Ask Anything – Copying Other Artists

- - Ask Anything

Former Art Buyers and current photography consultants Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease have agreed to take anonymous questions from photographers and not only give their expert advice but put it out to a wide range of photographers, reps and art buyers to gather a variety of opinions. The goal with this column is to solicit honest questions and answers through anonymity.

Someone emailed this link:

http://www.cjlane.net/news/?p=69#more-69

and noted that it’s a very close resemblance to the French photographer’s series:

http://www.denis-darzacq.com/la_chute/index.html

Which caused quite a stir a few years ago (it’s currently being shown in major art galleries in the US). The person who emailed us wrote: “It is of course quite possible that two like minded people come up with a similar idea at the same time, or within a recent time frame, but surely as an informed practitioner, you have a responsibility to do your research or at least credit the inspiration in some manner. Perhaps I’m being pathetic.”

Amanda and Suzanne:

Which came first the chicken or the egg?  In this case we could say Sam Taylor-Wood. But who inspired Sam – Barbara Morgan (with an urban twist)?  The links could be endless (as Michael Grecco points out below).  Chris, Sam & Denis have all done work similar and all have made a success out of it.

We have both experienced copyright issues in our day of art buying and see it everyday in consulting. Example: An Art Director comes up with a concept and the photographer is hired to do the job – sometimes not aware of the original swipe or where it came from. I (Amanda) once had a job go through my department and the art buyer didn’t see the final until right before traffic/production was about to release the image – it was so identical to the comp (which was swiped) we ended up offering $30k to the photographer our AD swiped it from to be able to take it to print – it was that much of a copyright infringement.

So we asked Michael Grecco for his opinion on this matter.

Photographer Michael Grecco

For me, this issue brings up many visceral thoughts and emotions because not only am I a fan of the underlying images, but also know some of the photographers (other than Chris) who created them. The ads show a hooded figure jumping in a very industrial setting wearing jeans, sweats, and CAT Earthmovers Footwear.

I write this from two perspectives: one, how far should an artist go when mimicking, or borrowing ideas from other artists. Ultimately what is their responsibility to make an idea their own. Two, what is the responsibility of art directors and creative directors in educating their clients about a comp, and how it should be used to begin the creative process, not conclude it.

I would like to first look at the origin of the idea of jumping in photographs since that is the concept of the images and put it in a modern context. As a photographer, we all look for inspiration in everything around us, including other images by other shooters. As a kid, I was always a fan of the work of Philipe Halsman and his series of jumping portraits. Halsman himself (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippe_Halsman) had a fascinating life and was a regular contributor to Life Magazine. I first came across his work as a kid, when I used to take out the Time Life books on photography as a long term “loan.” His work was prominent, and impressive, leaving a lasting impression on my subconscious. He is best known for the image of Salvador Dali jumping with water traveling through the frame and a cat flying through the air.

As an artist, though, when we get inspiration we have to then make it our own. I will borrow a seed of an idea, and then see where that creative road takes me. If I am shooting for a client, hopefully I have the room to take the image to a very personal place, a place that would be my work, and not that of the borrowed image. This should happen naturally, the pull of your own vision influences you to make “taste” decisions when creating an image that should in theory transcend the underlying image, no matter how good it is. The artist should be chosen for that reason, they should bring something more to the project, otherwise hire the original artist of the work or if they are dead, make it an homage.

Collection examples:

Google Image Search: Halsman Jumping Images

Famous Dali Atomicus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Salvador_Dali_A_%28Dali_Atomicus%29_09633u.jpg

This leads me to the trail of creativity that created the CAT ads. In each case, each artist has put their “physic” perspective and artistic touches to these concepts. The modern seed for this idea is the work of Sam Taylor Woods, a British artist, who has taken the idea of jumping and made it personal, literally. She shoots self portraits of herself floating through space, separated from the Earth, She calls the series “Suspended.” The images evoke a sense of freedom, of life and death and weightlessness. There is an ephemeral quality I can only believe is inspired by the artists’ experience surviving two bouts of cancer.

