I just did! “Steal like an Artist” is a book by Austin Kleon, in which he states that nothing is completely original; all creative work builds on what came before. Even Picasso was a creative kleptomaniac!
So, here I am divulging that I have stolen a few poses from two portrait photographers whose work I adore and admire. Sue Bryce is not only a talented photographer, she is a gifted teacher, and openly shares her posing secrets to thousands around the world. Below (right) is her photo, and (left) is mine, with Ben, a Malian/French/American soon to be police officer (crossing my fingers).
Now I have put Ben into a pose by Annie Leibovitz. This is Annie’s ‘go-to’ pose for men. I’ve seen her use it on Daniel Day Lewis, Robert De Niro, Mark Jacobs, and a few others – most people wouldn’t even notice it’s the same pose, used over and over. Each portrait is unique, like the person in it, for we each have our own individual mannerisms, expressions, and way of carrying ourselves.
Here is Ni Mo (left), a tennis player from Réunion, a small French island near Madagascar. He holds his own against Eddie Redmayne, in a publicity shot for Les Misérables, again by Annie Leibovitz. Eddie was a model before he became an actor, and Annie had a team of assistants and expensive lighting equipment. I used natural light in a dance studio, with borrowed clothes, 20 minutes, and a load of enthusiasm.
In Chinese painting, the tradition of ‘copying’ the old masters is considered crucial to the learning process. I had a blast with these guys, and learned so much during their shoots. No matter what stage you are at as an artist, there is always room for growth. So, steal like an artist – you never know where it may lead!
(Many thanks to Ben, Ni Mo, Sue and Annie.)