If you can’t be first, be cutest

I've never really worked on the whole "time-to-market" thing with my photography. It's always just been slogging along there, coming up the rear as I've taken on other creative projects for clients.

Case in point this picture from a recent family portrait session. The three shots of this sweet little girl came from the first lighting test shots of the session, but somehow unlocked her inner model. She knocked out the "Three Monkeys" poses in succession and, with photoshop magic, we suddenly have triplets.

But the inspiration for a shot like this is pretty easy to track down. Apart from being an iconic original image of the maxim "do no evil", it's a tepid fever on iStockPhoto.com, where a quick search for "Hear no evil" uncovers 179 images riffing on exactly the same theme.

And yet, as with all things artistic, a riff is just a riff, and what matters is your ability to capture an idea in a new way, unique to your vision and principle. For me, this picture is fun and frivolous. It's unpretentious. Most importantly, it captures exactly the vision I had in my head as I was snapping away in our session together.

For me, this such a photography thing. There are very few pictures that truly have yet to be taken. But with each setting and subject comes an infinite number of combinations of photographers with an equally infinite number of ideas and concepts for capture. And then I think about my friends Curt and Sam and Justin and Tyler and Matt and so on and so on, all musicians working to capture the same images through music, with the same challenges, and the same rich bed of opportunity. Stephen King, Cormac Macarthy, George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, all documentarians of the unoriginal in uncannily unique voice.

The challenge I work toward beating, then, is not to struggle to find the best idea. It's to find my uncannily unique voice, and apply it to the old, the broken, and to build new connections where none existed before.