Does originality matter any more?
That was the question posed today by a photographer who’s Facebook feed I look in on from time to time. He was lamenting the fact that a picture awarded a first place for “Sports Action” by World Press Photo was an image he considered unoriginal, by virtue of the fact that other photographers had previously taken similar pictures from similar points of view.
Personally, I think it depends, at least partially, on one’s purpose. An artist should aim to be original, so for photographic contests, one can rightfully expect that originality would be part of the criteria.
My work is not particularly original. Although I keep trying to ground my photographic technique and to stretch my artistic eye, I will never be a pace-setter.
Nor am I a trail-blazer. Most of the places I visit are also on other people’s itineraries; they have been seen and documented before. For example, the U-Bein Teak Bridge over Taungthaman Lake, south of Mandalay, has been photographed so often at sunset that it is one of Myanmar’s most iconic images.
That didn’t stop me from wanting to see it and photograph it myself.
I visited the bridge on two successive evenings last September as part of a photographic tour facilitated by photographer Karl Grobl and guide Mr MM. And, my nine travel-companions and myself were not alone in carrying camera equipment. A truly original image might be hard to come by!
“Original” or not, the experience is as important to me as the outcome. I love the travel, and the chance to see places for myself, especially those iconic and oft-visited places that have been photographed many, many times before.
That is good enough for me.Written: 11August2013