"But no one is asking you to be original. We're asking you to be generous and brave and to matter. We're asking you to step up and take responsibility for the work you do, and to add more value than a mere cut and paste..."
As an artist, one of the greatest fears is being a 'copy cat' - not having your own original thoughts and ideas, presenting something that is the same as others. Even if this similarity is unintentional, it could be perceived as not and you'd be in danger of looking like a ideas poacher. (Think i just made that phrase up but I like it). We all feel things in different ways, have different thoughts and reactions, but so many of those can be so similar to others around us it's only natural there will be identical and related outcomes.
Within photography you can only truly create something unique by using what you feel, honestly and genuinely, inside your self. This might be very comparable to what someone else has done, but it's not the same. It's come from you.
I spend a lot of time looking at other people's work online and hard as I try, I often will draw comparisons. A healthy amount is good, you can strive to become better in your own practise and business methods, but it's a fine line between this and wanting to improve by being more like 'them' and 'their photos'. I feel that whenever I become slightly overwhelmed or lost with my work, I have to sit and think and look at the world through my eyes again, stripping away the thoughts and imagery of others and really think about why and what I'm doing. And then, it all falls into place.