“Whether or not he has been influenced, every photographer legitimately claims every image he makes as uniquely his own. After all, even the acceptance of certain influences and the rejection of others is determined by- and revealing of- the photographer’s background, circumstances, temperament, sensibility, and self awareness. Each viewer must decide for himself exactly how interesting he finds the claim that the photographer has staked, at which point the subjectivity of the viewer’s taste and his knowledge of the history of photography come into play.
The choice of subject matter, even if it has already been exploited by someone else, is a statement of personal vision at a given moment, whether the tangible result of that vision strikes the viewer as innocent, calculated, trite, or revelatory. One sure sign of genius is the talent for giving new life to subjects, styles, and ideas that everyone else thought were exhausted. It is, in fact, precisely this revivifying spark that we seek most assiduously when we look at art. Doing something passionately can count for much more than simply doing it first-although real innovation, however crude, is never without a certain passionate brilliance.”
From Double Take, A Comparative Look at Photographs (1981) by Richard Whelan
From Photo Arts Magazine