Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 21

Thread: Developing your own style

  1. #1

    Developing your own style

    What are you views on this article?

    http://www.bythom.com/

    How Thick is Your Skin?
    June 20 (essay)


    ...

    "Finally, you come to realization that all the great images came about because the photographer was trying to do something unique, that fit their own interests, interpretation, and goals. Most of the pros being hired by others do this. You don't hire Annie Liebowitz for any reason other than she's figured out she likes to do portraits, likes to do them in ways that reflect her notion of the person, and likes to do it by capturing more than a face or an expression, and does them better than most everyone else. You don't tell Annie what to do. You hire Annie to do what she does.

    ...

    In the end, what you think of my work or what I think of yours doesn't matter. It's what I think of my work and what you think of yours that does. Sure, it's nice to get validation once in awhile, and it's fun to have intelligent conversations about one's work with peers, but all those hundreds of decisions that get made while taking a photograph are yours. You need to have a self-aware lamp lit inside you guiding you when you take images, not wonder what decision someone else would make."

  2. #2
    gcowan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Sydney Australia
    Posts
    269
    Real Name
    Graham

    Re: Developing your own style

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    What are you views on this article?

    http://www.bythom.com/
    Broadly speaking this is exactly right, but you need to get to the point of translating your ideas into reality. For that you need to develop technique, and getting your peers opinions and ideas is a good way of developing that technique.

    Ansell Adams called it pre-visualisation but then went on to write 4 complex books on translating the vision onto a print.

    There is a bewildering array of possibilities and you need some sort of guidance through the maze, whether is is a formal course, or a website like this one or a helpful forum like this. That may bring you to the point where you can translate your vision. Even at that point though if no one likes your images then you won't sell them or bring anyone a little pleasure in viewing them. Surely that is the point to communicate an idea or to bring some pleasure to others.

    Graham

  3. #3
    jiro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Manila, Philippines
    Posts
    3,804
    Real Name
    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Developing your own style

    Good point there, Graham.

    The question with Thom's statement is: At what level exactly are you right now when it comes to smoothly transferring the vision you have in your mind to the images that you are capturing with your camera and manipulating it in post-processing? That's the advantage of internet forums or if you have the money to enroll yourself to one-to-one correspondence with some photographers that shows the style that you want to achieve.

    If you lack the necessary basic foundation in photography like achieving good exposure from shot to shot, when to use shallow or deep depth of field, when to blur or to apply stop motion using shutter speed, lighting control, etc, etc... how would you then say that the comments of others who are maybe more advanced than you are are not important or even matter to you? You may say to yourself "my shot is great!" but as soon as other advanced photographer sees your shot he immediately throws it in the trash bin. Ouch! It would hurt your ego a lot, won't it? But if you are really in the pursuit of photographic excellence you would ask this photographer a straight question and say: "What's wrong with my picture? It looks fine to me." Then because he "cares" for your welfare and wish you to advance further than the mediocre state that you are in he'd probably say "Your exposure is off, practice more in this aspect. You don't have a definite strong main element, it's all just a snap shot. Study more about composition. Your images does not solicit a strong emotion to involve me nor any audience, look deeper as to who you really are inside and show it on your images." That would make you think a lot, won't you?" A good student listens... and analyze. A bad student is well... that's another story.

    Now, the other side of the coin is this: if the critic seems to give comments that actually sways you to go to the road of despair (which means his comments are really way off and not helping you at all) then by all means don't listen. You still have to develop that special intuition to tell whether this guy really wants to help you or not. That is why a visual example is still in my opinion the best way to tell a guy why his image seems to lack that "magic touch" to be a winning shot.

    For me, what i think about my work sure does matter. What others think about my work also matters a lot to me because I know deep inside me I am still not in that level to say that I can easily translate the idea that I have in my mind to the images that I want others to see. That is why I join some forums hoping that some "masters" or beings that are more advanced in post-processing or photographic skills than me would guide me. I have no problem comprehending Thoms' statement. It's just that it's not for everyone because we all are not in the same as Thom right now. That's all folks. Time for coffee break.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Western MA, USA
    Posts
    388
    Real Name
    Tom

    Re: Developing your own style

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    What are you views on this article?

    http://www.bythom.com/
    I think he may have a point for professional photographers -- Annie Liebowitz was trying to get hired when she developed her own style. For most of us, having a style is an affectation, not a goal. I am trying to communicate something when I take a photo, but I have no interest in differentiating myself from my competition -- because there is nothing competitive about my hobby. If I can communicate what I am trying to capture in a way that is low-key, that is not a problem for my vacation photos or my family portraits. If I am trying to garner more business each time I take a photo, I need to have a "hook" that has nothing to do with communication, but everything to do with commerce. So there is a dimension to commercial work that just doesn't apply to anything that I do as a hobbyist.
    Last edited by tclune; 21st June 2011 at 03:20 PM.