Google Image Search: Sam Taylor Woods

The next set of images I feel are a variation and an interpretation of Sam’s conceptual theme. Let me add here that themes or concepts cannot be copyrighted; only the execution of the concept is the subject of legal protection. Concepts themselves are free to live in the world for people to make their own.  It is their execution, in legal terms the “look and the feel” of the images that is the subject of protection legally. The artist that created this next set of images has inspired me for years. I first saw her work in an “alt” magazine many years ago and she has continued to produce great images. I have had the pleasure of breaking bread with Julia Fullerton Batton and her husband Kelvin who is also a photographer, in Arles, France.

Julia’s images deal with issues of isolation and alienation. Many of her subjects are teenage girls, relating to the slightly overly polished or greatly bizarre world around them. She has taken this seed of an idea, flying or jumping, and has now used that in her repertoire to fortify her underlying thesis of the world. In her series called “In Between,” she borrowed a general concept and made it her own. In my opinion, you cannot call these images the same from an artistic perspective (or a legal perspective). They exist as a consistent component of Julia’s body of work that delves into the psychological and socioeconomic world of her subjects.

Images provided by http://www.juliafullerton-batten.com

Julia Fullerton Batten

jfb2

The last inspiration of mine is a journalistic one. Denis Darzaqu, the French photographer, spent time photographing French Hip Hop dancers in an amazing series called La Chute. The images won a World Press award and were included in the catalog, where I first saw them. I was immediately in love with the jarring flight he had created. Even though they could be viewed as a journalistic document, I also saw them as an original and artistic work of art that was emotionally inspired. My feeling for these images was strong enough to hunt Denis down in Arles to let him just how much I liked the work. They are stunning and I believe they are the true inspiration for the CAT ads. In fact they are so close in look, feel and concept to the ads that I can only think, why did the agency or CAT Earthmover not hire Denis Daraqu to shoot these ads? It stuns me!

Images provided by: http://www.denis-darzacq.com/

dd1

dd2

Having shot for many years myself, I know how these things usually happen: the comp proposed by the design firm or ad agency gets the client stuck on exactly the image they see. How the style of the comp has changed over the years has been interesting. To sell ideas and ultimately get clients, pitches now include literal photographic images instead of the line drawings that agencies used to do when making a pitch. It’s a competitive world out there pitching visual ideas to corporate number pushers that might not understand the vision of the agency pitch. To ensure that the client gets and loves the idea and then hires the agency, art directors are forgoing drawings for stock, for “swipe” photographic images.

In Hollywood, this practice is rampant. At the top, Hollywood is a culture of sequel movies and TV shows, remakes, and spin offs. This has transcended into the ad agencies that create the campaigns for the studios and networks, and they “borrow” feverishly. Ideas are often derived from a recently spied coffee table book or magazine feature that has inspired an Art Director or Creative Director. Then they create a campaign around the creative work of others. Creative theft might not be as blatant as that though. The images borrowed might just be for the purposes of bringing the client closer to the agencies vision. After all, why use a crappy line drawing when you can use a photograph?

OK, here’s why: because if you put in a particular image into the comp, that’s exactly what you are going to get, that image. Then it becomes plagiarism; you are intentionally trying to match the execution. It never gets expounded upon and it never becomes the vision of the artist you’ve hired. The client will almost always get stuck on the image you put in the comp. It’s corporate culture. I can hear the executive from marketing now, “if it has been approved by the president, that’s exactly what we have to get from the shoot or I’ll get fired!!!”

I’ve had this happen countless times and have had many conversations with my clients about it. If they are stuck on the image in the comp, I will insist they license it from the photographer that shot the original image, in addition to licensing my image. After all, we are now copying the execution of an image by another artist, the “look and feel” in legal terms. Remember, concepts are not copyrightable, only executions are. Wondering if Denis got paid for his inspiration, I contacted him. He told me that CAT originally asked him to shoot the job, but that they could not agree on a price.

