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Imitation vs Inspiration | Finding the line

There are not too many of us that were able to teach ourselves math by reflection. I certainly know I didn’t. I learned by seeing problems, learning how they were solved, repeating the solving steps, and trying it on my own.

When it came to photography I started by just shooting. The internet existed back then, but not in the way it does today. Online workshops, Youtube, Facebook, none of that existed. There were books and some forums where you could post some work and get critiques, or see your favorite photographer’s shares. There were also in person workshops and classes you could take at local schools. Online universities were just becoming a thing.

Fast forward to today? We have books, youtube, Facebook, websites, blogs, workshops, forums, newsletters, online degrees, online graduate degrees, and more. You have access to SO many resources.

You have access to so much inspiration. Just be true to you, and fair to those that inspire you.

Here is a slide from the upcoming Introspection & Analysis workshop.  We discuss what it means to have your own voice and what to do if you’re still finding it. And then we discuss where to draw the line:

imitationIf your photo looks the same, if your idea is the same, you should probably request permission to share. And honestly, in this industry with so many eyes watching, most people know where it came from so sharing without giving credit is a poor reflection on you.

And, if it’s someone close to you, either personally, or locally. Or someone mentoring you. This can be exceptionally frustrating. And you don’t want to irritate someone that is trying to help you. They worked hard to be original and learn the craft, they are assisting you so that you can do the same. It’s normal, to a large degree it’s even expected. But, tread lightly, you can damage a relationship really quickly this way.

If you were inspired and made your own twist, why not still give them a shout out. It’s a tremendous compliment to know that you’ve reached out of your screen and affected another artist and inspired them to give it a go.

There are so many ways to find your voice. And one of them IS imitation. You can do it! There is nothing wrong with it. But here is a suggestion. What inspired you to imitate that piece? What could you have done to make it your own? What else could you have tried? Could you have taken it from imitation TO inspiration?

Mimicry is a tool to understand what you have seen. It’s up to you to actually learn how to do it on your own, and be your own artist.

And remember place nice in the sandbox. Because I get pissed off when I see drama in my feed.

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