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    12,455
    Real Name
    Richard

    A question to ponder...

    Are a photographer's images based on his or her style or is the photographer's style based on his or her images?

  6. #6

    Re: A question to ponder...

    For me, what i think about my work sure does matter. What others think about my work also matters a lot to me because I know deep inside me I am still not in that level to say that I can easily translate the idea that I have in my mind to the images that I want others to see.
    Jiro, you have hit the nail bang on the head with this. Whether your photography is artisan or artistic it has one common purpose...communication. It is important that we get feed back on the effectiveness of our communication skills. To say we don't care what others think amounts to talking to ones self. We all fear rejection and "I dont care what others think" can be translated to "I am afraid others may reject me". Invariably the dont carers need the most loving This is true of photography as business. The businessman has to be confident enough to ask for feedback and intelligent enough to listen to that feedback. There is an exception that is endemic in todays pop art culture and that is with enough force of character and the right marketing skills the artist can dictate what consumer must or must not like (and ultimately buy). Art becomes business but business is never art. The 'art' critic and artless patron perpetuates the market not the artist.

    Style gives our communications personality. Communication without personality is invariably dull. Can you delevop style? Yes, but you cannot create it - its comes from within. The basic ingredient of style is confidence. Confidence enhances style and at great risk of complimenting the Welshman twice in one day - take Robs work as an example. You may not always like his subjects and you may sometimes um and arr over his conversions but what you cannot dispute is that each image oozes confidence and therefore style. The way in which we exhibit our confidence is as different as our thumb print so outward confidence inevitably translates to individual style. Jiro is an example in work. Over the last few weeks his images have begun to reflect his confidence. This confidence is building into a recognisible style. Whist it would be tempting to believe that it is his technical skill with PP that makes his images desirable (and therefore mimicable) we would be very mistaken. Once technique is applied with unbridled confidence, then personal style is inevitable. Confidence allows the photographer to apply that flick of the pallet knife that distinguishes his or her work from all else.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Western MA, USA
    Posts
    388
    Real Name
    Tom

    Re: A question to ponder...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    Style gives our communications personality. Communication without personality is invariably dull. Can you delevop style? Yes, but you cannot create it - its comes from within. The basic ingredient of style is confidence. <snip> Once technique is applied with unbridled confidence, then personal style is inevitable. Confidence allows the photographer to apply that flick of the pallet knife that distinguishes his or her work from all else.
    I think this is largely false. ISTM that style is a form of intellectual laziness. In the case of a business, it might be desirable to the customer -- people select a wedding photographer because they like what he has done before. They generally want the same thing that was done for someone else, just changing the faces in the photos. For a business, the best surprise is no surprise. Having a different look than the next guy may help sell your product, but the customer wants the same look you had the last time. That's what they're buying.

    A good example of this to my mind is Philippe Halsman's "jumping" portraits. It may have been inspired the first time he did it. But it became a "style," and everybody and his brother wanted to be photographed jumping for Halsman. Calling that anything other than artistic laziness is a real leap, but it was exactly what the customer wanted.

    If you actually want to engage afresh with the world, style is your enemy, not your salvation. The habit of thought that worked in the past inhibits your engaging the object that is in front of you right now. The extent to which this new object is transformed into the same thing you saw last year is the extent to which you have failed to engage the present reality. Or so ISTM.

  8. #8
    Shadowman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    29,200
    Real Name
    John

    Re: Developing your own style

    Quote Originally Posted by tclune View Post
    I think he may have a point for professional photographers -- Annie Liebowitz was trying to get hired when she developed her own style. For most of us, having a style is an affectation, not a goal. I am trying to communicate something when I take a photo, but I have no interest in differentiating myself from my competition -- because there is nothing competitive about my hobby. If I can communicate what I am trying to capture in a way that is low-key, that is not a problem for my vacation photos or my family portraits. If I am trying to garner more business each time I take a photo, I need to have a "hook" that has nothing to do with communication, but everything to do with commerce. So there is a dimension to commercial work that just doesn't apply to anything that I do as a hobbyist.
    Annie Liebowitz developed a style that furthered her career for many years and then she got lambasted for it (the Miley photos) when she combined it with the world of pop teen culture. One thing a photographer has to do is weather the criticisms, stick to their vision, and be very selective when mixing their style with current fads.

