Imitation is the highest form of flattery.
I say it’s inspiration.
Imitation is taking something that is someone else’s and trying to replicate it. It’s recreating not creating. Inspiration is being moved to act—to create—based upon something you see in someone else’s work.
I once posed a question on Twitter:
What do you think is THE greatest compliment?
The responses from people and the question itself got me thinking about it. I realized that, for me, the ultimate compliment is being an inspiration. When you are an inspiration, you impact someone in a way that makes them choose to do something differently. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
I don’t have to look far for inspiration, particularly when it comes to photography. In the last year or so, I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to get to know some amazing photographers in the DC area. Their images are distinctive and creative and also show us how they perceive the world around them and see art in what they capture.
I wanted to share with you a little about some of the photographers who have inspired me.
Greg Schmigel is a phenomenal street photographer who shoots solely with his iPhone and also in black and white. He captures a moment in a stranger’s life and makes it timeless through his photography. There’s just something about his photos that draws you in, and often makes you stop and think...and maybe even laugh. One of my favorite things he does is cleverly compose shots to include a person juxtaposed with an advertisement or words on a sign around them that results in some sort of irony or humor.
At the iPhoneography workshop at Hillyer Art Space last week, Greg talked a bit about his approach to street photography. He mentioned the concept of “zooming with your feet.” You want to zoom in? MOVE closer. I’ve seen him apply this in person, moving wherever he needs to be to get the shot. Greg inspires me to look closely when I’m walking around the city and to not be afraid to even follow someone and get closer in order to get a better shot. Wait, that’s not as creepy as it might sound. ;-)
Michael Andrade is a photographer and beyond that, I’d say an iPhone artist. He has a very unique way of processing images to create incredible art. If someone even tried to imitate his work, I would tell them good luck. In the “Have fun storming the castle” kind of way, if you know what I mean. ;-)
One of the first things I noticed about Michael's shots was how he would incorporate the look and feel of a painting. And it would be done seamlessly. He put his own spin on street photography, and creates impressive images that are clearly his.
Michael has graciously shared a few of his secrets with me (sort of), and inspired me to explore ways of turning my photographs into a different form of art.
Emily Reid has a fantastic eye for architecture. I remember one of the first images of hers I saw on Instagram and loving how she had created beautiful abstract art using the architecture of a building. I’ve always been a sucker for lines, reflections and architecture in general. Emily has her own unique way of seeing and adapting these. One of my first abstracts I ever created was inspired by her work.
Now Emily isn't limited to just pictures of buildings, mind you. She’s been taking some killer street shots lately too. She's able to adapt what makes her photos of buildings so great and apply it in a different realm of photography.
Patrick Onofre is another photographer who not only takes amazing photographs, but can also create true art using just his iPhone. He creates by destruction, obliterating a photograph—thereby creating a piece of abstract art.
Patrick finds ways to take something seemingly ordinary and turn it into something more. And something you can't quite figure out. I love that I often cannot decipher what the original image would have been. He reminds me of my old saying that the ordinary is only so because of the eyes with which we see. And he inspires me to make sure my eyes don’t miss shots that could be transformed into art.
He doesn't just use apps to do something different with photography though. He also taught me about the rolling shutter technique. You can see one of my shots below and some of his on Flickr.
So that's just a little bit about a few of my inspirations in photography. I thought of more as I worked on this post, but decided I might just have to revisit this soon to really do each influence justice. So stay tuned...
And here are some images I created inspired by the photographers above...