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Author Topic: develop ones own style...  (Read 46665 times)
wmchauncey
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« on: September 17, 2013, 08:00:46 AM »
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Let me start by saying that I derive virtually no income from this hobby of photography, although I do/will not hesitate to donate.
For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment.
I visited an art show a couple of weeks ago and took 30 minutes to watch a painter cough out an image...that's all the time he needed. He had developed his style and it never changed.  Is that "Art"...I would hope not.
Imagine, just for a moment, that there is nothing left for one to learn, that the journey had ended...
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Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2013, 08:32:48 AM »
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Man, thou hast both begun and ended thy journey too soon.

Rob C
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PeterAit
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2013, 09:40:57 AM »
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I agree with you - mostly. I think that making it a goal to develop a style is just plain foolish. I suppose there might be a practical reason for it in the commercial world, where an identifiable photographic style might be of marketing use. But for the fine art/amateur photographer, no. Would you pass up a wonderful photo because it's not your "style?" I would hope not.

That being said, some people do in fact develop a style - not as a conscious goal but as a natural result of their development as an artist. That's a different matter.
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Peter
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RSL
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2013, 10:02:19 AM »
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Wm, Peter, how do you guys feel about Van Gogh? Gauguin? Both developed styles that were as personal as any I've ever seen, but once they'd developed those styles they didn't switch to painting caricatures at art shows and county fairs. Both artists' work continued to grow until Van Gogh committed suicide and Gauguin succumbed to syphilis.

But neither of these guys set out to "develop a style." Their styles leapt from their personalities to their canvasses through their hands. Attempting consciously to "develop a style" is absurd. What IS a "style" in photography? Can you define HCB's "style?" I can't. His work was superb, but how would you describe his "style?" If there's a "style" in photography it has to do with the subjects upon which the photographer focuses. So, I guess you'd say Ansel's "style" was rocks and trees, but to me the best shot Ansel ever made was "Woman Behind Screen Door."

The "mantra" of developing one's style in photography has been invented by people with too much time on their hands and not enough artistic ability to make decent photographs.
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WalterEG
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2013, 12:09:43 PM »
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Each of us is an individual and we each have our own style whether we think we do or not.  Just be yourself and don't let others encourage you to falsify what you do.

W
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Isaac
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2013, 12:43:03 PM »
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For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment.


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My style has evolved, but there is a unifying thread; when you look through my portfolio, it looks like it came from one hand.

page 27

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I define my style as "cinematic portrait photography." My work combines classic influences such as that of the Dutch master painters, with references to contemporary themes from film and television. But I didn't come to this artistic identity overnight. It took a great deal of time and effort to home in on my unique personal vision, and then to develop the technique to make it a reality. In many ways, I had to reject some of the current trends toward fast-click photography and slow myself down, examine the process and concentrate on the fundamentals of what I was doing. This has been an ongoing endeavor. An artistic style is forever evolving and improving upon itself.

page 22

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... I've crafted a style that emphasizes mood and atmosphere, where my treatment of shadows can be dramatic or subtle, depending on my objectives for the image. I underexpose my backgrounds to create a darker, moodier look with a smoothed-out, painterly effect, placing the emphasis on the subject. The colors, the tones, and the mood from the backgrounds feed into the colors, tones, and mood on the faces of my subjects. Above all, there is a carefully crafted harmony between all the elements in the image, so the final composition looks real but idealized. The lighting and other techniques shouldn't be so dramatic that they take over the image. There's drama, but just a touch; everything is integrated.

page 29

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My style is important -- after all, I get hired because the client is seeking a particular look -- but the style must serve the ultimate purpose of the image, which is to sell something.

With fine art portraits, the purpose of the image is entirely different. Photographers who create fine art imagery aren't trying to sell a product or get people to aspire to a certain lifestyle. It is all about the photograph. Fine art images come together in a series to tell a unifying story as well, but ultimately it all comes back to the photograph.