  9. #9

    Re: Developing your own style

    I think this is largely false. ISTM that style is a form of intellectual laziness.
    I have yet come across an occasion where communication that is undertaken with style and confidence can be said to be intellectually lazy. In fact since confidence is usually gained from ability and knowledge so the opposite would be true. I think we also need to be wary of confusing style with format and in particular unvarying format. Individual style can be apparent across the whole spectrum of formats. It is rarely repetitive or dull because confident style precludes it.

    If you actually want to engage afresh with the world, style is your enemy, not your salvation.
    I think again we are at cross purposes with the interpretation of style. I see style as the x-factor element. You can sing the same song again and again in the same style and that becomes dull. If you sing different songs with your own individual style then that is a different matter altogether. So style applied to un-varying subjects or format is a bad thing but style is not an enemy it is one of the big guns in the artists arsenal. Style reflects personality and I honestly believe that must come through in any artwork.

  10. #10

    Re: Developing your own style

    I think this is largely false. ISTM that style is a form of intellectual laziness.
    There's some miscommunication, possibly, with semantics, here. I hear Tom talking about "formulaic marketing" and Steve talking about an artist's style. When I think of style, I think of that certain something that helps me know that I'm looking at a Monet or a Rembrandt. I can tell by their subject matter, mediums used and the way they used them. They definitely had a "style" and I would definitely NOT call them intellectually lazy! (BTW, I was just at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, staring up close at Monet's brush strokes - see Steve's first comment up above.)

    My sister and I talk about style. She has her degree in fine arts and is a painter. She talks to me about how her style emerged. Firstly, she says that others can see it before the artist can. She calls it a strange mix of the artists who influenced her dwelling somewhere deep in the back of her mind and that 'whatever' is in her personality, genes or chemical makeup that makes her move her brush in a certain way and choose the colors that she does, etc. Actually, she has said that, when she first started to recognize, for herself, that she had a style, she was really disappointed. She wanted to paint like someone else. There was a bit of self discovery, I think. Now, she explores her art with much more confidence and her style becomes much more apparent and refined as she goes. Steve, I thought that your thoughts on confidence were incredibly insightful!

    Also, I was just talking to someone, the other day, about recognizing different composer's styles in classical music. Early Beethoven's music sounds tremendously like late Mozart's. They both were following the technical rules that were the 'style' of the day. (Yet another subtle slant on the word.) They were both majorly influenced by Haydn, and Beethoven even studied with Mozart - very briefly! (I cannot even imagine those two personalities together!) Even though they were writing the same kind of music, for the same instruments, in very much the same way, their personalities are still discernible - there's a certain something that makes each one express himself in a unique way - even though they're using the very same equation. Then, of course, Beethoven took the rules and pushed and stretched them as far as they could go - explored the possibilities to the very end - somehow, though, it always sounds like Beethoven. You know, I cannot think how this is intellectual laziness - it seems more like genius driven.

    Well, it's a huge subject and I feel feeble with my attempt at words.

    I thought that the original article, Jiro's and Steve's comments were particularly encouraging and very good for me to hear. Thanks guys!!! I needed it! Thanks to all of you, though, for your thoughts and input!
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 23rd June 2011 at 02:10 PM.

  11. #11
    jiro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Manila, Philippines
    Posts
    3,804
    Real Name
    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Developing your own style

    It is you that we should be thankful for, Katy. What you've just shared is simpler and piercing to the bones because most of it came from another true artist! I always remember what an old, bald, Chinese Zen Monk told me - "You can only share something that you have experienced yourself." No wonder you and your sister are alike... you both speak with clarity and wit.

  12. #12

    Re: Developing your own style

    Katy, you always make me think more clearly and I totally agree with Jiro. Apart from....

    You can only share something that you have experienced yourself.
    I used to know a old hippy type who had a pearl of wisdom for everything. At first it seemed quite clever and reassuring but as I listened to him night after night in the tap room of the local. I realised that these pearls only came in one size only - and that size fits all. They were actually strings of words that applied to all things, to all people, at all times. The wisdom was not in the content but in their global adaptability to any individual's view or circumstance. At the time this realisation seemed profound to me because I could detect these pearls of wisdom in all religious and indeed in secular teaching with alarming regularity. Me being me became very uneasy about the motivation behind the use of quoted profundity and how it could be used to skirt the real and searching questions. And so Jiro I am most certainly not having a dig at you but it just sparked the memory that it was the pondering of these 'sayings' that got me interested in philosophy and ultimately why I believe the question is more profound than the answer.

