Over the weekend while listening to a lot of music, I started to notice how many great bands have in their bio that they had been formed and started playing as “cover bands”, meaning they played the songs that other bands recorded. Not much is said about who they covered, but probably some indication when they talk about who were their influences. Then occasionally we hear a song that goes big on the charts from a new band covering an older song with their own twist.
For photographers, creating an image that has been previously made before, either subject or style is called creating a cliche, an overused expression or idea. In order to learn the art and craft of our medium, I do think that making similar work is a good thing. We can learn a lot in just trying to get that similar image in the use of camera, lens, exposure, post-image manipuation, the use of light in the compostion, etc. I just can not recall any great photographers getting a lot of excitement for making an exact duplicate image of someone else’s work (if you could), but with their own twist, e.g. Adam’s Half Dome as an example.
My image for this post, Arizona Monsoon, made in the early 70’s was very much in the popular style of the time and a bit of a cliche. It is a grand landscape image, made with a dark red filter to really darken the sky and pop the contrast of the storm cloud edges, then burning & dodging the print to create a stronger emphsis on the image mood. This was my first successfully pre-visualized image that I had created and was the reason that I felt that investing in medium format equipment was not going to be a waste of resources. It was a pivotal image in my artistic development and I may not have progressed much without creating it. But it is not where I am today, but this was my cliche that started me in the right direction. And I have to say, cliche or not, I still like it……
Best regards, Doug