I mention the differences between these two kinds of photography because it is so important for photographers to create for themselves as well as for their occupation. That's how you develop a style, by mixing on-demand creativity for clients with the complete artistic freedom of your personal photography. One informs the other, and ideally each sphere of your work will help you improve the other and grow as a total photographer.

page 30  Photographing Shadow and Light: Inside the Dramatic Lighting Techniques and Creative Vision of Portrait Photographer Joey L."
« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 12:54:46 PM by Isaac » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2013, 01:08:16 PM »
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Each of us is an individual and we each have our own style whether we think we do or not.  Just be yourself and don't let others encourage you to falsify what you do.

W


You are right, if you mean beware of changing what you do naturally.

When I was young, I must have looked at thousands of different mags and shooters, and knew instinctively those I'd like to see again and those that held no interest.

From all of that, though not by attempting the virtually impossible - copying another's image/style, I mean - I found myself, by natural evolution, doing things in a certain way that I was totally unable to change: I was being myself - who else could I possibly be? Yes of course, one might ape Sarah Moon, but to do it convincingly, one would have to use the same little hats, the same makeup artist that she used at whichever period if her life one wanted to cheat. And even then, when trying to impress another shooter familiar with her oeuvre, I suspect that one would have to copy an actual photograph before the rip-off became apparent.

I think a photographer’s identity shines out through a whole: it’s a holistic element; you can’t do it in bits.

Rob C

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Isaac
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2013, 04:06:02 PM »
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So, I guess you'd say Ansel's "style" was rocks and trees...

Here's what Eric Meola did say -- "... pantheistic landscape images that through the sheer mastery of printmaking, tried to reflect not only God in nature, but God as nature ..."
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2013, 04:13:54 PM »
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Let me start by saying that I derive virtually no income from this hobby of photography, although I do/will not hesitate to donate.
For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment.
I visited an art show a couple of weeks ago and took 30 minutes to watch a painter cough out an image...that's all the time he needed. He had developed his style and it never changed.  Is that "Art"...I would hope not.
Imagine, just for a moment, that there is nothing left for one to learn, that the journey had ended...
You are making a very incorrect assumption and that is that developing a personal vision or style reaches a fixed point. IT never does. It is a perpetual quest that evolves, changes and transforms through time.
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Kirk

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RSL
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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2013, 04:21:45 PM »
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Here's what Eric Meola did say -- "... pantheistic landscape images that through the sheer mastery of printmaking, tried to reflect not only God in nature, but God as nature ..."

So Ansel wasn't really a photographer? Ansel was a printmaker?

I read Eric Meola's essay. I cracked up when I read: "It is for photographers to not only (sic) document that architecture, but to use it to find a new way of seeing, and to embrace photography as another, valid means of expressing an abstract vision."

Wow! Now there's a guy who's really working at "developing his own style." Looking at his photographs I'd say he desperately needs some canvas, some brushes, and some paint.
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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2013, 05:13:03 PM »
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You are making a very incorrect assumption and that is that developing a personal vision or style reaches a fixed point. IT never does. It is a perpetual quest that evolves, changes and transforms through time.



That's the perfect echo of what I'd written some posts back:

" Man, thou hast both begun and ended thy journey too soon.

Rob C "

;-)

Glad we share some common cerebral space!

Rob C
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2013, 05:21:33 PM »
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That's the perfect echo of what I'd written some posts back:

" Man, thou hast both begun and ended thy journey too soon.

Rob C "

;-)

Glad we share some common cerebral space!

Great minds.........Smiley

Rob C
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Thanks,
Kirk

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jjj
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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2013, 06:15:35 PM »
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Attempting consciously to "develop a style" is absurd.
This ⬆

Not something that the numerous magazines/websites/teachers like to mention, as they like to [literally] sell a very different story.
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Isaac
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« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2013, 08:19:02 PM »
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That flat assertion -- Attempting consciously to "develop a style" is absurd. -- is immediately undermined when RSL explains that he doesn't know what a style is in photography; literally, not knowing what he's talking about.

« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 08:55:24 PM by Isaac » Logged
jjj
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« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2013, 02:36:15 AM »
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Be that as it may. The specific sentence I quoted is however still true.

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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2013, 02:54:22 AM »
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Of course Russ knows what he's talking about, as does jjj.