    The words quoted were particularly apt because if you look at them without the aura of the monk and the salving effect of implied applicability then their meaning becomes fraught with difficulties. The experienced can pass on to the inexperienced but the recipient cannot share in turn? This ignores the basis of philosphy (and indeed teaching), it forestalls the questioner. In fact it begs the question (on these terms) if it is possible for the experienced to share with the inexperienced at all. In fact the ultimate conclusion would be that you can only truely share with someone that has experienced the same. But if we accept (as indeed we must) that the human response to experience is as unique as the individual then experience can never be shared...only its perception.

    You do realise this sort of thing keeps me awake at night I will lie there searching for the right question....I can willingly leave the right answer to others

  13. #13

    Re: Developing your own style

    I knew it would come to me...rolling a cigarette did the trick...perhaps

    You can only share something that you have experienced yourself.
    Is the question and not the answer...and therein lies the wisdom

    So the wise only have questions...no answers

  14. #14

    Re: Developing your own style

    Jiro! May I recommend responding with a big, hearty "eesh"? It works wonders!

  15. #15

    Re: Developing your own style

    I would just like to say that this is a real honour. I now have two eeshs taking pride of place on my mantle piece. I would just like to say a big thanks to my production staff, my director and of course my auld Mam without whom none of this would be possible. I would also like to thank Katy for nominating me and my public whose eye rolling and tutting have supported me through each thread.

    I think we should have little eesh symbols under our avatars - I quite like the idea of seeing little gold eeshs under my name....not that its going to my head or anything

    Yours Truly

    Sir Ardon F Wirefox. Baah (humbug). Eeesh (2). Cycling Proficiency (Hons)

  16. #16

    Re: Developing your own style

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    I would just like to say that this is a real honour. I now have two eeshs taking pride of place on my mantle piece. I would just like to say a big thanks to my production staff, my director and of course my auld Mam without whom none of this would be possible. I would also like to thank Katy for nominating me and my public whose eye rolling and tutting have supported me through each thread.

    I think we should have little eesh symbols under our avatars - I quite like the idea of seeing little gold eeshs under my name....not that its going to my head or anything

    Yours Truly

    Sir Ardon F Wirefox. Baah (humbug). Eeesh (2). Cycling Proficiency (Hons)
    I just want you to know that I found this post VERY helpful! Thanks ever so much!!!

    Oooooooo! and, I can't make a new post, I'll just have to edit this one because, look! I've reached a big round number of posts. (Kind of like the odometer rolling over on minichris' mini.)
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 24th June 2011 at 12:01 AM.

  17. #17
    Seriche's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Bailiwick of Guernsey
    Posts
    347
    Real Name
    Seri

    Re: Developing your own style

    q
    Last edited by Seriche; 13th July 2011 at 09:36 AM. Reason: Wrong thread! ;)

  18. #18
    FrankMi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA
    Posts
    6,294
    Real Name
    Frank Miller

    Re: Developing your own style

    This post has a lot of deep intellectual thought to the point where I think my head is going to hurt if I try to understand it all.

    When I think of developing my own style, I feel that, at least at this point in my learning, being pigeonholed into a style of my own is too restrictive. For now, I want to be free of a set style. I don't have to earn a living with photography and that give me the freedom to explore and experience many styles, try many new things, find out what I like best and relish in the excitement of learning new techniques.

    Do I listen to what others have to say about my work? Absolutely! I appreciate and carefully consider each and every one, but I won't let the comments and critiques constrain my enthusiasm for exploration. The net result, I believe, will be that rather than trying to create my own style, I will gradually move to a style of my own, not as a constraint, but as a result of finding and exploring what I like doing best. Perhaps that is the difference between a photographic "job" and a "hobby".

    Gad! I just realized that I have waxed philosophical to simply say that I largely agree with the article. Why didn't I just say that?

  19. #19
    arith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Burton on Trent, UK
    Posts
    4,788
    Real Name
    Steve

    Re: Developing your own style

    I just muddle on; more concerned with accurately capturing data. But sometimes I have an idea then do it and somebody will say 'that is crap that is', and I think to myself, no it isn't.

    I watched a true story about an artist forger who's works where worth thousands, and he didn't have a style.

    I've seen a program where it was claimed provenance was as important in the valuation of a painting, more so than the artist.

    Also everybody must know how much more a painting is worth when it is finally attributed to a great artist.

    But they are the same paintings valuable or not.

    Obviously most people cannot tell if a work of art is valuable or not, and since nowadays everything is measured in money, good or not unless they can attribute the work to somebody, probably by a style.

    To me a style is just doing the same things over and over. It doesn't make it good but if it does sell then it will become the reason more sell.

    And I don't know what I'm talking about.

  20. #20
    FrankMi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA
    Posts
    6,294
    Real Name
    Frank Miller

    Re: Developing your own style

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    And I don't know what I'm talking about.
    ROFL! That's how I feel, more often than not!

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •