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Author Topic: develop ones own style...  (Read 50935 times)
RSL
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« Reply #40 on: September 20, 2013, 12:00:12 PM »
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Okay, I'm asking Rob whether or not he can tell the difference if the photographs he's looking at are ones he's never seen before.
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Rob C
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« Reply #41 on: September 20, 2013, 02:44:39 PM »
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I think I'd have no problems telling McCullin landscape from St Ansel. But that's because of style. McCullin's work - at least the little landscape of his that I've come across - is a gritty, dark extension of his look at war and hunger. A desperation heaves through it all; there's absolutely no attempt at concepts of traditional beauty. And we all know what AA looks like. There was a time in the 60s when I could spot a Bailey just by flicking open Vogue without trying to read the tiny captions. I could do the same with Barry Lategan, too. Sarah Moon impressed me so much that I sometimes felt that I was she - not that I felt that I could do what she did, just that I felt it emotionally, so deeply.

Hans Feurer was another man - still is - so distinctively capable with long lenses and open-air photography of exquiste girls in highly exotic clothes. His fashion photography still is, and his Pentax calendars were, beautiful.

Their identity (of those photographers) was a mixture of photographic style mannerisms, partly a product of themselves but also of the fashion editors who picked them because of the way they shot. In other words, I suggest that these icons became trapped in their own look and couldn't leave it because with it might have gone the bread, too. Of course, that assumes that they, or anyone else so distinctly gifted, can break out into something different. I suspect it becomes self-perpetuating.

But the problem is time-related, and, inevitably, exposure-related.

Time related, because whilst it was easy for me to guess who was who at the time, there have since been so many imitators that the originals have been swamped and their presence diluted. David Hamilton bust upon us as a master of fine-but-crisp grain, breathed-upon lenses and gentle girls making fantastical pastoral/rustic dreamscapes. Within a short time, he was aped in such concentrated manner as to lose his original individuality – he even had a go at shooting Venetian landscape (?) and still life in what I think might have been attempts to escape the rip offs. Of course, he might just have enjoyed the change, now and again.

So there it is: at one time, when the competition wasn’t there, these people shone like stars and were instantly identifiable to someone who was interested in the work. But now, it would be a guessing game.

Regarding HC-B, specifically. The more I see of the work of others of the era, the more I feel that they were a movement rather than a set of individualists. Ronis? Doisneau? HC-B? Sabine Weiss? Brassaï? If you see their work in collections together, unless you are capable of cancelling memory and, thus, identification of known pictures, it’s a hard call – a guessing game.

Perhaps it takes someone in the same genre – as myself in my fashion days – to really get to grips with what makes each of these persons an individual within that genre. For a while, the identification was instantly achievable by the look of the models: they all seemed to hang with specific guys, most of the time, and gave them a particular look that didn’t come over when they worked with different snappers.

But things can be perverse: at one period in my life when I was at the top of my fashion game, I did a lot of work for House of Fraser. I was asked up to a ‘do’ at their in-house advertising agency that used to be in Drury Street in Glasgow. I saw some, to me, amazing prints of my favourite muse pinned up on the wall. Anxious that somebody else was moving in, I asked the AD who the photographer was. He looked at me shocked, and remarked ‘what a cheap way of looking for compliments.’ It was my own bloody work, and I didn’t even remember or recognize it – so much for being busy!  I don’t believe the guy ever believed my innocence.

What chance really, really knowing somebody else’s work?

Rob C
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jjj
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« Reply #42 on: September 20, 2013, 07:54:21 PM »
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Which would show that you can find a photographer without a distinctive style, or a photograph not in the photographer's style.
So can't we have different styles then?
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wmchauncey
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« Reply #43 on: September 21, 2013, 09:48:05 AM »
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So can't we have different styles then?
The oblivious answer is "yes you can" but...would you not submit that the more "celebrated/finically successful photographers" have developed their own style and,
when they deviate from that "style" it would take them a period of time for their fan base to accept their "new" work.

My lack of knowledge leads me to this question...Who are the "celebrated/finically successful photographers" that are well know for their multiple styles?
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Rob C
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« Reply #44 on: September 21, 2013, 01:47:55 PM »
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The oblivious answer is "yes you can" but...would you not submit that the more "celebrated/finically successful photographers" have developed their own style and,
when they deviate from that "style" it would take them a period of time for their fan base to accept their "new" work.

My lack of knowledge leads me to this question...Who are the "celebrated/finically successful photographers" that are well know for their multiple styles?



I'm probably as far removed from having answers about today's lot as anyone else is - you really have to be in it to care enough to  notice, and my time expired a while ago...