I think the agency “painted themselves into a corner” by building a campaign around another artists work and then having the client not wanting to pay the photographer’s price. I believe that the responsibility of the creatives at the very beginning, going into a pitch, is to make sure that the original artist will get some sort of fee for the “inspiration,” if the client chooses not to use them, for whatever reason. This way all parties get the consideration due them.

The other solution is for creatives to think strategically about what comps the client sees and gets to keep after a pitch meeting. Depending on how literally the client perceives the visuals, their direct literal interpretation of the comp can hinder the ultimate creative process by not allowing the chosen photographer to do his or her creative best.  Or, even worse it can result in plagiarizing the work of another.

-Michael Grecco

Amanda and Suzanne, To Summarize: The world of art would not exist if we had nothing to look at.  We copy art all the time. It’s how the world revolves.  Art inspires more art.  But at a certain point you have to decide to make authentic art off of inspiration and not copy inspirational art. Is there anything really original?  We all can look at trends and we all follow them – example the Gap ads of early 2000 with the flare – it felt as though every photographer’s portfolio for 2 years after those ads had done it (and we still see it today).  The over “REAL” post look of 2008 (which is still going strong – example the current Hidden Valley Ranch ads). How many times have you seen Venus redone?  Art Directors use art sometimes to be inspired or mock up ads – which we call Swiping (and it’s come to be an acceptable process in art direction)– and it will continue to happen – it’s part of the process.  Just be smart about how you shoot, what you shoot and do your research.  But also remember that when creating ads it’s not only your responsibility, but also the responsibility of the art director and agency who is guiding you.

Call To Action: Be inspired and Be authentically yourself.  When you receive a comp, research your comp and find a way to push the envelope with your own creative twist.

Here’s yet another example of copying to check out: http://thomasallenonline.com/2010/03/02/theft/

If you want more insight from Amanda and Suzanne you can contact them directly (here and here) or tune in once a week or so for more of “Ask Anything.”

There Are 38 Comments On This Article.

  1. Photographs are the visual manifestation of memes. Memes are lifeforms that use humans, especially photographers, as mediums. It’s only a human’s ego that believes that there is propriety in the meme.

    In other words, the idea was NEVER YOURS. the idea uses you to become manifest. If it can’t use you, it will find someone else.

  2. All About Style

    Isn’t this where personal style comes into play? It’s impossible to say who originated anything. And it’s not realistic to declare any idea to be off limits to everyone else. Everything is derivative.

    I watched an interview with Elvis Costello on his Sundance Channel show “Elvis Costello With…” where, in reflecting on his career, he said he did such a bad job of imitating other artists that his own style emerged. Ain’t that the truth?

    Unless you can add something unique to any classic idea, you’re basically a hack. If you can make everyone forget a concept has been done before, then you’re a genius.

  3. Ideas often have a “take off” point (no pun intended) at which time these are inserted into the community as a meme. If the point (or identity) of insertion is hip, has great influence or access, it often drives the meme further.

    The first time I recall seeing this meme (jumping or taking off) was the work of Philippe Halsman, the Dali image and several others.

    The next time I recall seeing it was in Black Book magazine in the year 2000, or 2001. John Clang did a fashion spread called, “Take off”. Some images can be seen here: http://www.thecollectiveshift.com/show/portfolio/Clang

    (I saw personal unpublished work by John with that meme right after he moved to NYC, about 1999).

    John was new hot, getting a lot of press. If I recall the “Take off” piece may have been in the CA annual awards, and I believe it was in the second PDN 30 contest.

    Right after that another meme John used took off as well. Splashing water in faces. Again this was not John’s outright creation, but he had the inertia at that moment. The splashing water was published in I believe Surface mag in about 2002/2003. We’ve seen countless repeats from others using milk, paint, water, etc.

