Can You Steal a Photographer's Style?

Photographers can be very protective of their techniques and creative ideas, while others can be extremely open about how they work. Regardless of the process, the end result is on display for all to see. Does this mean it's possible for others to steal a photographer's style? This thought-provoking video examines exactly that question. 

Coming to you from Daniel Norton Photography, this insightful video discusses the issue of style and whether it can be "stolen." It's a thorny issue in the arts, as it's rare that we see cases of blatant plagiarism so much as instances that provoke one to ask just where the line is. I think a lot of the time it comes down to intention. One may incorporate elements of the styles of photographers they admire in an effort to emulate them, and often, this leads to a new style that's an amalgamation of the constituents (I once read a quote by a musician who said he tried to emulate hip-hop on guitar and failed, but "failed in an interesting way"). It seems rare that good-intentioned emulation leads to plagiarism, but rather, it's most often a desire to piggyback off the success of another that creates obvious issues. Check out the video above for Norton's full thoughts and let me know what you think in the comments. 

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3 Comments

Spy Black's picture

Being as Adobe has installed a lot of phone-home sub-apps, I suspect they're studying what everyone does to feed into an AI engine. They will be in essence ripping everyone's style off.

Cristian G.'s picture

You can't steal immaterial things :). Maybe you want to use another term like copy, mimic or appropriate.

Deleted Account's picture

With hundreds of millions of photographers out there (thanks to smartphones), there's nothing really unique under the sun when it comes to a photographer's style. People are going to reinvent styles without ever having heard of each other, over and over and over again. What's to be stolen? Unless you rob the makeup of an image completely (and who owns the right to pretend to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa exactly, anyway?) then the image is yours and it's unique to you.