Looking at Patrick Demarchelier's site again today, he still seems to be doing much the same thing, only better. Digital possibilities can work for and against an established style. In his case, I think I see several shots where the same model gets superimposed onto the one frame... it didn't happen in the old days - well hardly, because it cost a lot for editorial use  - and to me it just looks to be a cheap trick. So whether that's an improvement is something else. But the rest of his new work looks pretty damned good.

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #45 on: September 21, 2013, 03:46:33 PM »
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I'm asking Rob whether or not he can tell the difference if the photographs he's looking at are ones he's never seen before.

Do you agree that he answered yes?

Do you agree that he answered "because of style"?
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Rob C
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« Reply #46 on: September 22, 2013, 02:52:53 AM »
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1. Do you agree that he answered yes?

2. Do you agree that he answered "because of style"?


1. But I didn't quite say that. What I tried to convey was that there are idioms that seem to be tied to various individuals, and when those people are the first in their field to express them, you can associate the style/idiom/mannerisms with them, but when they become part of a wave of copycats, then the dilution makes it pretty much impossible: everyone looks the same.

2. Style exists, all right, and I think everyone left to their own devices has one. The problem is, not all styles are strong and neither are they always positive where they do exist. Consistently, if accidentally over- or underexposing your subject might eventually constitute style, but that's just poor technique, not artistic vision.

These are not even minefields - these are questions without answers because there are no answers, simply opinions.

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #47 on: September 22, 2013, 11:43:34 AM »
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Okay, I'm asking Rob whether or not he can tell the difference if the photographs he's looking at are ones he's never seen before.

1. Do you agree that he answered - yes, until their style is duplicated by others?

2. Do you agree that he answered - "Style exists, all right, and I think everyone left to their own devices has one"?
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RSL
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« Reply #48 on: September 22, 2013, 08:41:01 PM »
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Sorry, Isaac, I've actually been working -- building software in c#. It'll be a while before I can spend much time on LuLa, since I love software development as much as I love photography.

I agree that Rob said he could identify the difference between the work of some people working in the same photographic genre he worked in. Whether or not the difference can be called a "style" is a semantic question, and I'm not going to argue semantics.

In the end, the only guy I can think of who developed what I'd call a photographic "style" outside a narrow genre was William Klein. His "style" was out-of-focus, highlights-blown, shadows-blocked photographs that were said by some to show "immediacy." At first, few were willing to follow in his footsteps, so his photographs were distinguishable as a result of his unfortunate "style." But then, others rushed to copy him, and, as a result he no longer is identifiable by his "style," a kind of "style degradation" you mentioned. It's sort of a Gresham's law of photography. The bad always drives out the good. Same thing applies to music, painting, you name it.
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Dwight Adams
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« Reply #49 on: September 22, 2013, 10:02:35 PM »
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William Klein's style is raw and immediate. It builds on Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment" and, like the work of all great artists, has been simultaneously influential and controversial. The cultural dinosaurs will always cry foul and dismiss out hand anything that defies their narrow aesthetic sensibility, because genuine creativity makes them dyspeptic. However, I'm willing to bet that Mr. Klein's richly earned reputation will remain intact no matter what such nattering nabobs of artistic intolerance may say here.
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Rob C
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« Reply #50 on: September 23, 2013, 03:08:35 AM »
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William Klein's style is raw and immediate. It builds on Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment" and, like the work of all great artists, has been simultaneously influential and controversial. The cultural dinosaurs will always cry foul and dismiss out hand anything that defies their narrow aesthetic sensibility, because genuine creativity makes them dyspeptic. However, I'm willing to bet that Mr. Klein's richly earned reputation will remain intact no matter what such nattering nabobs of artistic intolerance may say here.


I think of Klein more in relation to his fashion work; in that context, and in my mind, I think it's futile to mention any comparison with HC-B because of the difference in genres.

Klein, Bailey, Sieff, Horvat - you can draw or research similarities in some of the work of all of these guys. One thing you must always remember about fashion, especially of the pre-digital times, is that peole would consciously use techniques to provoke and startle the viewer into at least some kind of reaction, set a mood for the 'now', as it were.

During the 60s and 70s at least, when I was active in the fashion world, there was a tendency to use wides a little more than might have been advisable. Sieff would attack models with a Leica and a 21mm (as well as other lengths and camera systems, of course) some Brits were slightly more conservative and went down to 35mm – myself included – and used these lengths quite close to the subject. As you can imagine, distortion was inevitable and the very reason for using such a wide; Nova, Vogue, many other fashion mags sported shots of girls with optic-elongated heads which, today, seems ridiculous, but in the day meant cutting-edge and marked the break from the ‘fashion plate’ ethic of most of the 40s and 50s fashion planet. Today, seems we have traded wides for the skills of the plasterer and the aerosol can.

