Food for thought: But other people have done this already…


General Photography

Imagine you have what you think is a brilliant idea for a new photography project. Let’s assume your brilliant idea revolves around taking photos of little dolls or miniature people. Now imagine that even before you start taking your photos - or shortly after (it doesn’t really matter) - somebody (who pays attention to what’s going on on this weblog) tells you that David Levinthal has built his entire career around doing exactly that. What do you do? Do you still proceed with your idea? Or, if you have already done the work, do you throw the following things: 1. a tantrum and 2. the photos (the latter into the trash bin)? And if you decide to simply keep your work and if then somebody tells you that you’re merely copying David Levinthal or that you’re a David Levinthal pupil (or whatever else intellectual laziness makes people say) how do you react to that?

I think it’s a pretty obvious statement that it is very hard to do any photographic work that is 100 percent original. How do you deal with that as a photographer? Even if you wanted to pitch your photos for a gallery show do you really have to care? Note, I am assuming that you’re not blatantly ripping of somebody else’s work - taking photos of your little kids growing up and maturing is one thing, but taking hundreds and hundreds of photos of water towers would be a bit too close to what other artists have based their career on. But even if you shamelessly copy somebody else’s work you might actually get away with it.

In any case, with the internet showing us so much of what other people have been doing, do you proceed with what you want to do - even if you know somebody else has done it already?
(I am indebted to Mark for making me think about this)