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Author Topic: develop ones own style...  (Read 46453 times)
amolitor
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« Reply #140 on: September 30, 2013, 05:19:03 PM »
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Excellent point, RSL! I think it is true of photography that style is EITHER meaningless when applied to photography OR is not a strong enough tool to identify the artist.

Making convincing photographs "in the style of" is simply far too easy.
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Floyd Davidson
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« Reply #141 on: September 30, 2013, 05:45:56 PM »
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I think I said that a style need not be effective to be a style, didn't I? I intended that, anyways.

You did indeed, and I was not clear enough with my comment.  It wasn't whether it has to be effective as a style, but what the effect is from a style that I was objecting to.

You said, "An EFFECTIVE style makes sufficient choices the same way to connect the set of pictures together visually, but leaves enough un-specified to permit variety and interest between the individual pictures in the set."

Connecting pictures visually is an irrelevant side effect of a well developed style, but is not a valid measure of the effectiveness of a style.  An effective style invokes an emotional response in the viewer.  Effectiveness is a measure of the quality of communications as the viewer looks at symbols in the image.  If the symbols are well formed the viewer will be affected in the way the photographer intended.

Your discussion arrises due to the basic errors in your definition.

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The dictionary definitions of "style" are all clearly talking about something more general than artistic style, or photographic style, so I'm not that interested in them. What matters is not global standardization of the word, but that I at least make clear what *I* mean when I use the word and, ideally, that more than one of us should agree on what the word means for the purposes of discussion. "style" is really a technical term, for our purposes.

So you have to define style every time you use it.  And perhaps end up like RSL and use different definitions at different times, none of which are what anyone else would normally expect the word to mean!

But lets look at the root of this, because the entire purpose of discussion is to communicate information.  That happens to be exactly what photography is too!  Hmmmmm...  same with other arts!  It turns out the dictionary definitions of style are all precisely talking about artistic style and apply absolutely to photography.

It's a bit of a tangent, but reading some of Rudolf Arnheim's works might be interesting. He was a "perceptual phsychologist" who wrote ground breaking texts such as "Art and Visual Perception".  He also published many shorter essays, and "Entropy and Art" is one that is very good and available online.  Enropy and Art

Back on track though,  the use of standard definitions is required if we are going to have useful discussions.  When everyone reads music from the same sheet the concert has value, and otherwise it is not much more than random noise.

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Feel free to propose your own definitions! Or, if you really must, you can fall back on the dictionary. It don't think those definitions are going to serve us well, though.

The only definitions that allow communications are standard ones.  If you want to put "style" in quotes every time you use it, and maybe then have to subscript each to denote which definition you've used, you 1) can't compare it with any other analysis of style, 2) can't possibly write with a concise effective style, and 3) are going to be misunderstood more often than not.

The point of discussion is communications.  That is exactly the same as photography.  Effective style is what helps the audience understand the message communicated.  Personal definitions are ineffective style.
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RSL
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« Reply #142 on: September 30, 2013, 05:47:39 PM »
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Fair enough, Andrew. I certainly agree with you that Adams abandoned some of the techniques of pictorialism but never abandoned pictorialism. As to the rest, we can agree, with a handshake, to disagree. Frankly, I don't think we're far apart.
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Floyd Davidson
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« Reply #143 on: September 30, 2013, 05:49:26 PM »
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In terms of pictorialism, though, we was absolutely a pictorialist.

Wow.  Maybe you should take a little time to research what "pictorialism style" means to everyone else.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 05:51:22 PM by Floyd Davidson » Logged

amolitor
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« Reply #144 on: September 30, 2013, 06:10:37 PM »
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Floyd, we're gonna have to agree to disagree.

Nobody can have a conversation about any complex subject matter if they have to stick to standard english. Engineering cannot occur without technical terms, just as a for instance. If you're going to insist on dictionary definitions of "style" then you're never going to be able to talk about artistic style. Which is fine with me.

There's still a thing I have described, which I call "style", which does not have and which deserves a name.

As for what pictorialism means to everyone else, I absolutely don't care about that. Insofar as pictorialism means anything to "everyone else" it means muddy gum bichromate prints, which is manifestly silly, and historically completely inaccurate. If everyone was wrong about Bauhaus, or Impressionism, it wouldn't change what Bauhaus was, nor Impressionism, and it wouldn't make everyone right. Unlike much of language, proper nouns aren't subject to popular vote.

I've actually read Robinson's work, and Adams embodies it *perfectly*, much better than Robinson ever did.

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amolitor
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« Reply #145 on: September 30, 2013, 06:13:35 PM »
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I concur, Russ. We're usually on the same page, but almost never on the same line of it Wink Somehow, we manage to be civil about it.
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RSL
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« Reply #146 on: September 30, 2013, 06:14:38 PM »
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We always have, and I suspect we always will.
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Floyd Davidson
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« Reply #147 on: September 30, 2013, 06:43:10 PM »
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I've actually read Robinson's work, and Adams embodies it *perfectly*, much better than Robinson ever did.

Have you read Lewis Carrol?  He did a rant about this...

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."

I'm interested in communicating, not being the master.
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amolitor
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« Reply #148 on: October 01, 2013, 05:59:10 AM »
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Sometimes you have to be the master, when standard english won't do. You know, whenever you're talking about something pretty specific in a pretty specific area of study. That's what technical terms are. Good ones are refinements and clarifications of the standard meanings, which is why mine is a refinement and clarification of the standard meaning for the purposes of discussions about art in general and photography in particular.

