South East Shore, Shark Bay, Western Australia
Phase One XF 150MP, Schneider Kreuznach LS 110mm lens, f4.5 @ 1/2000 second, ISO 50

What is inspiration? Some people suggest plagiarism is when you copy the work of one photographer, inspiration is when you copy 1000 photographers! We don't live in a visual vacuum and while the choice of images we see on social media is probably the result of an algorithm designed to give us more of what we already like, it's hard to walk out with a camera and not be influenced in some way by the images we have seen.

The trick, I think, is to make a point of enjoying and concentrating on photographs, photographers and artists whose work you like. This doesn't mean you walk out the door and copy what you have seen. Rather, on a subconscious level at least, you're aware of subjects, styles and approaches that resonate with you.

I'm in transit to Broome, having just finished a second workshop with Tony Hewitt in Shark Bay. Up in the air, there's no shortage of inspiration provided by the landscape below. It is an incredible landscape – or landscape and seascape. And while the wide vistas are impressive, for most of us it's the detail that makes the photograph. While we may see a huge island or a long beach, we concentrate on just a section, with an interesting shape or colour, and turn it into an abstract.

At school, one of my favourite artists was Yves Tanguy, a French surrealist painter. His abstracts were of organic shapes, reminding me of wet sand or melted wax dribbled and melted, presented as a landscape. The colours and tonality are wonderful and his work has stuck with me ever since.

From the plane, I saw these sand dunes, curved and lumped together in such a way that reminded me of Tanguy's paintings. Now, that's not completely true. I believe I first responded to the shapes of the sand dunes and then while processing the image, noted how similar they were to Tanguy's work. Does it matter how or why I responded? If I responded consciously or subconsciously? Not really, so what's the takeaway?

I think one of the reasons photographers develop a style or an approach is because of the inspiration they have taken from other artists and photographers. And from films, music and life generally. Inspiration is the life force of creativity. The challenge is to keep it as original as possible, accepting that there possibly isn't an original photo or thought left in our highly populated world, but at least it can be original and authentic for us.