It has always been important for me to wrestle with my influences. In college I studied under Joel Sternfeld. At the time, I was sort of embarrassed by his influence, so I made work that was as different as possible. But that was a waste of time. It was only when I worked through his influence that I really started to grow. Over time, you begin to understand influences and the nuances of what makes your own work different.
Photography is a language. To communicate, you need to learn the language. The history of photography is like the vocabulary and influence is like a dialect. One shouldn’t be embarrassed about having an accent. That said, it has been important for me to reevaluate those influences as the years go by.