Today I read a great article by Seth Godin talking about the ‘theft’ of ideas… You can read it here: http://ideas.ted.com/2014/02/03/the-big-mistake-we-all-make-about-ideas/
In my industry I see this all the time. People get hurt/bitter/mad/etc (‘butthurt’ as my husband and other workaholics fans would call it) when another photographer ‘steals’ their signature pose, lighting style, location… but really unless your Amazon (who apparently invented and recently patented the idea of photographing on a white background) you more than likely didn’t invent the idea of posing someone in that way. Nor is it likely that you are the first to photograph on that brick wall or patch of grass.
BUT instead it’s more likely that one of two awesome things happened 1) someone was INSPIRED by you to push their own style and create images using your style as an inspiration. Your work opened up a world of new possibilities for them and encouraged them to push their work farther, outside their comfort zone and to try something new. And yes, they may even do it BETTER than you (ooo I know that burns sometimes). OR 2) (as unbelievable as it may be) they in their unfailing creativity may have thought of the same idea that your genius mind did (ever hear ‘great minds think alike’?!?).
In either case, the theft of these ideas is leading to a growth in the industry. And I would wager that you yourself have ‘stollen’ an idea or two and with a spark of a stollen idea you may have added your flare/flavor/style to that idea to grow an even bigger/better one. In our industry I think it’s VERY important to find your own voice (as a popular blog post I shared on my facebook page this week said: http://dedpxl.com/essay-i-hate-wedding-photography/) but I think the taking/sharing of ideas is the foundation of creating a well-rounded aesthetic.
I’ve seen this in my own work and that of those in my market too…. A year ago I photographed nearly ALL (99.5%) of my work with off-camera-flash but greatly admired the work of others in my area who worked nearly exclusively in natural light. SO (while I’m still at about 75-80% flash work) I have branched out and work to create at least one or two looks per session using only natural light to create a variety of style for my clients.
Conversely, I taught a class last year to other working professionals in this area on how to shoot with OCF and have seen recent work by some of those natural light photographers using ‘my’ techniques for OCF to create BEAUTIFUL work ‘like mine.’ These techniques aren’t mine and their work is completely their own, I’m happy they found value in what I had to share and have taken those ideas and run with them… often creating work I admire greatly!
So to any photographers who read this, jump in, explore the blog and STEAL away!