If you’ve seen a Hollywood film these days you’ll know that a truly original film is tough to come by. Remakes, sequels, reboots, TV programs made into movies, etc. are the safe plays for movie studios. The most original and daring films come from artists bootstrapping their films and taking them to independent film circuits. The underlying component to this dynamic is of course risk, who shoulders the risk and what is the cost of failure.
In a similar fashion the more I travel the more I see photographers clustered together aiming their sights on the lower risk shot. The shot that people are already familiar with and/or the shot that likely takes less effort to get. This of course is a generality, but it reminds me of a quote from John Lubbock:
What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
– John Lubbock
If we’re familiar with the popular work of another artist we’re very likely to be influenced by it and take comfort in it. As a result it takes some additional effort to not fall into reproducing the same photo and finding one’s own perspective. For a select few that can be accomplished with ease and for others it is an elusive task. When you free yourself of the things you know and venture into the unknown new perspectives arise. Sometimes that requires a long hike out of the way or taking the photos you know before you find the photos you want. Personally I take no shame in photographing familiar compositions. I do so in knowing that it is the first step of a longer creative process. Photographing the familiar is comforting and inspiring, but once I’ve honored those of influence I move on to explore my surroundings and look for my original photograph.
The photographer with one of the biggest shadows to step out from behind, Ansel Adams, put it well…
Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit.
[tags]photography, Yosemite, National Park, photographer, travel, California, stock photo[/tags]