    Blackbook, Surface, CA all have or had great cultural influence to help drive memes.

  4. Second note – Clang also used a meme with people laying around in urban environments. I’d seen the idea used before his was published, but saw it much more afterward by other artists such as Julia Fullerton-Batten. This was published in CA, possibly Black Book or Surface, and used later to advertise jeans.

  5. Both the Lane and the Darzacq images are heavily indebted to Yves Klein’s very famous conceptual artwork “Un Homme dans l’espace! Le peintre de l’espace se jette dans le vide!” from 1960. Which is the ninth image at http://www.yveskleinarchives.org/works/works13_us.html and at http://www.menil.org/exhibitions/LeapsintotheVoid.php

    In the USA it is more commonly known as Klein’s “Leap Into The Void”.

    Klein had a black belt in judo and knew how to fall, but the photo is actually a montage –two photos were combined –created as a collaboration between Klein and Photographer Harry Shunk as detailed here:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article690937.ece

    Beyond these all being photographic images of bodies falling in close proximity to the ground , there is the confidence expressed in the person’s body language.

    • @Daniel Plainview, I love these images. Falling has been a common these for a long time in Photography. I made a post about this Common Theme a few years ago:

      http://www.harlanerskine.com/blog/2007/07/common-themes-falling-in-contempory.html

      I don’t think these are really quite close enough to say there is a copying thing going on. There are cases where the theme’s closeness is more worrisome. There is no way to copyright someone falling. especially since the ideas and concept are different in each work.

      There is also a big difference between commercial work and art. There is a different expectation of originality in art. I’m not putting commercial work down but for art to be art the idea really needs to be held to a higher standard of originality.

  6. Interesting article – thanks to all involved.

    I work for an Image library (IT side) and this now puts a different spin on when clients call up asking for non-watermarked comps.

    Michael says :
    “If they are stuck on the image in the comp, I will insist they license it from the photographer that shot the original image, in addition to licensing my image”

    With the market as it is – I wonder how many hard working bread-line photographers will push the point…? If you KNOW that you’re copying someone elses work by direction – at what point do you walk away/refuse ? (if any) Is it your responsibility or that of the art director/agency/customer ?

    • @Daf,

      I’ve worked on countless shoots assisting a photographer where the art/photo or fashion editor comes on set with “inspires” from other magazines, but the reality is they (already in a meeting before the shoot with the photographer obviously) ask the photographer if they can do what’s in that photo.

      That is why a few years ago you saw at least one editorial with the magenta/cyan mixed light on the side of a model for a season. And then the bright “spot” of light behind the model on a seamless. Then my fav because I had been working on it for a year and then it popped up everywhere the “hard spot” from a theater lens light right on the model with the almost perfect circle on backdrop.

      Direct copying happens all the time with lighting and composition in commerical work. I knew someone who’s work was literally used as the mock up on set for work they pitched to a company they had worked with before and this company went with a “A-list” photographer for the actual shoot and used this other photographer’s spec pitch right on set to match the lighting.

      • “That is why a few years ago you saw at least one editorial with the magenta/cyan mixed light on the side of a model for a season.”

        Was meant to be written:

        That is why a few years ago you saw at least one editorial IN MOST FASHION MAGAZINES with the magenta/cyan mixed light on the sides of a model for a season.

      • @christopherlovenguth,

        ha, and the fashion scene (hierarchy) is just such a darn original establishment to begin with :)

  7. Matthew Brush

    Great post! Questions to Amanda / Suzanne:

    Is it just me, or is this the same thing that happens to great musicians.
    First the music comes out, they then get a following of folks who appreciate the art for it’s creativity and originality. A few years later the music gets much praise, but yet is still off the radar of “mainstream”, to where 1/30 people on the street wouldn’t even know the artist, yet the music world is already waiting for their 3rd album. Popularity takes over, people in the AD world soon take notice, and the next time the song is played is on some 30 second spot for a car most people who listen to THAT music wouldn’t ever own.

    The result: The artist now has some decent coin in their pocket, but at the same time their art has lost it’s potency or true meaning. Sometimes even to the point of ruining it for others as well. Some people would simply call them or their art “sellouts”. It’s now an uphill battle typically for the artist rather than the agency who made it happen and seem like the right thing to do.

    As artists, we can’t always be on the pulse of everything in our world, otherwise we wouldn’t have any time to go out and create our own. And of course we need to make a living, so we have to trust and hope that the ideas and concepts that we are given are original and that we won’t get “thrown under the bus”.

    So now we have some CAT ads that look really cool, but are 90/95% of someone else’s work. Who has the uphill battle now for pulling the trigger? The agency/producer that allowed the ad? Or is it the photographer getting coined into the term “copycat”, or in my reference to the music biz, “sellout”?

    I could be wrong, but in my mind I tend to think that even the creatives at the agencies that are getting paid big bucks to put these concepts out to their clients and actually get them produced at the potential risk of HURTING the artists career are just simply in the know too late.

    I guess that’s why we still see images of the 2007/08 over sharpened/desaturated grunge look still being produced and used for big brands because they were told it was the “in thing” or the “current look”, where in actuality it’s just the fact that the creatives pitching it are the ones that caught on too late.

    There’s no one to directly point the finger at, but I guess my point is to “be in the know”. As a photographer / Art Director / Musician / Producer, you name it. Don’t grab onto trends late.

    In this case, who do you think will take the hit more? The Artist or the Agency?

    • @Ry,
      I’d love to see “inspiration fee” on a client invoice.
      Here ya go account guy, good luck.
      Ha!

      • @Art Buyer,

        When I was represented by CMP I was once paid “for inspiration”.

        An agency saw a series in my book that they liked, thought that it would be a good fit for a client of theirs and inquired if it was available as stock. I had shot the series as a creative for my book and had not licensed it to anyone at that time so my agent sent the whole shoot to them to review. They “loved” it but didn’t think there was enough there for their needs and asked us to quote on re-shooting the series with additional creative direction/scenarios from the agency. We went back and forth with the agency over the quote. They wanted to build this shoot into a monster. It went from me shooting a couple of rolls of film, a kid, a park and a couple of hours (my original shoot) to quoting on multiple countries, motor homes, stunt doubles etc. etc., we were up to close to $150,000 and almost $90,000 was in expenses. During a conference call with the agency I kindly told them that they were veering wildly away from the spirit of my creative, that they and their client “loved”, and that it would quite easily be lost in the over production that they were dead set on doing.

        I like money. A lot. I don’t like crazy making and I call it like I see it. The agency told us pretty plainly that they didn’t think that I “could pull it off” and they were going to go with another shooter.

        My agent at that time, Randi Fiat (long time, I hope you are well) replied, “frankly, He already HAS pulled it off and if you are going to shoot THIS campaign with another shooter then we have to be compensated for the creative.” And we were, quite well in fact.

        About 8 years later I was hired by another agency to shoot a campaign and one of the “swipes” that they showed me was funnily enough was one of the shots that the other shooter had re-done of my original shoot. I told the AD this story, about how I was now being paid to rip-off myself and he just stared at me blankly. It was then that I fully grasped that the AD’s and CD’s think that they ARE being creative when they comp/swipe/steal.

        It is really sad about the CAT knock-off. I went to the show a few weeks ago with my assistant when we had a weekend off and bought a couple of signed books. I shoot for a living but I also, still, love photography and Darzacq’s show was jaw dropping stunning.

        • @Victor John Penner,
          Good move on your agent’s part to ask for compensation. At that point it might not have been something the agency was considering and you knew they had a healthy budget to work with. This whole issue can be such a mess and it’s kinda sad to see creatives and photographers being accused of stealing styles and ideas. It’s difficult to come up with fresh ideas and it’s tempting to not imitate something that has been successful for someone else. Hopefully you can put your own spin on it. Let’s say I wanted to do a “tilt shift” campaign, who do I pay for inspiration? The first photographer who comes up in a google image search? What if I use “Bokeh” or “animals on white seamless” someone is bound to call foul. Creatives and art buyers are often put in the position of loving a photographer’s style or a campaign and not being able to work with that person. There is a lot of pressure to still produce that work and more than likely another photographer who shoots in a similar style or has done a campaign in that manner. As an art buyer, I don’t see every campaign ever produced and I don’t always know where the creatives get their ideas. We must always do our best to not copy someone blatantly (if we know better) or risk copyright infringement. But it’s hard to do something completely original, even if I just throw my camera in the air, I bet someone has already done it.

          • @art buyer,

            Well said, it IS hard to do something completely original and I wonder if it is even possible at this point. We have to strive to be honest and I cheer the innovators.

          • @art buyer,

            “This whole issue can be such a mess and it’s kinda sad to see creatives and photographers being accused of stealing styles and ideas. It’s difficult to come up with fresh ideas and it’s tempting to not imitate something that has been successful for someone else.”

            If the shoe fits….
            This is the role of the professional. If that “imitation” is done too well, the creative can pay for it with copyright infringement settlements – along with any other fallout.

            It seems the myth of legendary ADs who create remarkable concepts on their own has been on the wane for some time. Even before the internet, SOP was to call in 20+ books *before the concept was created*. This was often done with printed stock catalogs and source books too (workbook, blackbook, etc). Now it’s that much easier with wired content. Coming up with ideas for many is a fishing expedition -borrowing the creative works of others.

            I believe you are minimizing the value of creative content in your argument.
            “Tilt shift” & “bokeh” are technical aspects of lenses/cameras. These were used before advertising with photography was a regular standard. White seamless is also just tech.
            If a creatives entire communication is based only on these technical aspects of image making there is a problem from the start.

            • @Bob, sorry you misunderstood me. I go out of my way to make sure images are not copied from other photographers or stock sources. I AM the copyright police, it’s part of my job to protect the agency and the client from lawsuits of misuse. My referencing of the use of “technical aspects of cameras” are not immune from cries of theft, in fact, I’d say people are just as defensive about their lighting styles and imaging techniques. I’ve seen photogs on Flickr declare that bokeh was their idea and look. But I can still list any number of ideas that get played out in fine art and advertising photography that have numerous similarities. Who did it first is like accusing the Egyptian tomb painters of ripping off the cave painters in France. There are many talented AD’s, many of which have original ideas but to pretend that the massive amount of ads that get produced every year are all completely original and have never been thought of or done before is ignorant.

        • Amanda and Suzanne

          @Victor John Penner, Thanks for sharing this – it was a nice follow up to this article and goes to show you it is possible to ask for what you are WORTH.

  8. Really insightful discussion. It is definitely one thing to be inspired. It is wholly different to outright steal someone’s idea. The problem, evident in this discussion is when the line blurs. I think much of this can be overcome by using good judgment, but unfortunately, it seems like many of us aren’t blessed with that ability! hahaha.

  9. Interesting article and the input from Michael Grecco is inspiring. I have come across these kind of questions before.

    A few years ago in the studio I had about a few minutes left with a model and got her to do a few jumping shots ( she had realy long hair so that was originally what I was after but she jumped with such enthusiasm I decided to go for full length shots and then later in post realized how effective turning this into a flying image could be. That shot had gone on to be one of my most talked about images online.

    Then a model I was planing on working with must have shown another photographer the shot ( after she had commented on it) and together they have made an almost identical (and, frankly a technically inferior) version.

    Influenced work is fine but there is a line where it becomes a complete copy. I think at the end of the day the only person who can be 100% sure if it was a copy or another person with an identical idea will be the photographer. Still… would be nice to think there was still some professional courtesy out there….

