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Forums > Photography Talk > Obsessing with another photographers work? Search   Reply
Photographer
Jakov Markovic
Posts: 954
Belgrade, Central Serbia, Serbia


So, I've been doing photography for very short time, but I discovered this photographer early on, and I keep on going back to his images for a reference.

He's at the top of his game right now, but isn't one of "the most famous" ones, and I was thinking, is this normal?

I mean, I have every single image of his in my mind(not to mention on my hard drive), and I keep instructing models based on his work.

I research a lot, but i still haven't found an equivalent inspiration.

Is it that I'm plain crazy, or that he "feels" the image same way as I do, or something?
Oct 12 13 08:14 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
the lonely photographer
Posts: 1,805
Beverly Hills, California, US


Let him inspire you, there will be a day you blaze your own trail. Just be glad there are others out there that we can all follow.  Someday others may follow us
Oct 12 13 09:01 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Ronald N. Tan
Posts: 2,622
Los Angeles, California, US


I think it is OK to have our photographer heroes or heroines. When I started with photography in 2007, I had images from Sean Armenta saved. As I grow and evolve myself, my own photographer voice grew and with my professional evolution also learned to appreciate other artists and my list of inspiration have grown to include eminent photographers like Erwin Olaf. His photography is unique. On his website, there are images of men with their tumescent penises and elsewhere on his site are the images of the Dutch royalty.
Oct 12 13 09:13 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Teddy Johnson
Posts: 14
Atlanta, Georgia, US


perfectly acceptable to have a muse...

one of my favorite photographers to follow is Benjamin Von Wong and i do the same to him as you do to your point of inspiration.
Oct 12 13 09:24 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jakov Markovic
Posts: 954
Belgrade, Central Serbia, Serbia


I'm just worried I might end up being a fake version of him?
Oct 12 13 09:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Teddy Johnson
Posts: 14
Atlanta, Georgia, US


as long as you don't flat out copy him then you're fine.
Oct 12 13 09:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
michael___
Posts: 276
New York, New York, US


perfectly normal as long as this person is me.
Oct 12 13 09:46 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mark C Smith
Posts: 687
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Jakov Markovic wrote:
I'm just worried I might end up being a fake version of him?

I think if you're just using his images from memory, you'll always be putting your own spin on it, even if you don't really feel like you are right now. If you have printouts of his pictures and are instructing your models to pose exactly the same to the 1/2 inch, lighting them the same, etc...then you might need to worry a bit more about doing your own thing.

Oct 12 13 10:00 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jakov Markovic
Posts: 954
Belgrade, Central Serbia, Serbia


I don't copy, but I get what he's aiming at, and that just feels right, so whenever I come up with something, I keep asking myself what would he have done, and sometiems I even ask him ahaha.
Oct 12 13 10:12 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Select Models
Posts: 35,094
Upland, California, US


Obsessing with another photographers work?

Many years ago when I was a young paddywan and Jedi in training.. I gazed in amazement over their skilled and talented images... NOW... I am 'The Chuck Norris of Model Photography' (details on the MM page) and a 'Jedi Master' who's constantly running from hoards of autograph seekers... roll... lol
Oct 12 13 10:35 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Edge of the Moon
Posts: 428
New York, New York, US


I'm awesome.
Unfortunately, nobody else thinks so.
Oct 12 13 10:39 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Karl JW Johnston
Posts: 8,856
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada


I used to obsess about this photographer night and day. His work..his style..his look and charm. I thought night and day about how I would become bettee than him, till the moment I slept and from the moment I woke. when shooting I would stay out longer..I would press harder..collect more images..learn more techniques..research above everything I could find about his work until It got to the point where it became more than habit. but ritual.

I would look at his face before I went to sleep at night and tell him I would best him tomorrow. and the next day. and the next. Till I sold the mirror. Then I just recited it to myself before bed. But having the mirror really helped at first to pump me up.

become the best version of yourself..now that is something to be proud to obsess over..others..not so much. its like being envious of a different trailpath that leads to the same mountain peak. dont look at other people's trails and forget about your own. focus on your path and conquering it as best you can imagine
Oct 12 13 10:55 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Amul La La
Posts: 708
Plymouth, England, United Kingdom


Initially I was addicted to scowering photographers, but as I started to formulate  my own way, it declined steadily. 2 years ago I looked at many upon many Ph, now it's just down to a handful.
Oct 13 13 02:30 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Herman Surkis
Posts: 7,735
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


First you copy, then you imitate, then you innovate.
Styles will resonate at certain times of your life.
I have on occasion copied a lighting style to the N'th degree, until I understood it, and could create it with no effort, then I adapted it to my needs.
Oct 13 13 03:10 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
B R U N E S C I
Posts: 25,319
Bath, England, United Kingdom


Herman Surkis wrote:
First you copy, then you imitate, then you innovate.

+1

If a particular person's work resonates for you at a particular point in your development there's no harm in aspiring to create something similar.

