How To Be Inspired Without Copying Others

At what point does inspiration become copying? Following several high profile cases debating whether influencers have copied each other’s images, the line between being inspired and directly imitating an image is becoming blurred. If you see a photo you like and you decide to create your own version, have you copied or have you simply been inspired?

The difference is in the detail – have you copied that image exactly, using the same colours, composition and pose, or have you interpreted it in your own way? Look at your photograph next to the one that you have been inspired by. Can you tell the difference? If they look exactly the same, you should consider reshooting or at the very least, credit the original influencer in your caption as the inspiration behind the image.

Some images are all over Instagram and it can be hard to put your own spin on them.

There are so many photographs of petals in a bath, a girl standing in front of a floral bush or a cup of tea on a table that it can be easy to just directly copy something that you’ve seen before. Rather than succumbing to imitation, try to take the photo in your own unique style. Try a different angle, use a different filter, wear a different outfit, stand in a different pose; take the shot with the intention of creating a unique image.

The easiest way to avoid imitation is by creating your own image without looking at the work of others, but you could still unintentionally take a very similar photograph. There are many Instagram ‘hot-spots’ around the globe that influencers flock to, resulting in hundreds of very similar photos. I recently stayed in a riad in Marrakech that is incredibly popular with Instagrammers. If you look through the tagged images of Riad Yasmine, you will see that all of the photographs are incredibly similar and I really struggled to take any shots that were truly unique.

Personally, I am inspired by others constantly.

I spend so much time on Instagram and Pinterest that I end up with hundreds of images that I would like to interpret in my own way. I save these images to Pinterest boards and to Instagram saved folders, and sometimes find myself referring back to them when I’m out and about with my camera. Rather than directly setting out to copy these photographs, I think about the elements of them that I like and would like to use in my own work. I might then pick up on some of these elements when taking a photograph, but the images will never look the same as the ones that originally inspired me.

It’s actually harder to directly replicate an image than it looks. You will find it far easier to capture a great shot if you let go of trying to copy and simply let yourself be inspired. You might want to take a photograph of yourself posing beside a bush or tree covered in flowers but rather than studying another image and awkwardly trying to imitate exact poses, let yourself go and see what happens naturally.

Think outside the box.

What can you do differently than what has been done before? You want your photo to stand out and get noticed, so what can you do to help that to happen? It’s also important that people know that it’s your image, which is why you should develop an instantly recognisable style. If you are inspired by other influencers but sharing photographs that showcase your own distinct aesthetic, then you’re doing it right.

It’s perfectly fine to seek inspiration from others, especially when we are surrounded by so many inspirational images. The main things to remember are to put your own spin on the images that you take and to credit when credit is due. If you think that your image is very similar to another, always add a line to your caption to tag the original photographer as your inspiration. Remember that Instagram is a community, and that community spirit should be respected.

Words by Emma Lavelle.

Image by @alexandriaslens.