Photography imitates life

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.” Eric Hoffer, philosopher

I don’t know anything about this philosopher but his quote rings true.


The thing about black bears is that they are always in fashion even though they pretty much all wear the same thing. Now if only I could pull that off!

It’s actually quite amusing to observe this behaviour as it happens. Watch two people enjoying a conversation and they will naturally mimic each other’s body positions. And it hardly stops there.

Sometimes we chase fashion back into style or use trendy words so often they lose all helpful meaning, all the while defiantly proclaiming our individuality. Of course I doubt it happens to you.

Photography is not immune. My internet travels reveal that I am not using the latest software forcing me to miss out on all the cool effects (thankfully the Urban Dictionary says the word cool never goes out of style). And it’s rare to see a complete set of wedding photos without someone caught jumping in the air. If imitation is flattery, the first person to make that image must be quite full of herself.

Now I wish I could say I was above all this imitation and flattery. Alas …

I was sitting in my truck photographing this gorgeous black bear when another vehicle pulled up behind us. My wife noticed the other photographer initially shot through the windshield (yikes). Later she told me that it didn’t take long to for him to open his window and rest his lens on the side mirror, just like me. I felt like a veteran showing a rookie the way. This flattery thing could be enjoyable.

Of course there was that other time when I was photographing hawks. Those creatures have an interesting way of swivelling their heads quickly then stopping abruptly. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it! Imagine my surprise when I found myself imitating the hawks’ head movement. Thankfully no one was watching that unintentional comedy routine.

Maybe Eric, the philosopher, could have expanded his observations.

_B5A3020, hawk

The stiff-necked look. I often imitate this one by accident. 


This one’s harder to imitate – but I’m working on it.

Latest Comments

  1. Sue says:

    Found you via Steve Boer – wonderful photos and a sense of humor to boot! Also, I heard you like animal butts…


  2. MJF Images says:

    “Absolutely”…Absolutely what? “That’s sick”…okay sick, really? It’s easy not to imitate others, just don’t pay any attention to them. Oh wait, that makes them think you’re selfish. You really can’t win.


  3. Phil Lanoue says:

    For a (short) while I adopted a habit of talking and moving like a police detective I knew who spoke in a sort of halting vocal manner and using a body language technique indicating he knew exactly what everyone was thinking.
    But as tourist season approached I started to behave more like the alligators.


  4. Dalo 2013 says:

    Oh, those Rocky Mountain Sheep get me every time…and then you continue to deliver the goods below – I am envious of the bear shot. I’ve only seen one in the wild, which with the help of my 400mm lens and x1.4 I was just able to make it out, barely 🙂 Wonderful, humorous post and a great way to start the weekend!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Seeing those bears closer is a thrill – I don’t tire of it. Hopefully you can have the opportunity some day. I am beyond pleased to help out with your weekend – thanks for that.


  5. pronghornwildlife2 says:

    Those hawk images are superb, yes they are quick to fly but have you noticed that when you want them to, when you are ready for that flight shot, they don’t. Like some people I know (not the flight thing).


  6. hannele says:

    Great topic, and fun to read (and see, of course)! The imitation thing does seem to exist in every part of life. I notice that if I spend a lot of time with a certain friend/person, I start using unusual words they use, and even construct my sentences differently. Before we moved here, I always noticed that my partner started speaking English with an Arabic intonation every time we visited his family in Morocco.

    We’re social animals, and it’s fun to observe that in ourselves (I think)!


  7. Mandy says:

    First bear photo of the year – yay!


  8. Steve Gingold says:

    It’s the power of suggestion, Lyle. And it’s how we learn. We start by imitating our folks and siblings, then our friends, then our heroes. Then we get married, at least many of us, and start to grow more like each other through the years.
    Anyhow, that guy saw that you were a pretty smart photographer and learned from your experience.


  9. Dick Trew says:

    The line dancing bighorn sheep are lovely. Do you happen to recall the tune?
    I think that the hawk might be a Swainson’s. Is that how you would call it? (They are stunning images. The stuff of mouse nightmares…)


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I was so busy trying to get the photo that I entirely missed the tune. Maybe the wind in the trees got them going!

      I believe it is a Swainsons – I seem to find more of them than other kinds. Mouse nightmares indeed – that’s part of the appeal.


  10. Karen says:

    I enjoy the commentary every bit as much as the photographs.


  11. Garden Walk Garden Talk says:

    I love your photo of the sheep in the header. They are sheep, right? I would like to imitate that image. I think the hawks have such interesting facial gestures and your captures of them are just wonderful. So often they look serious or mad and I know I should not pass on human emotions to them. I think we all imitate as artists to some degree. It is more like recycling creativity.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Yes the top photo is sheep – Rocky Mountain Sheep.

      My interest in hawks seems to know no bounds and you seem to share that. They truly are amazing creatures. I just wish they wouldn’t be so quick to leave.

      Recycling creativity – what a wonderful phrase! And it describes so well what happens so often. Truly original creativity is rare but worth the pursuit.


  12. Patrizia M. says:

    Molto bello quello che hai scritto e complimenti per le foto, sono eccezionali!!
    Saluti, Patrizia


  13. Lavinia Ross says:

    Great photos as always, Lyle! I am trying to picture you imitating that hawk…. 🙂


  14. Mary says:

    Great to see your work again, beautiful and breathtaking shots. Than you for sharing ~


  15. westerner54 says:

    I’ve been imitating you for quite some time now…(although that wasn’t me in the other car shooting through the windshield!)


  16. doug keech says:

    The last time I tried to imitate a sparrow eating a cracker I injured myself…but it was good lol


  17. Vicki says:

    What I find the most fascinating, (and it’s not humans imitating each other), is the way bird pairs imitate each other at times of rest and feeding. A bird couple both twist their necks in certain ways at the same time and I have several photos to that effect. I always finding it amazing.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      That’s so true. The symmetry is absolutely stunning at times. I was trying to look for a photo like that for this post buried in the thousands somewhere but got distracted by the sheep.


  18. Adeline berg says:

    Why do mom’s open their mouths while feeding their wee ones? Imitation is the best learning method, I.e., the cameraman!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I have learned a lot of good things through imitation. One of the odd ones was how difficult it was not to open my mouth when I was trying to feed our kids when they were small!


  19. Mike Powell says:

    I need to work on my imitations, because I sure wouldn’t mind getting shots like the amazing ones in this posting. Whatever you are doing really works well, though I suspect that for most of us, imitating your process would not yield such wonderful results. Nevertheless, your words are probably going to make me a bit self-conscious now as I test your theory about imitation and wonder if I am doing anything original.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      That reminds me of someone telling me about this researcher that was studying people’s self awareness. At one point he began to seriously doubt his own! It’s more humorous when other people are involved. I’m sure it’s out of context, but didn’t Solomon say there’s nothing new under the sun? I am typically a fan of analysis but there always comes a point when it becomes counter productive. I also think there is value in imitation and not just originality. Now you’ve got me thinking!


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