Learning By Imitation

In the sciences a pupil is taught formulas and learns to aply and adopt these to whichever situations present themselves. By contrast, artistic learning requires studying the masters and learning to imitate their techniques before being able to create a new one. By knowing the rules and how those great artists adhered to them or broke them, the student gains a greater understanding.

My own learning by imitation began with the internet and the homepage. I would navigate to one which looke dneat, view the source, consult my OReilly HTML book, and figure out how to do it myself. Flickr has had a similar effect on opening my mind to new possibilities.

For example, I simultaenously experienced triptychs on flickr and in a photography book I was reading. This allowed me to think of pictures in ways I had never thought of. It seems simple, but I had never thought of joining pictures to convey one idea other than to have a set of pictures. Sometimes, however, three pictures can have a diluted effect when compared to one triptych.

Queen Victoria Jubiliee Memorial

I feel the above photo showcases the inscriptions on the tribute to Victoria in a way that best shows their context. I think a picture of just the text with only the surrounded stone would have been quite boring. A shot of the statue along with the inscriptions would have left them too small to see without zooming in a little and would have required zooming in less to the Queen, the central figure in the triptych. So, seen this way, they gain greater significance.

York Castle

Or take this diptych. I think the text reinforces the Castle’s relevance. With just the text, the viewer says, “What castle?” but with the castle we can look at both at the same time – impossible to framce otherwise while retaining the legible text. (Which can be read at full size, just click on the photo above)

By thinking of this idea beforehand, I was able to plan ahead and get the required shots and it made my vacation photography pleasant rather than frustrating. Althought I also try and hunt for new and exciting angles, I now have another way to present my shots.

And the inspiration doesn’t end there. Seeing others’ self portraits has motivated me to find new ways of seeing myself and comunicating this image to others. So browse through the work of others and don’t be afraid to be inspired!