Be YOUnique

I was trying to think of a title for this post you are reading now and I got very excited because my little mind came up with that title all on it's own. Who would've ever thought to put YOU for the U in Unique? We'll let me tell you, 160,000 other people. I really thought I had come up with something original but I didn't. It's been done before. Does that mean I copied said 160,000 people? No. I googled that title after I thought of it. It just so happens that creative minds think a like.

Where is this going you ask?

When you are taking pictures do you look for the opportunity to imitate exactly what another photographer has done? When you look at other photographers sites, are you looking to copy or for inspiration because there is a difference. I'm not asking to be mean (or because I'm some amazing photographer who's never done it - I have) but because I honestly don't want any photographer to lose the most important asset in their business, themselves! When we look to imitate instead of create we lose the Art, the Value in what we do. Would you want to buy a fake Van Gogh for the same price as a real one? That being said, I know he wasn't the first to paint sunflowers or the stars. It was how he painted them that set him apart from the other painters.

Now I want to make one thing very clear. I have copied. I have seen an image, loved it and looked to duplicate it. I can think of one very clear example of that. My friend Heather did this great pose where dad is holding on to baby by the foot upside down, I loved it and I copied it, I since had a friend tell me that she saw mine. She loved it and she copied it. So I am just as much part of the cycle as the next. But as I have continued to grow, I've realized that when you duplicate, it can never bring the satisfaction as when you CREATE!

It's hard to be and feel original now days. Since the invention of the digital camera everyone and their kid has become a photographer. It's hard to find locations that haven't been used or poses that haven't been done. If you use the same location as another photographer does that mean you're copying? No, unless you intentionally went there to try to make your photo's look like theirs. I could use the same location over and over again because do you know what does change? My subjects and what they bring to the table. A good photographer poses their subjects according to their personality. If I tried to make someone pose out of their persona or comfort zone, I won't get the results I want.

For a while I didn't look at another photographers website or blog because I didn't want to be influenced in a shoot. If you're more in the imitation category rather than inspiration, I'd highly recommend doing that. But today as I was preparing for a shoot, I drew a blank. I knew the locations I wanted to visit but that was it. For some reason I could not think of angles, lighting or poses. So, for the first time in a while, I went to another photographers site for i n s p i r a t i o n. I knew it was inspiration rather than copying because I didn't retain any of the poses I had looked at. I was doing a senior shoot and I looked at family photos. But nonetheless I looked, I was inspired and had an amazing shoot.

It's also important to realize that there are trends in photography just as there are trends in what we wear. Anyone can follow the trend, but it's the gal who puts her own spin on it that really knows how to work it! As you start out and feel unsure you will probably gravitate more toward copying then inspiration (I will admit that I did). I challenge you to ditch this style as quickly as you can and promise that when you do you will finally see the true confidence kick-in. I have realized that there is a certain style that I just gravitate toward. Has this style been done before? Only at least a thousand times, but it's still mine and it's what I love. And each day, each shoot I try to go out and own it more and more as my own artistic expression.

My mom always told me
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. While this may be true with younger siblings, it does not apply to business. Step back and evaluate your creativity. Are you simply doing what's been done before? That's fine. Just work it, and own it! Are you always trying to come up with new ideas and feeling the vibe from your subjects? Great! Are you scoring sites trying to study other people's poses and finding the trendiest props? If so, again I encourage you to not be influenced. Step back and see what changes you may need to make in order to be more creative and better photographer. Be YOUnigque! ;)

And for some *inspiration*
35 Beautiful Photography Websites.

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