Copycat: a photo reference or an exact replica?

Here and there people ask me and tell me about photographers who try to copy my style, and if I get bother with it.

Personally this fact really flatters me, as I find it nice someone is using my photos as a reference. So I take it as a big compliment and it gives me a huge smile on my face!

If you aim to be a professional photographer, of just like to make beautiful photos as a hobby, using photos as a reference will give you some inspiration or even orientation to what you are aiming for. I do it with my clients too – I show photos of other photographers, and they also show me what they are looking for. It is a great help to know their likes and dislikes, and to know if we are a real match!

However my advice will be to find your own style, once it will be your “true self” imprinted on the photos. Let’s remember that photography is a strong media of communication, and your photographs should also say something about yourself – rather than only coping what others are “communicating”.

If you really want to follow a photographer career, go deep and go to school!!! There is a world of information behind and inside the camera. Knowledge will make all difference between someone with just a good camera and someone capable to deliver good quality photographs. And believe me, clients look for your portfolio and all the courses you have done!

Some does and don’ts:

  • Use other photographer’s photos as a photo reference, as guidance. Describe to yourself what you like the most: composition, color, poses, etc.
  • Try to produce images that reveal your own style. And if you still don’t know what is your photography style, make a selection of photographers who are more appealing to you. If there is something you like in them that means it truly speaks to your soul!
  • Remember that not everyone will enjoy your photos: your style will “speak” to some people more than others – that is just fantastic! You will find your own niche and your own public.
  • Scratching the surface of the copycat behavior and/or psychologically speaking, we can describe them as the person who has no sense of self. Extreme copying reveals low self-esteem to no self-esteem at all, and an inferiority complex. On some level, it’s a way to avoid feeling downgraded.
  • Appreciate what others are doing and even mention who is your photographer reference. That only shows your respect and admiration for other photographer’s body of work.
  • Most important of all, YOU ARE UNIQUE: there is something about you that no one else has! What you see, the way you interpreted things, the way you feel – nothing is the same. So, it is worth to invest your time finding your true self and also in the images you produce.

Many kisses and much love to you all!


Author: Helen Navajas

"Als je op zoek bent naar een leuke, lieve en enthousiaste fotograaf dan ben je bij Helen aan het goede adres! Wij zijn ontzettend blij dat Helen de foto's heeft gemaakt voor onze bruiloft. Helen heeft oog voor details, spontane en bijzondere momenten, zonder daarbij continu op de voorgrond aanwezig te zijn. Dit heb ik zelf als prettig ervaren. Helen heeft een prettige persoonlijkheid, waarbij je je snel op je gemak voelt. Toen ik sommige foto's later terug zag, kon ik me niet herinneren dat Helen deze had gemaakt. Dat is wat mij betreft hoe een top fotograaf te werk gaat: het maken van mooie, maar spontane foto's. Daarnaast zijn ook de fotoboeken van hoge kwaliteit." ​Anke Boerema, Amsterdam

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