My Big “Original” Mistake.


I’m pretty average in my struggles.  The same goblins that I see haunt other creative people, like to show up on my front door and camp out.

The Censor


Dealing with Criticism

All of them show up continuously, trying to torture me into learning the same lesson over and over again.

Well, just when I thought I had it under control again I had a really stupid thought.  It sounded something like this,

“Brooke, your photographs aren’t creative or original enough. Why bother posting images from your photography sessions if they just look like the millions of other images you see everyday.  No one wants to see another family. Another children’s session. Another portrait shoot.  You might as well stop posting your sessions unless you can whip out something that defines creative originality.”

It was a very stupid thought.

And I listened.

I haven’t blogged most of my sessions since August 2010.

After a gentle nudge from a photographer friend, who expressed how she missed seeing my images, I started to analyze what had happened.

The anecdote was found a few days later in a blog post by David Du Chemin on the topic of originality.  

His first post, Originality is Overrated, really got the wheels turning.  But it was his follow-up post, Originality Part II that made the clouds part and angelic choruses declare that there was hope for me!  The post is full of incredible quotations from incredible people, but my true defining moment came  when reading these words:

“Our creative minds and hearts will flourish more, and create with greater faithfulness to who we are, if we stop making originality the goal and allow ourselves to be overtaken by the pursuit of  honest expression, play, and imagination. Be yourself. Do the work. The rest will follow”.-David Du Chemin

And the beautiful follow up by C.S. Lewis:

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
– C. S. Lewis

I’m going to stop pursuing originality.  Its about pursuing truth and honesty.  And hopefully you’ll see more images again around these parts 🙂

Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. She’s had plenty of life experience trying to be original.  Some triumphs come without trying (fingerprints, her distinctive laugh, and her preference for drinking straight buttermilk), but everything else in life really does end up to be a conglomeration of a million different inputs–and thus not completely original.  Pursuing truth, really is so much easier–and holds the perk of being original in the end, regardless.  Btw, buttermilk is much tastier than people think it will be.

Brooke teaches private photography lessons , online photography classes, as well as seasonal photography classes in Logan, Utah.

34 Responses

    1. Marcie! Thank you for wanting to share! You can still share, its the little link below the post that says “share with friends (they’ll thank you for it)!

  1. thanks for posting that-it was just what I needed. I was feeling much the same way, thinking my photos were too ordinary or not unusual enough. the new perspective helps!!

  2. great quotes!

    I really think self doubt is the achilles heel in every person who teaches or really puts themselves out there! I’ve just decided that even though every photo I take has probably been taken by someone somewhere (and probably been taken better) it’s unique and special even creative if you will to me.

    Don’t over analyze your pictures!! For the family who is standing in front of the camera your photos are special, not necessarily because they are the most unique angle, lighting, and location but because you took the time to freeze that moment in time that generations will look back on! All the rest of your “magic” is a big bonus! 😉

    I can’t wait to see what you have been working on!!

  3. Wow! Love that take on pursuing truth instead of concentrating solely on originality. Wonderful read as always 🙂 I would really love to see more of your images because your fantabulous!!! Much appreciation to all that you share. Thanks 😉

  4. Thanks so much for this. It was very encouraging, and you can NEVER go wrong using quotes from C.S. Lewis.

  5. I’ve missed your pictures. I started to wonder if you were taking a break. I’m so glad that you are going to start posting more again soon because everything you do is incredible!

  6. Thank you for this. I really struggle with this, too. I’m just starting out and the originality and creativity goblins really like to toy with my head.

    Look forward to seeing your images more often on your blog! 🙂

  7. Brooke – Oy, this one brought me to tears; really hits home reading through those posts about your “goblins.” Like many of us, I’m ever so hard on myself. Though I’ve been involved with photography intermittently though many years, I’m relatively new to “the business.”

    The product of growing up in the foster care system and essentially an orphan, I have a lot of those “goblins” that I allow to pester me as well (the censor is a biggie).

    Anyhow, I wanted to say. I admire your work so. Truthfully, I admire the work of quite a few photographers and I have been ogling yours for a short while now. I follow many via Facebook and, undoubtedly, a lot of my recent growth is because I finally committed to invest in my dreams. There is quite a bit of talent out there, but your words, your posts – the inspiration… it’s all amazing. And with all honesty, I can see it in your wonderful art. Genuine. Honest. Beautiful *AND* Multi-talented! Thank you for the inspiration and for sharing with others like myself. Top notch and the only photographer whose blog I now am a subscriber of.

    Okay – now I’m done sounding like a overzealous stalker-fan. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing more of you recent work.

    1. Gwen! What an honor to have you be a subscriber! Thank you so much for your kind words! We all have those censors. I suppose that is the challenge of life is to learn how to kick them to the curb 🙂 I so believe that we each have an amazing gift to offer the world in what we create and an opportunity to touch the lives of those we serve. Just imagine how much good we can all do when we believe in ourselves?! You’re wonderful! Thank you for your heartfelt comment!

  8. What a delightfully honest post! Who you are is expressed beautifully in the words, images and literally every where you go on your website!

    I believe, as photograhers, every photo we take is unique, individual and original! No one else stood in that exact same spot, at that exact same time, with the exact same unique, individual, precious person in front of their lens.

    Keep shining your work out there for us all to see Brooke! That way we can keep cheering each other on, as we pursue the special and unique gift of being photographers!

    1. Bronwyn! Beautifully stated. You are exactly right. Every image in reality is original. I suppose that is why pursuing truth and honesty will bring out the originality naturally. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Brooke- Somehow this post slipped past me in my reader. I’m so glad to read it. Can’t wait to see your photos again!

  10. Wow…you hit the nail right on my head! Brooke, did I need to read this tonight before I retired! Just as I am about to embark (seriously) on this photographic journey, I often find myself asking why…what will make my images any different or better than the nine thousand other photographers out there? And my answer has been I don’t know. Yet, as the more I try to stick myself in a spot, think of “creating” something original…the less I seem to share as well.

    All I can say is thank you for writing this post…and thank God for directing me to it tonight. Haven’t had time to read many blogs lately, but I always come back to yours. 🙂

    1. Oh Charisse! I’m so glad that you read this too! We all can get bogged down into the drama of originality. Really, we just need to be seeking to tell the Truth 🙂 Thank you for your comment!

  11. Hi Brooke, thanks for the honesty of being hard on yourself. It gives me the go ahead to keep shooting even when my little gremlin on my shoulder says,” it looks so like everyones elses.” I’m going to try and get into the lifestyle class…..can’t your examples, miranda

  12. You have to post your sessions. How else do you think it inspires the rest of us to look at our pictures differently. I love to look and get ideas for photo shoots. Keep posting!

  13. Hi Brooke! I just discovered your blog following a few links from digital photography school and I couldn’t be more grateful and happy that I did. Wow–your words are so calming, so inspiring and your pictures show the same radiance. I am a writer first and have just recently begun exercising my love of photography and I love your words of inspiration and thoughts on originality. It is often something we creative people continuously chase and beat our selves up over–to read this post was so refreshing. I will visit often! 🙂 I wanted to sign up for a class, but I see they are a hot ticket!! Next time 🙂

    1. Lisa!!! Thank you for stopping by! Your love of words and writing will play a huge influence in your photographic perspective! How neat to be able to draw upon both for creativity!

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