A couple weeks ago I was sitting in front of my computer at the studio. I was scrolling through Facebook and an image came across my screen that created such a visceral reaction that i thought my heart was going to explode. I though I was seeing things and going insane. I was confused.
This image was so very similar to the work I have done on Body is a Battlefield that I thought it was mine. For a split second I thought my work was being showcased by a prominent photography source. Then I realized that it wasn’t mine at all. Oh my god. It WASN’T MINE. A million and one thoughts went flying through my brain. “Who stole my idea?!”, “This person is winning awards with MY images!”, “Do I need a lawyer???”, “How does one go after another for copyright of an idea or art?”, “Wait…this photographer is well-renowned and wouldn’t be crazy as to copy someone else’s work!”, and finally, “I need to contact the most level-headed person I know to talk me down from this spiral of insanity.” So, that is just what I did. I chose to “call a friend” and that was my final answer. Okay, let’s be honest… I Facebook messaged him. And his reply was exactly what I needed to hear, “Here is the weird thing. It is possible it is a coincidence. I've witnessed this time and time again. It seems that similar ideas tend to manifest at or near the same time. I've seen it with movies and stories. Once the idea is unleashed into the collective consciousness others pick up on it. I'd just make sure you copyright everything. Just to protect yourself as well.” Then I attempted to do just that. I took all the images in that project and submitted them for copyright. I have not heard back yet, but I made the moves.
Both of our bodies of work were created in 2018. I had never heard of this photographer until that moment. I’m sure I have not been a blip on that photographer’s radar either. It’s kind of beautifully amazing that we both shared the same vision and created a very similar piece of work. I think it’s so important for artists to know this, too… that with the billions of people in this world, your idea may not be original. There is very little originality left in this world.
I was talking about this experience with my friend Amber one night and she said that it basically breaks down to who you know in the world and putting yourself out there. That has stuck with me. There are so very few times in this world where things really stick and drive me. This was one of those moments. I thought about what I wanted from all the projects I embark on. Did I just want to photograph people with stories and send a simple message on social media? Or did I really, truly want the world to see them? Did I want to hope that I’d die and my art would maybe become known or did I want to see the fruits of my labor of love while I was still alive? Alive it is!
Being a business owner is hard work. Being a self-promoting artist is hard work. It can be really tiresome sometimes. I spend more time “running” the business than actually photographing. But that’s for another blog post on another day. One can feel like you’re not being heard or seen so very easily. It’s in those moments where you wonder if it’s worth it. But it IS. Most definitely. So it is time for me to really focus on the art of what I’m doing, as I mentioned in my previous blog. It is also time for me to push myself out of my comfort zone and really try to get the work out there. The purpose of a lot of my project work is to help others know they’re not alone. It is to try to break barriers and start conversations. How can these conversations be had if the catalyst is sitting on a website no one knows about?
What I’ve learned from this experience is so much more than that I need to get my work seen. I learned that artists can have simultaneous ideas. I learned to protect my own work. I learned that the only person in my way is ME.
I took a look at Body is a Battlefield and decided to put into play what I have thought all along… it needs more diversity. It needs more representation. I have reached out via Facebook to find POC and those who are transgender either who have completed their transition or are in process. I’m also reaching out here.
If you are interested in being a part of this body of work please reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.