Originality and creativity


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Mar 12, 2005
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#1
I read with indifference, the most recent copy of PhotoI, where there is a feature on this photographer who claimed to shoot things that are "different".

It really came into my mind, at the same time, how does one define the so called originality and creativity. In fact, I have seen similar shots before in the internet galleries.

No offence here. But perhaps you can share your views.

Probably to add on, in my opinion, it is quite likely whatever one can think of as original photograph, it has been taken by someone somewhere, be it very similar or using the same concept.
 

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#2
truth-photographer said:
I read with indifference, the most recent copy of PhotoI, where there is a feature on this photographer who claimed to shoot things that are "different".

It really came into my mind, at the same time, how does one define the so called originality and creativity. In fact, I have seen similar shots before in the internet galleries.

No offence here. But perhaps you can share your views.

Probably to add on, in my opinion, it is quite likely whatever one can think of as original photograph, it has been taken by someone somewhere, be it very similar or using the same concept.
There was a sudden promotion of photography since Nov 2003 in Singapore. By mid 2004, there was not only a influx of local photo magazines (Grain, PhotoI etc) but Basic Photography instructors (by the dozens).

Every magazine is trying to crab whatever is available from the contributions of local photographers even foreign photographers that are based here if I am not wrong.

It is indeed time to discuss the myth or the real truth of creativity and originality in photographic arts. For one thing many artists including photographers would not want to admit that during the learning stage there is this one step that they had to go across and that is to be a copycat.
What do you folks think?

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ellery

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#3
Look at it from the perspective - how old is photography ? Almost 100 years in that time interval there would have been XXXXX number of photo taken by XXXXXXX number of people. Some of who are highly talented. There is little likelyhood that anything that is straight photography is truely original as in it is the first photo of that type. What any one can aspire to is to make theirs stand out from the crowd - either by camera skills or post production work.

Its like you may honestly think what u just did is hot new - but to some one else who has seen more its nice a little different but not new new seen something similar.

Our local situtation is a frog in a well.....until internet came and open borders.
Most of the quality in the local pubs are well ok but its not cutting edge its not pack leader content. Top quality comes with a price tag which they cannot afford.
 

#4
I think it's always our dream to be able to be creative and original and to shoot with a difference. Unless your job is to shoot 500 pairs of shoes or handbags in 3 days that is a different story.

To what degree we have attained it is the question. Maybe the difference is great to us because we've never used a certain technique before but to others it may be an old hat. It does not matter a great deal if people are blase about it.

The main thing is to strive to be a bit creative and original and to do things a bit differently if you think you can. This is where photography could start to be challenging and interesting.
 

Witness

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#5
This question is highly philosophical lo...how much of wat we do daily is really tt original actually anyway...

In terms of concepts and poses, metinks its difficult to trace to originator...but wat can be seen is the overall works of the time all look almost the same...it would take a real revolution to come up with something "fresh"

perhaps u can say someone is creative if the way he takes is photos are really diff from the mainstream, it doesnt have to mean tt he's the only one taking it tt way...so long as the consciously made and effort to tink of it himself ya...

i tink the most important thing in photo is the rite mood to fit the right theme.....so long as it works and feels/looks good.....so be it...

creative and original or not waits to be seen...its decided by the ppl ard the photog...all one person has to do is..."hey i have seen this before..." and burst.....all strands of "creativity and originality" are gone ...even if the person did think of it himself......

anyway these two terms are sparkled by the way people appreciate things ard them....there has to be a stimulus...if so how is it possible to trace it back to the originator? the original concept perhaps juz pop into someone's mind...but i tink otherwise....the living environment has to trickle this impetus ya......

cheers.....
 

Astin

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#6
To borrow what Sion said, I also "dream to be able to be creative and original". But many times, I think beyond creative and original, we also need to know how to execute. And most times its a collective efforts of many minds, someone who is creative in ideas but dont know how to do it, plus someone who is "not creative" but know out how to do it.
 

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#7
Hi Truth-photographer,

We finally met at PSS today, and yeah, we sure spent a long time discussing about the creativity and originality issue. I would say you are certainly very enthusiastic about photography and I am happy you got what you want from me today.

Probably something to share here. I have interviewed a few master photographers on their opinions about this issue.

Here it goes, from one of the interviews as part of my thesis at NTU. No harm sharing as it might eventually be disclosed in the Journal papers or NTU archives:
:) "Originality" in photography is extremely difficult to define. Whether a piece of photo has the ORIGINALITY is decided by the authorities of the time, so unfortunately it is not to be claimed by the photographers themselves. It is mostly refered in the context of the history of the photography. Literally the word means never done before, but it has to be RECOGNIZED by the Authorities such as historians of photography, the top museums and so on. In my understanding, there is originality in photography, but very very few photographers are original. To name one or two, such as Cartier-bresson and Robert Frank or Martin Parr. But even they are not exactly hundred percent original as they were also influenced by others before them.

Originality is very strict and it has pretty common understanding of what it is among photographers. Any photographer with some general knowledge of history would not easily comment on someone's work as "original", but he may say "creative". Originality must be creative, but it is not vice versa.
In other words, there is an objective or even universal standard as what is Originality, but creative is only relative,and therefore subjective. By being creative, one may achieve something as original eventually.
:)

The above quote from a master photographer, is really worth mentioning and worth your time to ponder. :thumbsup:
 

student

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Jul 26, 2004
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#8
There is always another way of seeing things.

As mentioned ad nauseum, many like to be "creative" and/or "original". An artist that is truly creative and original is a rare breed. Maybe there are some here, but very few.