  10. Michael, Amanda, and Suzanne thank you for your time and sharing. There are some that see this as a real hot-button issue and this may help them resolve it maybe not….

    I think that artist influences are always present no matter how hard you try to be your own. I think when the Photog recreates without using his/her voice and duplicate the original too closely then that is just laziness and gets them in trouble via plagiarism. JMHO

  11. These gray areas are complex, sometimes messy, and thought-provoking. Michael, thanks for your superb essay. Amanda and Suzanne, your deft guidance is much appreciated.

    • @Peter Duke,

      I “get it” Peter. But how do you know “the meme” is not using people in a different way or perception than it is using you? Possibly contrarily to your theory.

      Quite often I agree with a similar understanding. I perceive it as a collective consciousness. But people often tap in to this *zeitgeist* differently. A study of creativity throughout history would probably show some very brilliant people with ideas that very few if any others had at that time. Was “the meme” selective in who it used by a factor of 1?

      Consider the fact that there are some who really do function with a very different cognitive style. Some may have different hardwiring, or have been socialized differently, some may have healthy issues that differ from others. Van Gogh is an example.

      While I *believe* in this “collective consciousness”, more often I see your theory presented as a sort of apologia for and by those that are influenced (consciously or not) by the already manifested creations of others.

      • @Bob,

        @But how do you know “the meme” is not using people in a different way or perception than it is using you?

        – You don’t!, that *is* the point. The meme is the message, you (the photographer) is just the medium. Electricity flows more easily through some elements than others, it’s measured by impedance (ohm’s law).

        Classic memes are reflected in mythology. Diana/Artemis is the patron of un-wed women. Madonna, Gwen Stefani, and Lady Gaga all rif the themes that are the concern of that demographic… does that mean that “Telephone” is a rip off of “Spiderwebs” or an homage or either or both?

        At the zenith of his career, Richard Avedon broke through to the maxims… “No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative”… by adopting these conventions, the image, ultimately, becomes a reflection of the shooter, no more and no less.

        Avedon understood, better than most, that good photographs resonate, and that resonance is the thing that separates the great from the rest.

        In the last couple of years, I’ve shot several hundred portraits in the style of “American West” (black & white) or “United Colors of Benetton” (color), but I don’t see it so much as copying Avedon or Toscani, more like finding Peter Duke… The world is filled with hacks and copycats and I don’t apologize for any of them (Flick makes a lot of money on them, though)… I feel sorry that they seem to be struggling to find “themselves”, if that is, indeed, what they are doing.

        That’s the point of the white-paper exercise. Toscani even uses it as curriculum at his La Sterpaia Art Academy… http://www.flickr.com/photos/lasterpaia/sets/

        I used to catch Herb Ritts at Book Soup, on Sunset Blvd. looking for ideas for his latest campaigns, does that make his pictures any less great?

        • @Peter Duke,

          I was trying to use humour and irony. but it seems to have not registered. I’ll be blunt. Is it possible you’re wrong? That your ideas about the “meme” are just part of your own ‘Egocentric predicament’? Even if it does have application in some (but not all) situations.

          • @Bob,

            Ahhh, the involution paradox… je ne sais pas… (cutting to the ad hominem argument does take some of the fun away, though…) We should probably argue in person sometime, it’d be good IP!

  12. My work is influenced by so many photographers, on many levels from creating a set, lighting choice, subject matter, or effect, especially if their work resonates with my visual tastes. I do however, try to create work which is distinctively identifiable to my own style. I want someone to walk into a gallery and know that it is the work of Debra Frieden. I am still on the path to realize this achievement. It is certainly difficult to establish something so stylistic as to separate yourself from the worldwide collective photographers who are in constant creation mode. I remain passionate about getting there………however long it takes.

  13. Does anyone own a jack lalanne tiger juicer? any feed back u can give will be great!! it differs from the power juicer, but i can not seem to find any info on it.