By Scott Shephard
Several years ago George Harrison was sued for allegedly plagiarizing a song performed by the 1960s group the Chiffons. The title of their song was "He's So Fine." Harrison's song was "My Sweet Lord." A settlement was reached, though Harrison said his plagiarism wasn't intentional and that the copying must have been subliminal. For a long time after this incident, Harrison said he was afraid to write anything new because he was worried that he couldn't avoid being influenced by music he had heard before.
And that brings me to this olive grove in Corfu. At the time I took this photo (2007), I was only thinking about the interesting textures and lines of these trees. But today, as I look at it, I realize that it's got Vincent van Gogh written all over it, for van Gogh, who is probably my favorite artist, did many paintings of olive groves. I had certainly seen several of his olive tree paintings. Was I channeling van Gogh subliminally when I was framing this photo? Probably. But don't sue me - I have an explanation.
I remember telling a photography class once that everything that we had done, seen, felt and experienced in our lives influences our photography. The more we know, the more we see; and the more we see, the better we are as photographers.
Ezra Pound, the 20th century Modernist poet, is famous for having said, "Make it new" in calling for poets to break from the bonds of artistic tradition. But, if you ask me, almost all art is synthesis. The creative process depends on and is benefited by what others have created before. And except for the amputated ear, a tormented spirit and death by suicide at an early age, I'm proud to walk in van Gogh's footsteps.
Canon 5 1/60s f/5.6 ISO320 28mm
Here's van Gogh's take on an olive grove