What if two photographers.....

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by mark, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. mark

    mark Member

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    I am having an ethical dilemma.

    I got an idea from some henna designs one of my students had on her hands. It instantly hit me that I could reproduce them in paper, back light them and shoot them as abstracts. I have been working on this for a few weeks and then a buddy of mine pointed out this guy's work.

    http://www.photo.net/photodb/member-photos?user_id=644961&include=all

    Now what? I am going to keep up with the project because I think the shots will look really cool. I am bummed that it is not as original as I thought. The concern I have is where do I draw the line. DO I let what this guy control whether I light something in a specific way. Where does the line of plagerism get crossed in photography? I don't want to cross it.

    I am kind of curious what you folks would do if this happened to you.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2004
  2. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    Mark, his work smacks of PS - digital manipulation to me (please correct me if I am wrong). I prefer the uniqueness of a handmade (from start to finish) print. In other words, continue with your project and show how original your idea is when done the analog way. Good luck!
     
  3. mark

    mark Member

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    He is shooting with a digital camera but as far as I can tell there are a lot of plain old straight shots.
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I would continue the project. An idea doesn't have to be original to make it worth photographing; otherwise, I better not take any photos of Diamond Head. As long as you are using his images to setup your shoot; it's only plagerism if you try to pass his work off as yours.
     
  5. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Mark I see no problem with using back lighting as many photographers over the years have done this using a light box, especially with macro shots.

    If the design is original to a known henna artist it might be polite to mention the artist ie "Henna Abstract #01 original design (or inspired) by joe blogg" as with photographs of tattoos.

    As for the project go for it after all very few ideas are 100% original in art and the important thing is how you interpret and shoot the designs for your own pictures. As Robert says as long as you don't try to pass off his work as your own it's not plagiarism.
     
  6. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Personally, I think originality is much overrated (but then, I would)...

    Seriously, it is a pain when you realise someone got there first - especially if his ideas are very close to those you had independently, but there is nothing new under the sun. If we were exclude ourselves from making images where we have seen similar images before, an awful lot of cameras are going to spend an awful lot of time sitting in bags. Ever shot a lighthouse, a landscape, a seascape (complete with foreground rocks and a long exposure to blur the waves (or a fast shutter speed to freeze the waves as they crash over the aforementioned rocks), ever shot a flower, other still-life?

    Although initialy the patterns are striking, I find they have no subtlety, and quickly become trite. Like the dog walking on its hind legs: a neat trick, but ultimately, so what? Apart from the pattern, what is he trying to say? I submit m'Lud, nothing. So, we have pretty patterns. Jolly good. Well done. Thank you. Next please.

    An image based on traditional patterns, now that could be a different kettle of... whatever it is you put in kettles... tea? Not fish surely? - Really? Oh... how odd...


    Good luck! Bob.
     
  7. mark

    mark Member

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    I am not even sure I know how to do that. Not that I would want to.
     
  8. anyte

    anyte Member

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    Your idea may not be as original as you thought, but that doesn't mean your photos will not be original. Forget the other guy. Forget what he's done. Do not allow yourself to be influenced. Reassess your original idea and see what you can do with it. The idea is free for everyone to use - it's only plagarism if you are intentionally copying his exact works.
     
  9. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    So, you're not the first. OK. If that were the case, we should have no more photographs of Yosemite. But now to the real point.

    You started the project. Finish it. The learning exercise here is that you were inspired, established a goal and completed it. That is more important than the image. Completing work on a consistent basis will make you deal with the totality of a project rather than just making some pictures.

    Don't think about it, just do it. Off with you now, finish the work. :D
     
  10. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Member

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    His photos are not the first of that type that I have seen. I friend of mine sent me a link to another photographers work like this about a year ago. I can't remember who it was though.
     
  11. donna-marie

    donna-marie Member

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    I am confused . . . I expected to see backlit henna designs. All I saw was . . . backlit. Maybe I missed something.