If you're worried about me changing it as I go, well, I've stuck to it for a couple years now, so I think maybe I'm ok on that front.
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Floyd Davidson
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« Reply #149 on: October 01, 2013, 06:12:22 AM »
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Sometimes you have to be the master, when standard english won't do. You know, whenever you're talking about something pretty specific in a pretty specific area of study. That's what technical terms are. Good ones are refinements and clarifications of the standard meanings, which is why mine is a refinement and clarification of the standard meaning for the purposes of discussions about art in general and photography in particular.

If you're worried about me changing it as I go, well, I've stuck to it for a couple years now, so I think maybe I'm ok on that front.


You're missing the point entirely.

If you'll use google and find two or three dictionaries and actually read what they say, you'll learn that the standard definitions of the word "style" very clearly do apply to art and to photography.  This claim that they don't is ignorant.

Also, learn what "term of art" means.
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amolitor
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« Reply #150 on: October 01, 2013, 06:41:35 AM »
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And now you're just being nasty, so I am going to ignore you henceforth.
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amolitor
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« Reply #151 on: October 01, 2013, 06:46:45 AM »
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As for personal style, there are certainly choices we start to make the same way over and over.

There are subjects we like, there are shortcuts we take, there are approaches to rendering that we use over and over. One might have more than one identifiable "personal style" or one might have none, depending on how deeply those ruts are worn.

The idea that the "personal style" somehow reveals the artist, however, is quite silly. Without knowing why the artist makes those choices, we know really nothing about the artist other than "the artist chose to make this". Was it for commercial reasons? Personal? Because a spouse likes it better that way? Because the sink in the darkroom is too small? Issues of style can inform biographical study, coupled to other material we might know something of the artist, to be sure.

Simply standing in front of a work of art will tell is, in reality, nothing about the artist. If the work strikes us as revealing the artist, this can be a powerful effect. It's false, but so what? Much of art is false. Just don't be fooled into thinking that you "know" the artist from the work, just enjoy the sensation.
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RSL
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« Reply #152 on: October 01, 2013, 06:59:12 AM »
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And now you're just being nasty, so I am going to ignore you henceforth.
Good idea. That's what I decided too, several posts back.
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amolitor
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« Reply #153 on: October 01, 2013, 08:12:14 AM »
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To address the original poster's remarks, if we take "style" in the making of art as being distilled into making a set of choices up front, the same way every time, then we can see that style need not be an end to a journey.

If we make almost no choices up front, if the "style" is simply "I like small canvases" then the road is long before us, almost anything is possible. The style is probably not recognizable as such, though.

If we make too many choices up front, so that every picture tends to look like every other picture, the road is very short. There is no wiggle room, the journey may indeed be said to be over.

Suppose we strike a good balance: I like small canvases, I mix my colors thus and not thus, I tend to like botanical subjects. Then we have a perhaps recognizable style, we have limited ourselves to an extent, and made the job easier. There is still a lot of wiggle room, there are still vastly many pictures we can paint. The style becomes a framework in which we work, rather than a cage in which we are constrained.

I view it a bit like working in sonnet form, for example. There are infinitely many sonnets that can be written, on infinitely many themes, but the form remains. The form saves us a lot of work by defining how big the poem is, which in turn defines a bunch of stuff. We needn't worry about how long to make the lines or how the rhymes should work, this is all sorted out for us. The sonnet form conversely creates a lot of work, because now our idea must be made to fit the form. Similarly with art and style -- be it personal style, or Vermeer's style or Turner's or Weston's. It limits, it grounds, it provides a firm basis on which to proceed, and it creates problems we must solve, all at once.

By employing a poetic form, or an artistic style, we connect each piece we make with other pieces made perhaps by others, perhaps by ourselves. This has, one supposes, some sort of value.

All that said, yes, too restrictive a set of choices can spell the end of a journey, and all the results pretty much come out the same. That would certainly be an undesireable outcome. Except, perhaps, for commercial artists, eh?

« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 08:13:54 AM by amolitor » Logged

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wmchauncey
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« Reply #154 on: October 01, 2013, 08:41:32 AM »
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Could we equate "having owns style" as "being in a rut" are they not synonymous?
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amolitor
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« Reply #155 on: October 01, 2013, 08:47:00 AM »
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Well, you may choose whatever definitions you like, really, but I don't think they're equivalent. I certainly don't think an artist need reinvent himself for every picture, and indeed I think that would be immensely damaging to the work.

Photography, especially, needs the support of a coherent portfolio to really be successful in this day and age, and art has always benefitted from the effects of portfolio. And what is a portfolio, if not a collection of stylistically connected pieces?

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Isaac
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« Reply #156 on: October 01, 2013, 11:53:07 AM »
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Could we equate "having owns style" as "being in a rut" are they not synonymous?

You could be in a rut skipping from style to style. These are independent notions.

(Alain Briot would caution us that "Personal discovery is not personal style", in his LuLa column How to Establish a Personal Photographic Style, Part Nine of Ten.)
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amolitor
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« Reply #157 on: October 01, 2013, 01:34:27 PM »
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I don't agree with everything Briot wrote, but I find it fascinating that he's pretty sure a "personal style" is a set of choices you make in advance.
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Isaac
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« Reply #158 on: October 01, 2013, 02:22:13 PM »
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Part of the sentence seems to be missing -- "in advance" of what? -- and what in the column gives you that impression?
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amolitor
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« Reply #159 on: October 01, 2013, 02:28:12 PM »
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In advance of making art in that style. Of course, you're making art as you go along, but at any given point the style is a set of choices that were in place when making the art.

Absent, of course, time travel.

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