The minute the shiny news proudly dinged it's way into my inbox, my heart sank. A fellow photographer was proudly announcing the launch of a new division of their brand and instead of being happy for them I stared blankly at my computer screen, crushed. That was something IIIIII wanted to do I sulked, allowing myself to wallow in a million feelings of guilt that I hadn't put my ideas to action sooner, annoyance for not 'trying harder' and sheer defeat that someone else made my idea come to life before I could. For some RIDICULOUS reason I found myself in a spiral of thoughts and doubt and had myself convinced I would never get to introduce my bright and exciting new ideas to the world because someone else was already doing it--and if I pushed on and did it too, that I would surely be considered a copycat. It probably doesn't help the world and creative industries perpetuate this ideal as do the people around us in the form of "Bitch stole my look". I've been asked if the recent popularity and trendiness of film among new photographers bothered me and once someone close even questioned if I thought such and such was "copying me". In a profession where new looks and the next great marketing strategies are coveted, it's no wonder everyone wants something fresh and brand spanking-new to call their own. But the truth of the matter is this: nothing is ever original. EVEN IF YOU ARE CONVINCED YOU THOUGHT OF IT FIRST. Often times I find myself testing my ideas in the form of this quote from the movie Inception, "The subject's mind can always trace the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake", analyzing where I got my ideas, but even then the things we do are never ever the only versions out there. Take this instagram photo of mine, for example:
When I took my first image similar to this scene it sprung from a desire to tell the story of a wedding day. Offered beautiful lookouts from high atop Waikiki hotel rooms, I wanted to showcase what a bird's eye view from the bridal suite looked like on a couple's wedding day. I shot these in film, as I drool over the crisp and sharp detail they provide of the minuscule scenes--appreciating every little perched umbrella and paddling surfer. I am drawn to the colors, the scattered elements, the life each corner has. They really embody all that is Waikiki on a beautiful Hawai'ian day, and the vibrancy just pulls my heart that much stronger. Not to mention it reminds me of Where's Waldo, in which I can let me imagination run wild for hours. I began taking these photos out of true inspiration and proudly displayed them as my own works, mentally appointing them my new signature thing. A few weeks later, someone gave me a kind compliment on a similar photo and indadvertedly stated it "reminded them of Gray Malin". I had no idea who the artist was but headed for his website out of curiosity. And damn if my new thing didn't look just like his all the time thing. Days later alongside this instagram photo someone ELSE noted the shot looked a lot like his and I felt the need to defend myself, proclaiming "I swear I didn't knock him off! I thought I thought of it first!" because, well, I did. I just KNEW I did! (And don't even ASK how much my heart went into sad mode when I saw he uses those damn balloons. I swear, I have a Pinterest board now of beach + balloon inspiration before I even saw that. IS HE IN MY BRAIN?!?!?!)
Here's the thing: I didn't knock him off. I had never even studied an image similar to mine that's why I was so proud! But it doesn't matter because someone, SOMEWHERE will ALWAYS do something similar. Been there done that. I mean, haven't you ever seen these historic dopplegangers? It's astounding. After a conversation with my wise and mutuality talkative friend Becca, we discussed business ideas both present and future, and how professionals may have already done them but we should never let that stop us from living our dreams, shooting what we want, and making things happen, regardless. It will always have been done, what matters is how you do it. Because as Rebecca poignantly eased my email induced heartache, she reminded me of the truth: "Build on the eyes God gave YOU...take in and appreciate what others have done without being intimidated or threatened [and know that] at the end of the day it's how you see the world...you have to capture it the way you see it, and that's what sets you apart."
Cann'a getta amen?