On the consequences of plagiarism in photography
Updated: Jan 24, 2020
I rarely write about my impressions upon things happening "around" my small photography footprint but this time I have to. So to speak in general, throughout my few years of activity in fine art photography, I have tried (and hopefully to some extend achieved) to build a unique and solid photographer's profile that is a true emanation of my inner self. Even though things have changed in my activity, philosophy and view on photography (ending up to what it is now), all attributes of my profile are true and original. This profile is made from fundamental things like subject selection, shooting angles, scene light, post processing techniques, titling, image presentation to social media and website form. It makes me sad to see (again) that there has been a consistent attempt to imitate most of these attributes, even to the last word of certain writings of mine. And I say sad because in no way I feel frustrated since no actual infringement is involved. However, some people miss to see that fine art photography is not about imitating the work or "presence" of other photographers but a unique opportunity to create something truly original, something even not conceived before. I find that this issue is inherent mostly in fine art photography since it is the type of photography that exposes to a great extend our view on things we shoot. Of course, in no way I imply that a few years back I coined a new photography genre that is now being copied, certainly not. Being yourself in photography is even more important than being different in this field, so if you are gradually "mutating" to a copycat of a photographer without being aware of it, well this surely is a terrible loss of time, energy and creativity. Plagiarism in photography is a death trap, so please keep that in mind when you happen to examine the work of other photographers or participate to one of their workshops. Plagiarism can be found in many things like same selection of a subject almost impossible to find or same post processing end result, same shooting angle of a given subject etc. Even when a certain well known subject has only one good vantage point to take a shot, even then, there can be numerous different ways to treat an image since it is about the fine art perspective of the creator. So please remember that all things shown or revealed either on the net or in a workshop are merely tools of the craft. Everybody uses almost the same tools, yet (thankfully) the derivatives can be so many, unlimited even. Plagiarism is the outcome of repeatability of someone else's work, which in turn is not coincidence but the outcome of lack or inability to create something on our own. Yes, coincidence can jump in from time to time but a thorough view on the body of work will tell a lot.
If not throughout the route, then at least at the start of our interactions with photography, we are stormed by ideas, technicalities, tips and tricks, hardware that we need (or think we need), g.a.s., software plugins that do this and that, information about techniques, locations, subjects etc, literally the whole world is coming up on us and all this is spiced up by our hunger to make photos, we run dozens of things simultaneously but we need to slow down a bit, to get back to the very start of it all, which is the reason why we decided to seriously start shooting, to devote ourselves to photography at any way. However, people often miss to comprehend this primal step. All this abundance of information, software and hardware related to photography may act as impressive diversions as the sad truth is that they offer almost nothing to mold a photographic profile. Being able to create something out of nothing is hard to achieve and it rarely happens in our life as individuals. If you are like me and you see photography as an unadulterated aspect of art, please take some time and do some talking with yourself on things like what your photography footprint should be and how to build a unique presence in this field. Be unique not because you have to but because you need to. In other words, copy the tools, not the craft. Remember, plagiarism will only feed our bad photographic self and sooner or later will kill our good and creative part of it. Even though I see lots of times some fellow photographers being frustrated about their work being stolen (until the moment this becomes an advertising tool when you flood the social media about it), I have to say that this uncomfortable situation is nothing compared to seeing other photographers slowly mutating to a copied photographic profile, sometimes without realizing it. Indeed, in the field of fine art photography there is room and opportunities for everyone of us to evolve and do beautiful things in a unique way, in our way. Don't miss your chance on this...