Seth Godin has a great blog post on Originality (here) and I would read this because its probably more coherent than my writing. Now of course his thoughts aren’t new either, but I have to agree with him. I draw inspiration from everywhere, movies, photographers, talking with people even blatantly stealing an aesthetic from another artist (see above). As a new photographer I think this is process you have to go through, it begins to develop originality and a unique style. Anyone who thinks they are conceiving a new idea I will publicly call them out right now! You’re stealing too so just admit it! It is impossible in this day and age to create something new, it can evolve and take a new shape, but it will never be new. Now Seth Godin uses some historical figures as examples, but current ones would include, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Richard Prince who takes photographs of photographs. These guys took good ideas and made them great, okay maybe not Richard Prince, but I understand what he’s trying to do.
In conclusion copy people, give credit to those people, and soon your own voice will start to show in your work, but if you are going to copy people make sure you copy people who do things well and make them better or you will continue the trend of mediocrity. I copied Seth, but I didn’t make it better. Sorry.