I have been inspired by many many photographers, ranging from well known professionals, to lesser known photographers, artists, and particularly by some of the leaders and participants on workshops that I have run personally or with my partner in Open Studio Workshops.

In my view, there is huge benefit to studying the work of others, but there are also dangers.  Let me explain....

First, the danger.  I have known many photographers who have spent years of their artistic development emulating the style of one or more photographers whose work they admired.  As a 'beginner'  it's easy to do this, but it can also be a difficult rut to get out of.  However, far from helping the development of one's own photography I believe that this can easily inhibit it.  Copying avoids us having to understand and communicate our own feelings about the subject matter.  Instead, one interprets the scene in the way one expects the other photographer would have done.  The result can all too easily be formulaic photographs with little sincerity, honesty or creativity and a lack of personal development!

How should one treat others work to benefit one's own photography?  Steve Jobs said that "creativity was little more than connecting the dots that had not been connecting before".  The dots he was referring to are data absorbed into the brain, and connection a largely subconscious processing of that data.  It follows that creativity, which one could also consider to encompass artistic self-development, requires plenty of raw data, or 'dots'. So, give your brain plenty of material to work on; look at other's work, deconstruct it, learn from it but don't envy it, don't try to emulate it, just absorb it and let your subconscious do the rest!