Monday, March 16, 2009

emulate first

EMULATE–verb (used with object)

  1. to try to equal or excel; imitate with effort to equal or surpass: to emulate one's father as a concert violinist.
  2. to rival with some degree of success: Some smaller cities now emulate the major capitals in their cultural offerings.
You've heard it said that we have to walk before we crawl. This holds true in so many ways - probably why it is considered a cliché. Sometimes as photographers we need to emulate before we can innovate. Sometimes we have to go out and copy someone else before we can step out on our own and be confident enough to create something unique. Foundational excellence is not derived from coming up with a cool new way of doing photography. Solomon said it best when he said,
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ESV)
Perhaps we should spend less time attempting to come up with a new way of looking at the world and exchange that time for viewing the world as others have seen it. Learn from their mistakes first hand. Put our eyes in their camera. Every serious photographer has a photographer he or she admires or aspires to be. My encouragement to you today is to build your foundation. Find someone who is creating foundationally excellent images and try to copy them. Start by copying a style and soon your own will glean the nuggets of excellence from that photographer. Soon copying will turn in to an influence. If you ever sit down with an older master of any craft they will tell you of people long gone who were instrumental in shaping their style. Who shapes your style? Who influences your images? Important questions ... but how you answer them is up to you.

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