    I was happily shooting portraits until one day I realized that lots of folks shoot portraits. Egads!! What to do??? Well . . . I decided to carry on. I have even photographed people who had been previously photographed by another photographer. I mean the exact same face! As it turns out the photos were not the same despite having the same subject.

    :wink:
     
  12. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I should have said "As long as you are NOT using his images to setup your shoot.". In other words, you are not trying to make an exact duplicate of his work.

    I would suggest that sometimes seeing someone else's work just inspires our own creative juices. For example, a few weeks ago I bought a book of Black & White photographs of the Ka Iwi coast - the windward side of Oahu facing Molokai - not because I liked the photos, they were not very good, but because I am interested in photographing the same area myself.
     
  13. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Big effin' deal. Go on ahead. Such shots are not only are reminiscent of the late 70's, but even the 1930's constructivist movement. Just go ahead and make what you do your own -- don't worry about hewing too close (or too far) from someone else's superficial similarities.

    KB
     
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  15. djklmnop

    djklmnop Member

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    To the untrained eye, his work may seem marvelous. There are way too many inconsistant shadings for the given lighting on each image. You can also tell that he burns down the highlights and tries to make it look more pleasing by blurring them.

    I commend him at being a great Photoshopper, but his images don't tell me much about his photography.
     
  16. 25asa

    25asa Member

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    Myth #6
    The it-has-been-done-before syndrome.
    See "on being a photographer"
    David Hurn/Magnum
    in conversation with Bill Jay
    Lenswork publishing 1997
    2nd edition page 89
    www.lenswork.com
     
  17. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Mark,
    Go for it. Keep developing your ideas as you see them.
    Good luck.

    gene
     
  18. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks folks.
     
  19. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    These images are very similar to a lot of commercial work I've seen in the past. Some of the old masters of photography like Steichen, Outerbridge, Bernhard, etc., have all done similar things as have many contemporary photographers.

    Don't let the fact that your idea is similar to others stop you from pursuing your vision. After all, "great minds think alike."

    Joe
     
  20. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Donna-marie,

    You plageristic slut. How dare you.


    As I've said before, everything (almost) has been done before. We build upon what has come before. We imitate what we love. Humans are great imitators.
    There are very few originals in this world and they are usually so screwed up that no one cares about them anyway.


    Just my always humble opinion,


    Michael
     
  21. rakuhito

    rakuhito Member

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    originality is overrated - it gives salesmen, historians and lawyers something to do. besides 99% of everything isn't original and the other 1% is totally derivative.

    perhaps a more useful inquirey might be: "how can i do it better?"
     
  22. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Most of these would make great wallpaper for the New Bauhaus Retirement Home.

    If Joyce Tenneson can get away with a shamelessly derivative project like Wise Women, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0821228013/102-1934259-6804135?v=glance, I wouldn't worry about aping this guy for a second.
     
  23. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    Mark,
    Thanks for the idea... I think I'll try it myself. (kidding)

    In this society, it seems like whomever becomes famous first is the originator of the idea (unless someone else had a copyright or patent).
     
  24. donna-marie

    donna-marie Member

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    I know. I am shamed. Yet I continue. I feel sick . . . a little.
     
  25. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Hmmm? Sorry? Wassat?

    You mean, every time we click the shutter it has to be a completely original idea?!

    OH MY GOD! FILM IS DOOMED!

    THERE WILL BE MAYBE THREE EXPOSURES A YEAR! TOPS! NEVER MIND ILFORD! KODAK AND FUJI WILL COLLAPSE IN RUINS! ALL PHOTOGRAPHIC ACTIVITY AS WE KNOW IT WILL CEASE!

    NURSE, NURSE, MY MEDICATION!

    Ahhhhh... That's better. Back to my derivative claptrap. Where's that waterfall project of mine up to?

    Regards,

    Frank (plagiaristic slut to the masses!)
     
  26. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    Are you sure the page we were directed to wasn't a xerox from a stock photography catalog?