. If I’m lucky the few unique photos I capture are equally appreciated by those that view them.
Something to think about the next time you head out with your camera or view photographs.
[tags]creative debt, photography, philosophy, landscape, Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, Edward Weston, Art Wolfe, John Sexton, James Kay, William Neill, Bert Stern, Marilyn Monroe, Lindsay Lohan, nude, portfolio, New York, magazine [/tags]