Initially I planned to write a post about something else: on why we take photos and what’s there in photography that attracts us. I was going to discuss some ideas from Suzan Sontag’s essays on photography. But to be honest, I couldn’t eventually figure out what I wanted to say and got entangled in the rags of ideas.
So, I was about to give up writing a new post, but then recalled one funny thing. While browsing through my photo archive I often realized that some of pictures somewhat resembled photos by other photographers I’ve seen before.
A boy with a grenade in Central Park © Diane Arbus, 1962
Some of my friends even reproached me for, as far as I understand, this sort of plagiarism. I agree that some photos, twin to the well-known ones, are the conscious products. When a situation, similar to that on a famous photograph that lie on the surface of consciousness, occurs, it’s logical, that that very photo will come to my mind and, since I like it, first thing I do, is take similar photo.
A dog near a highland village in Svaneti, 2010. As soon as I took this photo I realized that it looks very much like one picture by Ed Kashi (below), which I saw a couple of months before that © Temo Bardzimashvili,
© Ed Kashi, 2009
But it happens that you realize that a photo has its twin sister only months after. It could be a coincidence, if you haven’t seen the other photo before. But I often copied some photos I’ve seen before without realizing it. Only some time after I found out that some of my pictures and a photo taken by Steve McCurry, Elliott Erwitt or others are similar. Then it becomes clear that all this time this picture was present on the background of my consciousness and made me take similar photo at the right moment.
So, is this plagiarism? Yes and no. Yes, because it could be. If you intentionally copy a renowned work, chase the real situation, light and colors you saw on that photo, especially when you stage it, then yes, you’re plagiarizing it. But if you’re in the similar situation by the accident, and you want to get best use of it, then “a hint” from the masters could be of a great help. In such cases you rather use your lesson you learnt when looking at the photo of the Afghan Girl, Victory Day Kiss at the Times Square etc.
Some more “twin” photos: