Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Flattery will kill it DEAD

Recently, there has been much discussion about where the line is drawn, if there even is one, between appropriating or copying another artists work.

Many art teachers will tell you art is simply adapting and refining past art. But what's the difference between refining and copying? This particular discussion can go on endlessly, and it isn't the point to this post.

I've actually had my work "refined". It's an irksome feeling, especially when you're work is much better.

This is the final image I turned in for a project, about 2 semester ago. Literally the next project, a classmate turned an image identical to the composition and style of mine, simply a different subject matter. I walked into the class and my friend simply said "Wait till you see Bob's..." I wasn't too impressed with the image. When I had done mine, the critiques were overwhelmingly positive. And the reinterpretation, I felt diminished my work.

But that's just my personal experience with the subject. Another issue with "refining" is that the more it's done, the less powerful the images become. "Imitation is the highest form of flattery". Well flatter a style of work enough make it cheap and unoriginal. The revision of Barbara Krugers work above is pretty much the point.

I've recently gotten into the work of Terry Richardson. I'd seen his work before and loved it, but it's only been recently, this week actually, that I've been able to put a name to the art. His style is simple. Shooting portraits on a bare background with only a hot shoe flash on his camera. He is also Lady Gaga's photographer.

(Check out the Barbara Kruger shirt)

And the man himself,
Terry Richardson

What becomes dangerous with work like this, is that assumptions are made that it's easy. This idea can actually be applied to every style of photography; hence the Walmart Picture Studio and "photographers" running a business from home. Soon, people who think Instagram makes them photographers will be taking a crack at Terry's style. 

The best analogy I can come up with for what happens is via music. When a new song comes out, we put it on repeat and hear it over and over on the radio. We listen to it so much that the song is ruined and becomes awful.  The same thing happens with styles of photographers, it's done so much that people lose appreciation for the original artists work.

And this isn't to say you can't be inspired by Terry Richardson or me or any other photographer or artist. But make it your own.

Until next time...
(don't forget to like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/erinbeephoto ) 

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