Your Images Remind me of Ansel Adams’ Work!

When I was younger, the ultimate compliment someone could give me would be to say: “Your images remind me of Ansel Adams’ work.”  He was my childhood hero and I would dream of being “the next Ansel Adams.”

But then one day it hit me; there already was an Ansel Adams and nobody would ever do Ansel better than Ansel.  And was that really the extent of my ambitions and the apogee of my dreams, to copy someone else’s work?  I suddenly realized that I needed to create work that was uniquely mine.

But how?  There isn’t a subject that hasn’t been photographed many times before, so how could I create unique work?

While it is true that most everything has been photographed, it has not been photographed through my eyes.  We each have a unique vision buried inside and we must learn how to bring it out and develop it.

I am certainly not there yet, but I recognize what I must do to reach my goal.  It is this desire to see things uniquely that has led me to the controversial practice of not looking at other photographer’s work.  When I see a tree, I do not want visions of another photographer’s work flashing about in my head so that my creation simply becomes an imitation or extension of their work.

If possible, I would like to see that tree as if for the very first time, like a blind person might see it after an operation gives them sight for the very first time.  Of course this is not completely possible, but I do try to keep my mind clear of other images as much as possible.

When I photographed people on the street of Ukraine, that certainly was not a unique idea, but I hope that having people close their eyes was a unique approach.  Photographing ceiling lamps was not an original idea either, but I hope the viewpoint was.

I believe that we each have the capacity to be original, that we each have a unique vision that can be developed.  For some, like myself, it was buried deep and I didn’t even know that it was there.  Others are lucky to have this talent lying near the surface.

Cole


11 Responses to “Your Images Remind me of Ansel Adams’ Work!”

  • marshall swerman Says:

    though i personally enjoy and sometimes get frustrated when checking out other photographer’s work i totally understand your viewpoint……and i love your work!

  • Cole Says:

    Thanks Marshall, I also find looking at other work daunting and sometimes depressing. There are so many great photographers out there!

  • Gerry Toler Says:

    Part of he “saving grace” must be that everyone hasn’t seen all the subjects nor all the photographs…so we can hope that people viewing our images of that often photographed tree, haven’t seen it before! Wishful thinking.
    Shalom

  • Dianne Poinski Says:

    Cole,
    Good stuff to think about. I think as photographers we are challenged everytime we shoot since almost everything has been “done” before. All we can do is practice “seeing” every chance we get, not just when out taking photographs. Cole – I believe your style and vision come through clearly in your images.

  • Cole Thompson Says:

    Yes Dianne, an excellent point about practicing “seeing” at all times, not just when we are out shooting.

  • Lidija Ivanek Says:

    Cole, I was just thinking about how artworks from other artist influence on me… How it can lead me copying somebody else’s style, and later feel disappointment because of it. Now reading your post, it seems to be a problem at least one more artist 🙂
    But how to stay with a clear vision?
    It is a fact that on most photographic exhibition come only fellow photographers, because it is our field of interest. We love to see images of other photographers.
    I know one thing, if I feel passion and that little excitement of taking shoot, I am on the right path.

  • Cole Says:

    Lidija, I understand completely the dilemma! When I look at other’s work, sometimes it’s very enjoyable, sometimes it’s inspirational and sometimes it’s depressing as I see how many great photographers are out there that put me to shame!

    For now though, I want to perfect my own vision more than I want to enjoy others. It’s a selfish position, it’s not perfect approach and I suspect I will come to a point where I grow out of it; but for now it is working for me.

    Passion is the key, as you mention. I tell others who are starting work on a project; if it’s not flowing easily and you’re not excited about the project, best pick another one.

    Thanks for the though Lidija.

  • Why You Should Always or Never Listen to Your Critics - Thoughts on Photography Critiques | Traveling the Journey of Light | Photoblog Says:

    […] to take a hiatus from photo critiquing sites for a while.  Cole Thompson mentions in his blog post “Your Images Remind me of Ansel Adams” that he would like to see something as though he had been blind and immediately given vision, that […]

  • Steve H Says:

    No – you aren’t Ansel Adams at all. He had a style and you definitely have a style, a very good and different one I might add. I think people must be confused when they see a good B&W landscape – they must think Ah-ha: Ansel Adams. But he had a unique style all his own. But… hey, I can sure think of a lot worse things/people to be compared to. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Nina Says:

    I’m guilty … I said it not realizing that it might just impede the progress of someone as gifted as you are, Cole. Your black and white, I find, is entirely different and apart from that of Mr. Adams. I feel you ARE achieving a quality that is tops and unparalleled! Hope I’ve made up for being a goober!

    Blessings,
    Nina

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