I am an individual, and so are you. Unique and to my knowledge only one of me with my specific traits has been created but there have been many influences that have guided me to the point I am at today, shaping me into a unique human being.
I have been pondering the photography I have seen over the years. I have been wondering why so many people (photographers) try to literally walk the paths of many great photographers that came before them in order to “duplicate” the images taken by the greats. Being influenced by the greats, who were individuals and are individuals, should not be an attempt to duplicate what has already been done before but to learn from those things that made them great to begin with.
Learning from what other photographers have done such as John Blakemore, Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, Alex Boyd, Vivian Maier, √ Henri Cartier-Bresson, Joel Meyerowitz, Bruce Dale, Steve Uzzell does not mean you should copy what they have done but allow them to influence you as you create your own style of shooting that hopefully will rival some of the greats. You should be an individual, be unique.
I consider myself a fortunate photographer because of my early experiences. I was first taught by my dad who encouraged me to develop my own style, my persona in regards to the kinds of photography I liked, and that has enabled me to create images that were a true part of my experiences and my vision and not someone else’s. I said in the paragraph above that there have been many photographers that influenced my photography from the past and the present.
I have seen students in my workshops and field trips who had taken the time to study the works of other famous photographers and it was easy to see how those photographers influenced the student’s work.
There were also students who made some magical and incredible images and they were just starting out. Some are fortunate to have a natural ability to render the image as they saw it and provide a unique composition.
But there were also those who felt that stepping in another’s footsteps would lead them to great images. So they might have been influenced by the greats, but to only duplicate what had been done once before.
Learning is a never ending part of our lives and we not only learn by doing but also from seeing and listening and being influenced by those who have so kindly decided to share their knowledge either visually or through lectures. And not because I give workshops and field trips, but you should consider my field trips as another way to learn or perhaps my one on one classes.
You should purchase the books and DVD’s that these excellent photographers have done. Go to galleries. Study their images. Look for the placement of their subjects. See how the used light and shadow. Learn from those who have come before you, but do not copy. Create!
I can only hope that the paths I have taken, the roads I have traveled and the people who have influenced me have in some way helped me to influence at least one other person.
√ Henri Cartier-Bresson is considered the father of photojournalism.
noun: influence; plural noun: influences
1. 1. the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something