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Coincidences, copies and plagiarism in photos

0612/2016

People tend to find similarities in images. Let’s look through this amazing selection of images that have the same meaning, color, shape and disposition.

Similarities often happen spontaneously and amaze us with synchronicity of their emergence. There are surprising and unexplained coincidences in science, communication and art: simultaneous and identical phrases in conversation or music rhapsodies.

However, the idea is often so engaging that you want to repeat it consciously. It is acceptable. The repetition is an effort to make the piece of art better or go author’s way and learn something. Let’s look at the examples of visual patterns similarity and photo pairs that are similar but not the same.

Trolley by Robert Frank

Trolley by Robert Frank

Terrace de Cafe by William Klein

Terrace de Cafe by William Klein

August Sander. Young Farmers/Jungbauern. 1914

August Sander. Young Farmers/Jungbauern. 1914

Giancarlo Rado

Giancarlo Rado

The worst case is when a photographer creates a copy of someone else’s piece of work whether he is aware about it or not. The art project ‘Divine Cracks’ by Italian professional photographer Aliocha Merker won the 1st place in the Fine Art category at the Golden Camera competition in 2014.

Aliosha Merker. Italy

Aliosha Merker. Italy

Very similar concept was used by the French architect and photographer Eric Marrian. In his artworks he depicted human body made of alabaster – often in pretty much the manner as Merker did.

Eric Marrian

Eric Marrian

The worst approach is when a repetition is claimed to be author’s original artwork. Here are two photographers covering the topic of emigration and refugees arriving in the EU by series of very similar photos.

Samuel Ivin ‘Lingering Ghosts’

Samuel Ivin ‘Lingering Ghosts’: ‘The aim of my documentary photography project ‘Lingering Ghosts’ is to raise questions about the UK’s migration system and how the refugees feel themselves arriving in our country seeking safety. These ‘Lingering Ghosts’ are unable to fully integrate into the UK society, and are up in the air for a long period of time. This often leads to the loss of dignity, purpose and confidence. I hope to convey the feeling of disappointment and confusion of refugees losing their identity to the audience’.

And here is a series of Robert Tappert – the Grand Prix winner at the Slovak Press Photo 2015 that covers the same topic with similar images. His collection has shorter name – #ID series.

#ID

The article is not about finding the first author in the series of repetitions. We just wanted to stress that people value the variety and originality in informational flows. And it does not depend on what tool is used for sending a message: photography, art, prose or music. Thanks to the Internet, today any photographer can know beforehand how the topic of his project was covered by other photographers (if it was). And so he can avoid the repetitions.