I am currently having an ongoing discussion ( for more than 2 years ) with a photographer who has works collected by more than 60 museums worldwide.

I had asked him what made the works of truly great artists "great". What set them apart from other very talented artists? Was it originality (the first?) Was it creativity?

His answer, referring to people like Picasso, Matisse, Moore, Cartier-Bresson, Weston, Strand, Sudek, etc, etc, was NOT CREATIVITY NOR ORIGINALITY.

In his opinion, creativity and originality, while highly desirable attributes, are not the most important factor to determine "greatness".

What is most important, according to him, is the ability to make incredible biographies of the subjects they chose to focus their energy on. They make stories never made before.

Example: Weston with his ability to portrait peppers and shells as life forms and dance. Cartier-Bresson with his ability to portray the fleeting moments of life that people do not pay attention to. Sudek make poetry of the rain on his windows while under house arrest.

These people saw the extraordinary in the ordinary, and brought the rest of us to appreciate beauty that we otherwise could not see. These people had no real interest to be original nor creative. Thay just have the ability, passion and enthusiasm to make great stories.
 

Restless

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Spot on there student!!

As always.. it is the vision that defines the work..

creativity.. originality.. it's the things we build from.. but all of us are inspired in some way or another by everything around us.. by life..

nothing is truely "original" in that sense.. but..

no one will truely do the same things in the exact same fashion..

a photo taken at the same spot of the same object.. even minutes apart.. differ..

i guess.. the things that make the "greats" great... is the impression they are able to leave on their work?

enjoy the process as well as the outcome i guess?

Your work will speak for itself.. and your personal style will show through..
solving the question of "originality" . :)
 

rncw

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#10
student said:
These people saw the extraordinary in the ordinary, and brought the rest of us to appreciate beauty that we otherwise could not see. These people had no real interest to be original nor creative. Thay just have the ability, passion and enthusiasm to make great stories.
:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

possibily the best i read here
 

mattlock

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#12
of course nothing is truly original! nobody lives in a shell and suddenly comes up with some genius idea. that's not to say that a combination of influences and ideas cannot make something new
The OBJECT or the SUBJECT alone do not determine its meaning, what is important is the objective behind it also. You have Andy Warhol with silk screens of soup cans, what is original about that? it's just a bunch of campbell soup cans right? But the originality is the thought behind it
If you get anal about it NOTHING is original because in music all notes have been used before, in painting all colours and materials have been used before,
in photography most subjects have been photographed before.

Photography has the problem of being a medium that creates its information from the light and colour present in reality, in other words everything that is created in a camera may be said to have been derived from reality.
If your standard for judging originality is based on being new and unseen before the fact is everything that you do with the camera is already present and derived.

Most of us believe in the myth of a "masterpiece", a single image that is hawked by everyone as being essential. But the truth is, the most famous painters/photographers/sculptors, etc etc etc are defined as original and creative through expression of their vision in a SERIES
If you take one work from each of famous photographers, you'll never be able to truly judge the importance of each photographer
I believe that work shown in series is especially important in photography. Writers don't get seen as important and original based on one paragraph they write, musicians don't get important based on one song they write (exception of course is the one-hit wonder, but most people see those as fun and throwaway).

creativity has become some politically correct word which even ministers and teachers throw around thinking you can teach it to people
Everyone's creative, it's just a matter of finding solutions to problems in various ways. Opening your car door through a small crack using a clothes hanger, giving a **** and bull story to the wife about why you came home late
Man invented the wheel, that was creative and problem-solving

if you think you can't be creative and original then you're just being lazy
If your main intention is to be original and creative it's pretty darn difficult, because the most original and creative people don't have hang ups over being "original" and "creative", they just have something they feel they want to express, and with a knowledge of the history of the visual arts, understand what came before them and how to express what they want to express without doing the same thing
 

zaren

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#13
student said:
They make stories never made before.

These people saw the extraordinary in the ordinary, and brought the rest of us to appreciate beauty that we otherwise could not see.
sounds like originality (and creativity) to me. :cool:
 

student

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zaren said:
sounds like originality (and creativity) to me. :cool:

In a sense, you are right.

But their main objective was not to be original or creative. They were not hung up to be original/creative. Their objective is to tell a story that mattered to them.

Mattlock's point about a series is pertinent. I am always amused by the way people want to "get creative". If one have something to say, something meaningful, you will find creative and original ways to say it. If one has nothing to say, what are all the "creative/original" approaches for?

Hence Cartier-Bresson on his body of works on the feeting moments.

Hence Weston's body of work on forms and shapes of peppers, shells, bodies
 

ellery

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#15
ai yah like the popular slogan nike pushs = Just Do it (and stop worrying about how others see your work) that is what this discussion orbits around.

If you can pour enough of your soul, energy, life force emotions into an image or in simple talk passion and make it reflect or shine with these attributes the image will speak for itself.

Just to highlight my earlier post was not to say one should not try - it was to say one should not boast about being original or creative - the viewer decides how to rate what is seen based upon their experience so most "judegements" recieved are very subjective even if they are from expert viewers. An ability to produce consistant quality of work will ultimately determine your true metal.
 

Canonised

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My observation is that,
Creativity lasts only for a moment where Originality lasts forever.
Being creative is always been influenced by some external works/experiences, being original is always almost from within oneself.
Creativity is good, Original is Great!
 

judeseah

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#17
i m both original n creative.

BUT,

when i m creative, i m not original,
when i m original, i m not creative.

:)

a very distorted quote of Churchchill
 

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