Finding your way in an ocean of everyone looking the same

Alberta prairie

I hope to always be growing. I hope to be forever changing the way my photos look. I hope that I stand apart from the crowd for better or worse.

I belong to a couple of different photo sharing websites, 500px.com and flickr.com. For me they are a convenient way to see where the world of photography is headed. One of my habits is to view the landscape section of 500px and click on the tag “popular”. What I often see are pages of the very same picture taken in different places around the world. It is almost as if the same photographer were taking all the photos. It is the sameness that ruins it for me. Art whether it be photography, music or painting is about self expression.

Why is it then that 500px and even flickr have more photos that look more alike than different? Is it monkey see, monkey do?

There is a famous landscape photographer that now has photo tours throughout North America. I used to love his work because it was different from the norm. He recently held a winter photo tour in Jasper and Banff National Parks. The results always interest me because I am curious to see how someone else sees the same landscape that I travel through.

The surprising thing from this past winters tour was the photos that his clients had posted on 500px. It was disappointing. It was disappointing because these obviously talented clients had taken photos that were indistinguishable from his from the perspective to the processing. Like I said, disappointed.

Photography for me always has been about searching and pushing the limits of what I see. I too can be a clone of one of the world’s most famous photographers, it isn’t difficult to copy what you see at least after all these years of taking photos it isn’t. There is no challenge in that. The challenge is in trying to find your way in the ocean of sameness that is digital photography.

There is an almost borg like mentality with photos being so accessible on the internet. Good and bad. More bad I sometimes think than good.

Spring is here in central Alberta and instead of waiting until things green up I have found a new challenge. The bare fields and spring skies that surround where I live present opportunities missed in previous years.

I will still continue to shoot colour but I am drawn more and more into this other way of seeing. For better or worse. For richer or poorer (meaning not shooting stock photos anymore because I don’t see a market for these photos).

A simple prairie photo. A new direction for me.

Happy shooting,

Dan

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~ by Dan Jurak on April 19, 2015.

3 Responses to “Finding your way in an ocean of everyone looking the same”

  1. I love the simplicity of this image yet it is visually stunning and powerful. You have a point Dan. In the mid seventies when I attended photography at college we already noticed how price winning photographs in major contests were copied the next year by dozens.
    Today we are overloaded with images so I think it is harder to be original in one’s art. I love to use Michael Kenna as an example. His work is very distinct but every day I see variations/copies of his work on, for example, Facebook. One could ask in such a case where copying ends and something new emerges.
    I think there is much more about it than a simple monkey see, monkey do. Maybe it is also about trying to ride the same wave of success as the one that is copied or lack of imagination? Laziness?
    Anyway I enjoyed reading your post and it made me think. It is with pleasure that I am reblogging this.

  2. Reblogged this on The Film Diaries and commented:
    You have a point Dan. In the mid seventies when I attended photography at college we already noticed how price winning photographs in major contests were copied the next year by dozens.
    Today we are overloaded with images so I think it is harder to be original in one’s art. I love to use Michael Kenna as an example. His work is very distinct but every day I see variations/copies of his work on, for example, Facebook. One could ask in such a case where copying ends and something new emerges.
    I think there is much more about it than a simple monkey see, monkey do. Maybe it is also about trying to ride the same wave of success as the one that is copied or lack of imagination? Laziness?
    Anyway I enjoyed reading your post and it made me think.

  3. @ Stephen, copying has it’s place while learning. After that?

    I agree with everything you say. I have always said that it was easier for me to shoot like someone else successfully rather than risk it and venture out in my own direction. Now is that time. Boredom has gotten the better of me and it is time to be challenged.

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