Vice.com recently published a think piece on whether LA based photographer Tyler Shields' photographs are imitations of other photographers or merely unaware inspiration.
While we believe the conversation is a necessary one to have, it seemed like the original article was intended to criticize Shields rather than open a dialogue about creativity and the difficulty of anything still being considered "original."
We all run out of ideas sometimes and it can be exhausting to constantly think of fresh and new concepts. Nowadays it feels like everything has already been done by someone else and likely more than once or twice.
Whether it's music, fashion, cuisine or art, somewhere out there in the world, what we BELIEVE is an original thought, to some extent is just a reference of something we have already seen or heard. Nobody has invented a new color, vegetable or music chord because those foundations were established many, many years ago. The people who find success in referencing other people's ideas as inspiration get away without it being questioned because they put their own personal mark on it...enough that it's difficult to even recognize who or what the original inspiration was.
What I found a bit alarming about the article was that it mentions how Shields has not acknowledged that his ideas are allegedly not original, even when his photographs bear extreme resemblance to another artist's work.
I believe in defending your work and creative integrity when it is being challenged, but it is also ethically important to give credit to others when it's rightfully deserved. Ego can get in the way of allowing yourself to not admit when your idea was borrowed from someone else. We are all guilty of doing that in one way or another.
It's easy to not be aware of the past work of the many successful photographers in the world unless you formally educated about them or participated in a vast area of personal research. It also does not seem that important to study the history and technique that goes along with taking photographs...as long as you have a camera and an Instagram account.
All jokes aside, it IS important to study history and technique to help you get better at whatever you do and out of respect to the artists and successful people in your field that you admire.
There is a lesson here for all of us which is why we are opening a dialogue rather than targeting a specific person.
Here are a couple of examples of Shield's work next to the photographs they are being accused of imitating. You can find more of the comparisons and the original writer's take on Tyler at the link below. Say what you will about Tyler's inspiration and value to the world of art, his followers and ideas... but the man makes a splash and must be doing something right.