Copying the Photography of Others Will Get You Nowhere

In the field of art, it’s common for artists to draw inspiration from others. This is equally true in photography, which is why we can see so many photographs that are close to, or sometimes a replica of, renowned works. While trying to replicate masters is a good thing when you’re learning, it won’t take you very far in the long run. To talk more about the ethics and reality of copying (or stealing) that happens in photography, and how it affects your creative output, today we have photographer Ted Forbes to break down the issues.

When you’re just starting out in photography, it is understandable that you have close to zero know-how of what to do. It’s natural for you to emulate others. And there’s nothing wrong with that—doing so allows you to kickstart your journey and helps get those creative juices flowing. But you need to be aware of the boundaries of this gray moral area and to know when to stop copying others. As Forbes puts it: “Cover bands don’t change the world.”

As Forbes rightly points out, the problem with copying others’ work is that you’ll always remain a copy and won’t be able to reach beyond that level. So once you’ve learned enough, you must then shift your focus on developing your personal style. Like children develop their own personality when growing up, you need to define who you are with your work. For this, Forbes posits a comparison: innovators versus culminators. To understand what he means, be sure to the complete video.

When you’re done, ask yourself: are you an innovator or a culminator?

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