August 7, 2012

Photography & Fads

This photo of Sherman by Matthew Brady shows how fleeting fads can be. Back in the civil war days this was how you posed your subjects. Does his nipple itch?

Today’s Internet culture is obsessed with fads. Memes, fads, viral ideas, whatever. You see it in photography every day.

When Instagram launched, I started seeing Instagram-like images from photographers who weren’t even using Instagram. When a popular wedding photographer started posting couples shots where the subjects were backlit to the point that all you saw was flare from the sun and not their faces, that shot started popping up on every wedding site I visited.

The thing about fads is – well they are only valuable until the novelty is gone. And then the herd moves onto the next thing.

So if you’re out there copying every fad you find…you’re eliminating your chance of developing a personal style in favor of trying to fit in with the cool kids. And trust me when I tell you, you will never fit in with the cool kids. I don’t even know why you’d want to.

Fighting the obsession with NEW over just being YOU is a constant battle I wage here at Photofocus and one that I will dedicate the rest of my career to.

It’s fine to look at other photographers’ work and look for inspiration. In fact I highly encourage it. But copying that work for publication is simply proof that you have the ability to duplicate what someone else did. The real art and craft of photography is letting that information influence you only to the point that it sparks something from deep inside you that YOU want to say. Something of your true self. Not something that someone else thinks is cool but that YOU think is cool.

Maybe you’ll START the fad instead of just following it that way.

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