What is Original Photography? – We Seek to Define

Is there such thing as original photography or has it all been done before? Is it wrong to look at other photographers for inspiration? What do we do here at Caroline Trotter photography if clients request images that have already been done by someone else?

The strive to create original photographs is what pushes photographers like ourselves to the next level and keeps their creative juices flowing, but is it actually possible if everything has already been done?

Original photography?These photographers are taking pictures of the same subjects – is it possible for their shots to be original?


Let’s start by defining copying. There are two types of copying, the illegal kind and the not so illegal yet equally as frustrating kind.

Illegal copying is an infringement of copyright. If someone takes a photograph from a website and uses it on their website, social media page, leaflet or any form of publication without asking for your permission or accreditation, then they could get in serious trouble. You have a right to commence legal proceedings and if you win, they could end up owing you a lot of money.

The second kind of copying isn’t illegal but it’s still plain wrong. This is where people view a photographers work and create an almost carbon copy of it, with a few minor alterations that makes it technically legal. It’s frustrating, it’s unoriginal and it’s wrong but there isn’t much legally that can be done.

The recipe for success is originality; there is a big difference between copying a photographer and producing something unique after being inspired by them.

Is it okay to draw inspiration from other photographers?

We don’t think you’ll find a photographer out there that doesn’t want to inspire other people. They’re likely to be flattered that other industry professionals admire their work and want to use it as inspiration for their own photography.

What they don’t want is people copying their photography closely. Shooting in a similar style or using a similar subject is fine, but it’s important to provide a unique take. As explained below, that’s something that comes from within the photographer – their originality.

What if clients ask for a similar photograph?

Photographers like ourselves can be faced with dilemmas when it comes to client requests. For example, their client presents them with a photograph taken by another photographer and says they want exactly the same photograph but featuring them instead. What does the photographer do?

The right thing to do would be to explain to the client that whilst it’s okay to draw inspiration from a particular image, their photograph would be far more original, unique and valuable to them if they put their own unique/original spin on the topic. Originality isn’t just putting someone else, doing the same pose on the same backdrop as someone in an existing photograph; it’s drawing inspiration from the said photograph and using it to create something fresh and exciting.

Paris at nightFamous landmarks are heavily photographed but it’s still possible for a unique perspective to be used.

Does originality exist in photography?

We see countless photographs of the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge but should that put photographers off taking their own photographs of these famous monuments? No it shouldn’t.

Yes, there are so many different photography subjects out there and yes someone probably has already taken a photograph of them but for the photographer it’s all about finding that unique set of circumstances to create an original photograph.

Original photography is possible. Every photographer has their own unique take on what they see; photographer will interpret a client brief in different ways. It is these inner feelings we get from subjects and ways we approach them, which makes our photography original.

Original Photography with Caroline Trotter

Original photography exists; it’s just a case of putting in the effort to create it and also having the natural ability. Contact us here at Caroline Trotter and we’ll be able to create truly original photography you will adore.

Image credits: pedrosimoes7 and McPig