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Finding My Voice and other advice (4 replies and 2 comments)

4 months ago
Fend115 4 months ago

Hi everyone!

While I do not post very often on the forums, I do check in quite a bit and always enjoying seeing the open and engaging conversations that are had. Today I have one (or possibly) two questions for anyone that cares to answer. It may be a lengthy post so I apologize in advance lol...

I have just graduated from college and am currently working on expanding and improving my online presence. A fellow photographer who was kind enough to hold a short interview with me recommended that I try to develop my own "style" in my images and show that style as often as I can. While this is great advice and I totally agree, I find myself in a bit of a difficult situation. For years I have made it a point to not confine myself to one particular style and to continually push myself to try and develop new looks and types of images, so that I present a range of looks instead of one that can be recognized as "mine".

While I feel I have succeeded for the most part in this mission, his advice made me think about something I had never pondered before. Seeing as I have spent the last few years trying to evade the concept of a style, how do I comb through my catalog and discover my own? How will I know what makes an image mine?  Is it too late for me or do you feel that I will be able to find enough images that are similar to each other in either composition or tone that I will be able to successfully find my own unique image style? I will attach a link to my Instagram so that anyone who wants to see examples of my work may take a look, my online portfolio is also included in my bio on the chance that anyone is interested in delving further into my work (»). I am open to any and all advice or critiques that anyone may have when it comes to this. 

Additionally, if anyone has any advice for someone who is just starting out in the photo industry, I am all ears 🙂

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your responses!

Roger Deakins
3 months ago
Roger Deakins 3 months ago

I'm not sure what you mean by 'combing through your catalogue' to find your own style. Doesn't that inform every image you take? If not, why do you take a photograph in the first place? What takes your eye?

3 months ago

I think, to rephrase my question maybe a bit more succinctly and clearly, I have a very varied catalog of work. With one of my main focuses being to not have a discernable "style" or "through line" in my work, I worry about trying to create a portfolio to show to clients that can show them what would be considered my own "style". I hope that makes sense!

3 months ago
dmullenasc 3 months ago

Do you have to consciously develop a personal style? Shouldn't it arise organically from your personal visual taste combined with experience and practice over time? I've thought about this too, but I think limiting yourself to an arena you think of as "your style" could come off as forced if you are not careful.

3 months ago

That's a very interesting point of view! I personally don't like the idea of limiting myself to a certain style or aesthetic, but I have been told it may be more beneficial to have a portfolio which expresses my own style to clients.

2 months ago
IKM 2 months ago

Hi there! To have an answer to this, there is only one question in my opinion: what do you enjoy shooting most?

Which leads to the second question: Do you want to earn money with what you enjoy shooting most or do you want to reserve this just for yourself?

If not, then you can have something like two or even more creative identities. The professional one earning money with for example, commercial fashion photography (or wedding, or sports or whatever) and the other one, doing what you enjoy most. If you want to combine both, stick to what you really love and then try to make that a profession. Note that each and every field works differently and some genres of photography need a different approach to earn money with them.

If you enjoy shooting everything, it will be very hard to determine what kind of photographer you are and what you want to say with your work. Imagine a book or a movie dealing with 20 topics all at once. It would be very hard to distinguish what the artist wants to say.

So if you just want to keep it a hobby and enjoy capturing everything around you (which is a good thing to do in the beginning anyway), then just follow your heart and enjoy the process. If there are specific areas you care most about, then stick to one genre that fits that area(s) and develop your style over the years. If you miss other genres, you can always include them in your work for yourself or build a second creative identity around that. Hope that helps! Cheers.

'Oh, what I know, anyone can know - my heart is mine alone.'

2 months ago
MiguelMas 2 months ago

Style is something that is imposed - Vision comes from your eye-mind-experience combined with your skills to bring a new way of seeing to every shot...  Irving Penn and Richard Avedon had distinct ways of lighting and shooting different subjects. They had approaches to portraiture that were poles apart. Penn would often be totally silent with his subjects - waiting for the moment their discomfort with silence caused them to drop their "mask" - Avedon would often try to provoke his subjects into showing a side that was not the one they started off presenting to the camera. Roger and David are masters of the medium. I recall reading where they have both said that "style" is not something a cinematographer should bring to a shoot. That the  look  of the particular project should grow out of the story and the director's vision aided and abetted by the cinematographer's skill in realizing that vision in a way that does not call attention to any "style" of shooting.

What you really have to offer is your vision an your skills at helping a director achieve their vision for the shoot.



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