Both chaps have mileage and the work to show for it. Where the problem lies is in the concept that photographic art can be taught. Unfortunately, all that can be taught is technique and how-to. You can't teach people vision nor can you teach them how to think in a creative manner: that is spiritual - your spirituality.

Teaching will, unless you are pretty thick, empower you in the use of a machine. I believe that perhaps the most valuable 'photography' course you could embark upon today would be one dedicated to the use of Photoshop. In today's climate, I think that's even more important than mastering totally the mechanics of your exposure machine, many of whose functions you will probably never, ever use. I have no idea about many of the geegaws on the D700 and I could not care less about them: they have no rôle in my life; why carry the burden of yet more useless knowledge. Respect your grey cells; give 'em a break! All Hemut needed was a basic Rolleiflex TLR! Not much to learn about that!

Rob C
« Last Edit: September 18, 2013, 08:50:58 AM by Rob C » Logged

wmchauncey
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« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2013, 08:21:29 AM »
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Where the problem lies is in the concept that photographic art can be taught. Unfortunately, all that can be taught is technique and how-to. You can't teach people vision nor can you teach them how to think in a creative manner: that is spiritual - your spirituality
Totally agree...the mechanics of photography of the craft can be taught to any left-brained creature, like myself...the right brainers may have difficulty in this area.
But. once those basics are within your grasp, the right brainers huge advantage in creativity takes over and leave folks like myself in their dust.
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The things you do for yourself die with you, the things you do for others live forever.
A man's worth should be judged, not when he basks in the sun, but how he faces the storm.

My stuff...http://1x.com/member/chauncey43
iluvmycam
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« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2013, 09:12:12 AM »
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Let me start by saying that I derive virtually no income from this hobby of photography, although I do/will not hesitate to donate.
For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment.
I visited an art show a couple of weeks ago and took 30 minutes to watch a painter cough out an image...that's all the time he needed. He had developed his style and it never changed.  Is that "Art"...I would hope not.
Imagine, just for a moment, that there is nothing left for one to learn, that the journey had ended...

Everybody has their opinion. Sure a style kind of defines you and may pigeon hole some if they are not flexible. But it is all up to the individual if they want to be set into a style or not. I shoot all sort of styles. Here is my second book I'm doing. Shot in the ‘style of’ Bruce Gilden...if he shot color!

(nude warning)

http://ifreeztime.tumblr.com/

Prior to that is was style of Carteir-Bresson, Diane Arbus and Les Krims...Everything has already been done with photography for the most part. We all shoot 'in the style of' the masters that have gone before us.

Photography is the easiest art ot get into and hardest art to develop a style in. So I applaud any photog that can be recognized by their work only.

« Last Edit: September 18, 2013, 09:15:21 AM by iluvmycam » Logged
KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2013, 09:54:07 AM »
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"Writing well consists of thinking, feeling and expressing well, of clarity of mind, soul and taste .... The style is the man himself"
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

In this case, "writing" can be said to include the "graphy" part of "photography".

IME (such as it is), the temporal goal is to discover and give voice to who one is _as an artist_ -- who is that (wo)man who makes things?  And yet most of my students (I have some experience teaching painting, but not a lot) begin their search with the assumed goal of being someone they are not.

WalterEG (upthread) said this well.
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RSL
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« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2013, 09:54:35 AM »
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. . .all that can be taught is technique and how-to.

Right, Rob, and as HCB pointed out, "how-to" can be self-taught from that little book that comes along with the camera, and, in his day, the beautiful leather case. Then there's Elliott Erwitt who was asked to teach a class on photography and who asked in return, "What is there to teach?"

As far as photographic "style" is concerned, I'd challenge anybody on here to identify even a famous photographer on the basis of his "style" by viewing a picture he's never seen before. Yes, Isaac, I can identify HCB as the photographer when I see one of his pictures because I've seen virtually all the pictures he ever released. But were I to see an unfamiliar one of his I probably wouldn't have a clue who shot it.

On the other hand, I think I pretty reliably can identify a Van Gogh or a Gauguin, even if I've never seen it before, though there are copies out there that can, and often do, fool even the experts. You simply don't develop a "style" with a machine.
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