As long as you're not flat-out coping it image for image, then eventually your own voice (some call it 'style') will come through and you may find yourself going in a different direction... or you may not. Either way if you have enough passion for your work you still might end up being a better photographer than your hero.



Just my $0.02

Ciao
Stefano

www.stefanobrunesci.com

Oct 13 13 03:20 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Warren Leimbach
Posts: 2,491
Tampa, Florida, US


Virtuosity is inspiring.  It's OK to be inspired.

Don't worry if you copy a specific lighting style or other technical details.  There are no secrets in that respect.  Try many techniques and see which ones you like.  The tools are there for everyone. 

I don't advise slavishly copying every detail of given shot, except maybe as a classroom exercise.  It's OK as a technical challenge, but it gets very boring very quickly.  "Don't look like your heroes.  SEE like your heroes."  - author unknown.

Keep shooting, keep striving.  Find things that fascinate you and point your camera at them.  You will find your own voice, your own approach to telling stories.
Oct 13 13 08:22 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jakov Markovic
Posts: 954
Belgrade, Central Serbia, Serbia


It's not about even similar looking images, it's about myself constantly comparing what I've done to him, and not to others? I'm concerned that I can't run across anything that "works" as a comparison?
Oct 13 13 09:28 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
KMP
Posts: 4,509
Houston, Texas, US


Teddy Johnson wrote:
as long as you don't flat out copy him then you're fine.

This is very true..  You can copy a shot as an exercise in technique... but beyond that it's best to emulate, not imitate.   Normally, imitation is not done well and only creates mediocre, if no down right bad, boring images.

I've had artists of all sorts inspire me over the years.  Sometimes I studied their techniques, but I found it was better to study them.   Try to understand their inspiration and it can give valuable insight to your own work.

Hopefully, you'll find your own way artistically and as that voice matures, you'll find your style and others may look to you for inspiration.. who knows..

Good luck to you!!

Oct 13 13 09:59 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Hi_Spade Photography
Posts: 759
Darlington, South Carolina, US


I keep up with several photographers here on MM. One of them is Jay MM#1820430. I love his work and what he can do with speedlights. I ask him for advice every now and then. He's always very helpful and he knows what he's talking about.
Oct 13 13 10:17 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
C s p i n e
Posts: 3,899
Portland, Oregon, US


It's completely normal to become infatuated with someone else's work. Go ahead and compare, let their work inspire you, and continue doing your own thing.
Oct 13 13 10:31 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Eastfist
Posts: 3,460
Green Bay, Wisconsin, US


I study multiple artists and photographers, but I still want to come up with my own distinctive style.
Oct 13 13 10:47 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Vector One Photography
Posts: 2,472
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US


I become very interested in Helmut Newton's work. It inspired me to do a series in his style. When I finished, or at least did enough to call it a series, I realized I would never be as good as he was in this style.  But I also realized he would never be as good as I was in my primary style (which is NOT shown here on MM).

Marc Hauser is a fine art / commercial / advertising photographer from Chicago and he was giving a lecture at the annual Photoplus convention in New York. He was passing around his portfolio and said, "Don't bother copying my work, if the art director wants my style, then he'll hire me. Develop your own style and if you are lucky the art directors will like it and hire you."

Learn from them, copy them for awhile, let them inspire you... but then do it your way.
Oct 13 13 11:06 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mikey McMichaels
Posts: 1,436
New York, New York, US


Jakov Markovic wrote:
So, I've been doing photography for very short time, but I discovered this photographer early on, and I keep on going back to his images for a reference.

He's at the top of his game right now, but isn't one of "the most famous" ones, and I was thinking, is this normal?

I mean, I have every single image of his in my mind(not to mention on my hard drive), and I keep instructing models based on his work.

I research a lot, but i still haven't found an equivalent inspiration.

Is it that I'm plain crazy, or that he "feels" the image same way as I do, or something?

There is no way for us to know from the outside what the answer is in this specific case, but I've had a similar experience lately and I think it's finding a kindred spirit who shares overlapping points of view/beliefs.

It's also possible that they are unique at the moment, and are compelling because they are different from everything else that's going on.

Or a synergy of both of these.


I don't think it's a waste of time to ask the question, but I don't think answering it successfully is important.


I think one thing that's happening is that you're looking at that work as a viewer, not as a photographer, which can be difficult to do, but important to be able to do. So not answering the question allows you to continue to view as a viewer - purely emotionally, not analytically, until the point where you can view any work, including your own, that way, at any time.

Oct 13 13 02:15 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mikey McMichaels
Posts: 1,436
New York, New York, US


Jakov Markovic wrote:
I'm just worried I might end up being a fake version of him?

That won't happen.

You might go there temporarily, but unless you really have no personality or identity yourself, that won't happen.

Jump in, learn what you can learn, and then be yourself.



I think when shooting "for real" you should always shoot from instinct - don't think, just shoot.

