To the local photographer who copies everything I do,
Everybody says, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” But I’m pretty sure that whoever started that saying was a copycat themselves… because I’m not flattered. I’m mad as hell.
I work so hard to separate myself from every other photographer in town. I invested in custom branding from a talented graphic designer. I spent days deciding which website template I should choose. I wrote my bio and then rewrote it and then rewrote it again. And then I scrapped it and did exactly twenty three more revisions until it was absolutely perfect.
And lo and behold, not three weeks later, you launch your new website. And you used the same template I did. Your branding looks eerily similar. And even your bio… it sounds like a knockoff version of mine. And we live in the same city! So yeah. I’m not flattered. I’m mad.
I mean, I know my new website looks fantastic, but you had to know that you had literally a thousand other options for website templates, branding and yes, even your bio. But you didn’t stop there with your copycat ways.
I’ve noticed that every time I offer a promo, you do too. When I started shooting a lot of my sessions at the local dairy farm, you did too. You aren’t just content to copy my online presence, you want to copy everything about my business, from my website to my style to favorite poses and locations. It must be exhausting for you. (Seriously though, how do you find the time to copy everything I do and still keep up on editing?)
I’ve been photographing kids for seven years, working hard to develop a style all my own, so I understand why you’re drawn to it. But running a successful photography business isn’t about following a formula. It’s about finding yourself as an artist and creating a business around your style.
You need to step away from the internet and do some soul-searching. You won’t figure out who you are as an artist and a photographer on someone else’s website. You won’t find it in their bio. You won’t discover how you best connect with your clients by copying someone else’s posing or going to the same locations. The beautiful thing about photography is that it’s personal. But the only way you can find out who you are is by looking inside.
See, I know you just want to make your mark. But you’re going about it all wrong. You should be trying to build a business based on your style, not mine. The sooner you figure out who you are as a photographer, the better. Because every day that you spend copying others is a waste… instead of moving your business forward, you’re moving backward. It’s time to stop copying and figure out your own style. I promise it will be worth the effort.
the photographer who is tired of being copied
Letters From a Photographer is a brand new, original series by Design Aglow. Articles are meant to spark thought and conversation and be shared within our industry.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.