Using Imitation and Inspiration to Create Great Images
Book author: Glyn Dewis
No photographer works in a vacuum. Photographers, like all artists, stand on the shoulders of those who came before them, and they are informed and influenced by those working around them. If you are striving to find your own style, one of the most powerful exercises you can practice is to find influence and inspiration in the work of those around you, and then emulate that work in an effort to define, shape, and grow your own photographic voice. By collecting, imitating, and eventually reshaping and combining the work of those around you, your unique voice can be found and the quality of your work can soar.
In Photograph Like a Thief, photographer, author, and retoucher Glyn Dewis embraces the idea of “stealing” and recreating others’ work in order to improve as an artist. By stepping inside others’ images, you can learn to reverse engineer their creation, then build an image that simultaneously pays homage to that work and is also an original creation itself.
Glyn begins by covering the process of “stealing ideas” and finding inspiration. He shares the gear he uses as well as his retouching and post-processing workflow. In a chapter on how to reverse engineer a photograph, Glyn discusses how to read an image by looking at the catch lights, shadow and highlight positions, and the hardness or softness of the shadows. This is a crucial skill to acquire if you want to recreate a specific look.
Glyn then works through a series of images—inspired by movies, books, history, and a few legendary photographers—from the initial concept and influence to the final result. For each image, he reverse engineers the shot to describe how it was created, then works through the gear he used, the lighting for the image, and the post-processing of the image in Photoshop—from the RAW out-of-camera shot to the finished piece. While Glyn’s work primarily focuses on portraiture, he finds inspiration and influence from a wide variety of work.
By working alongside Glyn (he makes all the files available for download), you too can learn to find inspiration all around you, discover how others’ work can influence you, improve your photographic and post-processing skill set, and begin your own journey to defining your unique style.
Who knows? Soon, others may be stealing from you.