I think it's also important to have times where you shoot only from thought. If you end up with something good, it's legitimate, but ultimately the intent of the "thinking" shoot is as a test shoot.

In sports, you have practice and games. Within practice you have drills and scrimmages and pre-season, you also have training, like football players running through tires or lifting weights.

Working on things both as a whole and as parts are valuable and it's important to do both, not just one or the other.

Oct 13 13 02:24 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mikey McMichaels
Posts: 1,436
New York, New York, US


Teddy Johnson wrote:
as long as you don't flat out copy him then you're fine.

There's nothing wrong with flat out copying him.

It's wrong if you do that and then misrepresent what you've done.

Probably the best way to move past an obsession like this is to copy so exactly that they mystery is gone and it's become boring so that it's no longer compelling.

Oct 13 13 02:26 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mikey McMichaels
Posts: 1,436
New York, New York, US


Amul La La wrote:
Initially I was addicted to scowering photographers, but as I started to formulate  my own way, it declined steadily. 2 years ago I looked at many upon many Ph, now it's just down to a handful.

I think this is the natural progression.

Oct 13 13 02:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mikey McMichaels
Posts: 1,436
New York, New York, US


Jakov Markovic wrote:
It's not about even similar looking images, it's about myself constantly comparing what I've done to him, and not to others? I'm concerned that I can't run across anything that "works" as a comparison?

Assuming that is in fact the case, so what?

And in response to your answer, so what?

Keep asking yourself that.


It's important to clarify your own views from other's views that you've internalized.

Someone posted "as long as you don't copy him exactly". There are people who because of their need to fit in, will internalize that and believe it as an objective truth because of their need for acceptance rather than because they believe it.

Whether it is an objective truth is irrelevant to you, only what you truly believe is relevant to you.


You're instinct is driving you one way and your intellect is fighting it.

It really comes down to your beliefs on the relevance of instinct.

Oct 13 13 02:35 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jeffrey M Fletcher
Posts: 4,300
Asheville, North Carolina, US


Jakov Markovic wrote:
I don't copy, but I get what he's aiming at, and that just feels right, so whenever I come up with something, I keep asking myself what would he have done, and sometiems I even ask him ahaha.

Great, but I don't think you go far enough. You should copy his work. Take 1 image per month and try to recreate it as closely as you can. If he's agreeable then have him critique it afterwards and see what you have missed.

In older visual art mediums it's common and recommended to copy the masters. Even more common in music. I see no reason that someone studying photography shouldn't do this.

Oct 13 13 02:38 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AJScalzitti
Posts: 11,532
Atlanta, Georgia, US


Jakov Markovic wrote:
It's not about even similar looking images, it's about myself constantly comparing what I've done to him, and not to others? I'm concerned that I can't run across anything that "works" as a comparison?

Don't look at just other photographers then.  Painters to movies are all visual arts that you can be inspired by (well nothing with Ben Affleck in it).

Oct 13 13 02:41 pm  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
ST Retouch
Posts: 239
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland


This thread remind me of something.
When I was young , I had my hero ( one photographer) and desperately I was trying to copy his work.
Then when I started to learn photography, and to have real deep knowledge in photography, once I realized that my hero ( that photographer) was ordinary snap shooter .
And these days when I want to laugh with myself I always remember myself about "that hero" smile

So when you decide to have "your hero" be very careful that "your hero" is a real master of his/her work.
Or he/she is just trendy/fancy photographer and if you ( not "you" personally) are young and without deep knowledge in photography , you will be disappointed one day with "your hero"

Best
ST
Oct 13 13 02:55 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jakov Markovic
Posts: 954
Belgrade, Central Serbia, Serbia


AJScalzitti wrote:
Don't look at just other photographers then.  Painters to movies are all visual arts that you can be inspired by (well nothing with Ben Affleck in it).

I look critically at everything. If I didn't, I'd be perfectly happy with only shooting weddings and high school portraits.

ST Retouch wrote:
Or he/she is just trendy/fancy photographer and if you ( not "you" personally) are young and without deep knowledge in photography , you will be disappointed one day with "your hero"

ST

He's definitely not trendy, or fancy, and he does shoot Vogue... so... big_smile


Mikey McMichaels wrote:
There's nothing wrong with flat out copying him.

It's wrong if you do that and then misrepresent what you've done.

Probably the best way to move past an obsession like this is to copy so exactly that they mystery is gone and it's become boring so that it's no longer compelling.

Yeah, but... I think I'm past the "mystery bit", it's now more like this. I come up with something, few months later I se where's he at and he's done the exact same thing. I try to experiment, and then when I google, I've seen he's done that thing pretty much the same way (obviously my production is incomparable to his, but I'm referring to his early work). I do other stuff to, but things that are similar come naturally.

And, also, we both have sam reference points when it comes to "all stars". Maybe I like him, because he's out there, and Ritts isn't?

Should I try and lend an assistant position with him? Is that healthy?

Oct 13 13 05:36 pm  Link  Quote 
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