However, there’s another forgotten factor: not all photographers had a sound grounding in photographic chemistry. Many came up through working for others in studios, where they learned to process, print and do all the backroom graft that comes before the display in the magazine. But there were also those who came out of nowhere, burst upon the scene by some chance and just did it, without any deep understanding of exposure, development or anything else that is remotely technical. Their blunders, if wrapped within an exciting, novel image, were enough to get them into the business; not surprising, then, that odd images emerged. Which, from an editorial view, was what it was all about. In fact, the split between editorial fashion and advertising fashion was almost unbridgeable, though some managed to ride both horses very well.
 
Then older I become, the less I believe in the existence of much art in photography – of any genre. There are some exceptions where the photographer is simply a painter using a different tool, but such people are rare and becoming extinct.

Rob C



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Isaac
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« Reply #51 on: September 24, 2013, 10:16:09 AM »
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I agree that Rob said he could identify the difference between the work of some people working in the same photographic genre he worked in. Whether or not the difference can be called a "style" is a semantic question, and I'm not going to argue semantics.

I don't think my grandmother knew the word "semantics" but she was fond of the phrase - Say what you mean, mean what you say.

My impression has been that when the facts don't support your opinion you choose different facts rather than change your opinion, and that's all I expected from this discussion.
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RSL
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« Reply #52 on: September 24, 2013, 04:28:30 PM »
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Isaac, go shoot some pictures and post 'em so we can see your "style."
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jjj
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« Reply #53 on: September 25, 2013, 05:20:39 AM »
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I agree that Rob said he could identify the difference between the work of some people working in the same photographic genre he worked in. Whether or not the difference can be called a "style" is a semantic question, and I'm not going to argue semantics.
Uh, that's not a semantic question. The difference is precisely because of their individual styles.
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jjj
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« Reply #54 on: September 25, 2013, 05:23:44 AM »
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Isaac, go shoot some pictures and post 'em so we can see your "style."
Didn't know Isaac actually did photography!
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stamper
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« Reply #55 on: September 25, 2013, 08:04:33 AM »
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I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say he doesn't know how do attachments?
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« Reply #56 on: September 25, 2013, 08:10:17 AM »
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....or websites.
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wmchauncey
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« Reply #57 on: September 25, 2013, 08:41:34 AM »
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Yeah, I'm new to the LL Forum but, I was under the assumption...which we all know how to spell, ass-u-me...
that those that respond to my queries are somewhat knowledgeable of the art/craft of photography rather than merely skilled in the art/craft of rhetoric.
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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
RSL
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« Reply #58 on: September 25, 2013, 09:55:40 AM »
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Uh, that's not a semantic question. The difference is precisely because of their individual styles.

Hi jjj, Yes, I think you can develop a style in studio work. You can concentrate on a particular type of model, a particular type of background, a particular type of lighting, etc., etc., etc., all of which can create a feeling I'd be willing, barely, and very reluctantly, to call a style. Reluctantly because none of that comes close to the individualism of the brush strokes rendered by a painter like Van Gogh.

But outside the studio there's no such thing as a photographic style. Concentrating on a particular subject -- southern U.S. poverty, for instance, in the case of Walker Evans, or Parisian street scenes, in the case of HCB, or rocks and trees in the case of Ansel Adams -- doesn't constitute a style. Yes, Ansel was a superb printer, but so were, and are, a lot of other people, so, Eric Meola and Isaac to the contrary notwithstanding, Ansel simply didn't have a "style."
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« Reply #59 on: September 25, 2013, 10:47:22 AM »
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Yeah, I'm new to the LL Forum but, I was under the assumption...which we all know how to spell, ass-u-me...
that those that respond to my queries are somewhat knowledgeable of the art/craft of photography rather than merely skilled in the art/craft of rhetoric.

Why would anyone make such an assumption?  There is no restriction allowing only those with any given knowledge to post.  Moreover, having some specific knowledge doesn't mean using it either.

Suggesting that photography is not art, is nothing more than an absurdity posted to get attention.

Suggesting that there are no styles of photography, or that some specific type of photography such a studio work, cannot really have distinct styles is the same.  It attracts attention and allows an assertive personality to brow beat a less assertive personality.  It's a psuedo-effective style of rhetoric.  Which of course means that it is a substitute for valid commentary.
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