Doing Stuff First. Or Not.

We’ve all had it happen, professionals, amateurs, beginning photogs alike. You think you have a great idea…gonna go shoot this cool new concept…then whammo. You see it done by somebody else. You can have more respect for it done well and less for it done poorly, but it’s the idea that counts. And “they” beat you to it.

Know what I say about that stuff? Get used to it.

FWIW, (and if it makes anybody out there feel any better – god knows I need to hear “same here” from some of you…), this happens to me all the time. All my little scribbles and journal notes and lists of ideas, gone poof in an instant.

One such occasion for me–a brilliant idea I had many years ago but failed to execute on–goes something like this…(click the ‘continue reading’ link below)

It’s the idea to shoot celebrity look-alikes in somewhat (or rather ‘very’) compromising situations, and do so in a waaaaay underproduced manner, such as to mimic a bad paparazzi shot. Just think of the fun you could have, I thought. My mind went nuts… And (gasp!) think of the trouble you could get in! Think of the social commentary, and the comment about paparazzi that it would make, and hell, even the commercial applications! And…

Well, rest assured it’s been done, and done well by Alison Jackson, this image and opener, above. The work is fantastic – she takes beyond where I would have. And she’s got herself a great new book to boast for it as well, thanks to those wonderful purveyors of the widest range of hipster coffee table books on the planet, Taschen. (Check out their site or their brick and mortar at 107 Greene Street in NYC. Buy the book here. (BTW, if you’re out there listening, the cover design for Jackson’s book is not good…but don’t judge a book by it’s cover.) To get a flavor for the images she’s compiled since she started shooting this stuff in 1999, visit her mock celebrity news site, AJ News. The concept was also done this year by Shaul Schwarz for Getty. I personally prefer Ms. Jackson’s take, but that’s just me.

So three morals: 1) Go check out Jackson’s new book; 2) People are going to beat you to ideas. Get used to it and do not lament it. Work through/beyond it; 3) Go shoot that winning concept that is in your head TODAY. I guarantee that somebody else has the same idea and they’re planning their shoot right now. Remember: Ideas? Worth very little. Actions on those ideas? Priceless.

[Worthy side note is that both shooters of this concept mentioned above had their work on this topic featured in the 2008 PDN Photo Annual. Congrats Alison and Shaul. Check out the 2008 PDN Photo Annual gallery here. Look for killer work by John Offenbach, Raymond Meier, Julia Fullerton-Batten, Justin Mott, and others. Or to learn about the two categories that I somehow snagged (lied, cheated, stole, bribed my way into winning?) click the shameless press link here.]

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