Being the Same is the New Original

Feeling Gray

I am sure when reading the title of my little diatribe, (not sure if that will be the case) you are probably thinking, “is this guy bi-polar or what?”. Well, both Frédérique and myself have come to the conclusion, that in order to succeed in the Arts today and specifically as a commercial Fashion Photographer, you have to become as homogeneous as skimmed milk.

I have noticed the literal hundreds of pages of fashion spreads that look like they could have been done by the same photographer, but were done by literally a cast of hundred or even more. They all look the SAME! Of course the styling is somewhat different. But the style is undeniably “Homogenized”.

I would go as far as to say, that being different and original is no longer an asset, but a major hindrance to success, as most do not want to take the risk of not looking the SAME as everything else that is produced. It is in THAT sameness that the advertisers and most main stream magazines take solace in the continuity of what is acceptable and not disturbing.

There was a time in Fashion where if you were not original, your chances of getting published was rare. Now, I am NOT saying that there are not incredibly creative individuals out there producing outstanding work. What I am saying, is that it is becoming more and more difficult for those individuals to succeed in what is becoming a very difficult metier to survive in even under the best of conditions.  Playing it safe has become the norm and those with enough courage to express something other than the drab porridge being doled out daily, risk being considered as artistic mutants worthy of surviving on the periphery of the Biz.

I guess, what one must strive for is a balance between being too avant guard and too mundane, if they wish to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and feel somewhat good about themselves.

Just to end this little rant on another Note and no pun intended, but the Music Industry, the Arts and Cinema all seem to be suffering a similar malaise. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel and I believe that once the economic nightmare that most of us are going through (that is other than the 1% that control 50% of the money) does end, that being creative will become an asset again rather than an inconvenience for those not wishing to shake up the status quo.

I am just wondering… How many shades of Gray are there?  Or is that Grey?

About Benjamin Kanarek
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Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…
  • Sonja

    Thank you for writing what I have been feeling. I am so tired of everyone trying force a formula on artists of any genre, for creativity. Just as breathing is natural, diversity is natural. No 2snowflakes are alike, no 2 sets of fingerprints are alike, and so on..

  • Joseph Graf

    This is the same reason movie studios make sequels. Once they have hit on a winning formula, they ring it out for all its worth. Too frightened to take a chance. Actually I cant really blame them since it takes millions and millions to produce a blockbuster anymore… it is understandable why they are too gun shy to take chances.

  • Dietmarkohl

    Sometimes i think they must use all the same Applications in Photoshop the same Models the same Make-up/Hair the same Stylists same ArtDirectors same Agents and and and..that almost leads all to the same Results.Nothing Individuell about anything anymore really that is true..Life is a Commercial and it gets worst – but will it get better that is another same old Question.And yes they come out in the hundreds if not thousands i tell you Benjamin that is right.

  • http://www.skipgue.com Skip Gue

    Truly you’ve nailed it here Benjamin. For some, the drive to “Make it” is always playing in the background of our minds somewhere. But what is that really? Given that I think BALANCE is the key factor to maintaining a living and being able to creatively express ourselves at the same time. Obviously it’s all subject to what the market perceives as acceptable trends in fashion photography (or not).  At the end of the day, I just try to ask myself am I still inspired and having fun doing what I do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JPGraf.Photography Joseph Graf

    Tough economic times create a lot of cowards.

  • Brian Herman

    Benjamin,

    I think in the last paragraph you actuallly found the answer. With the economic crisis the world has been facing, less grants and funding for arts have been available which I feel makes artists across all media less willing to take a chance. When a society prospers and can invest more in artistic support, then you have more artists willing to take risks and funding of more projects which lie further from the middle of the road. Don’t fret, it will swing back around. In the meantime dream big dreams and keep them in idea books to reference once the storm passes. That way you will be ready and in the forefront of the folks taking risks when al of this dies down. Love the work, love the blog! Best, Brian

  • frank donato

    You know this is apparent in all industries and well known in the Hollywood movie industry where most studios are too scared to take a chance on something new till some other studio or indie studio takes a chance and succeeds.

    I also notice that there are very many talented young people without a whole lot of life experience so all they know what to do is what everyone else is doing they find success in not being original but simply succeeding at copying something they like.

     Which in the music industry would be like a hundred bands all sounding like U2 and succeeding but in reality that is not the case. 

    I’ve always admired your work for being incredibly original particularly the candy shoot you did

    As a person who started out in the music industry I see twelve year old who can play better than Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai but they can’ not right songs and that is something that can not be bought or simply given it has to be earned through a lot of practice and trial and error to create something new.

  • Davide

    I now feel better after having same thought..

  • Eric Brayanne

    Without comment, it’s just!