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  1. #1

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    Thump, ah Thump, ah Thump, Thump, Thump

    Courious title?
    This thread is about photographic style.

    Many newer photographers worry and are concerned about developing their own style. This is in my opinion a waste of energy and intellect. Rather, I think that you should concentrate on the following:

    Viewing well made photos:
    There is nothing better suited to showing you what photography is capable of than to view original well made prints. If you are near a gallery, art exhibit or art museum pay them a visit and look at the prints. You will over time see what the medium is capable of doing.

    What kind of personality do you have:
    If you are a slow, methodical worker whose interest is in photographing few items but doing so in the most meticulous manner possible then that will come thru in your photography as you practice, If your interest is in candid or street photography and shoot a lot of film then that will come thru in developing a "style".

    So what interests you:
    Do you love viewing the enviroment,, for example city that you live in or are visiting ?

    Do you love flowers?

    Do you love children at play?

    Where are your interests?

    How are these photographs to be displayed or used:
    If your aim is to make prints to display in your living space what is the proper sized prints for that enviroment. If you have a large home with a lot of wall space then you can display a large prints effectively. If you live in a small flat with little wall space then it will be difficult for views to appreciate 16x20 prints for example mounted on 20x24 boards. What are the viewing conditions,,IE how much light is available?

    Equipping yourself:
    If you like photographing street scenes in a candid manner a 11x14 camera may be a poor choice. If you are going to make 20x24 prints and want the ultimate in gradation and clarity then a Minox may be a poor choice. It is only after making these choices, listed above, that one can do a reasonable job in choosing equipment

    Get off your ass and take photos:
    No one, in my opinion, is going to reach even a mediocre level of competence without working at it. Would you expect that you could be a good marathon runner if you spend all your time either working at a desk or being a couch potato? David Vestal wrote in a Photo Techiniques article about students taking a pottery class: One half of the class was to be graded on quality without any concern with how many pieces were produced. The other half of the class was to be graded on quantity without regard to how good the pottery was. In the end the half of the class that was producing quantity without regard for quality made the better quality pieces because they were doing a sufficient amount of work to learn how to do it well. They class members doing "quality" pieces were not doing enough work to learn their craft. You must work at photography and learn your skills in photographing what interests you and printing it to the best of your ability, as dictated by your personality. You must keep doing this over a long period of time.

    As you do this your style has arrived without givin it any thought at all.

    OH, that business about the title. That is the beat that I march to.

  2. #2
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Interesting thoughts, Claire. I agree with most of what you said. Up to the point of "style" happening on its own as a result of the other choices, that is. Many photographers, even those who are constantly off their asses making pictures, work for years without ever developing a style.

    To me, style is more than just the choice of subject matter, film format, etc. I think it is the result of a philosophical state of mind - something that permeates a person's work regardless of subject matter or equipment used. While chosen equipment and technique plays a roll, I think style is more about how a photographer sees the world and what they have to say about what they see. It's a consistency of statement that will be seen in both a commercial image of a product, and an intimate, touching image of a tsunami victim. It's more about who the photographer is, translated to film.

    As to that drum beat, is that a rhumba, samba or a cha-cha you're doing?
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  3. #3
    John Bartley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarker
    I...snipped...
    To me, style is more than just the choice of subject matter, film format, etc. I think it is the result of a philosophical state of mind - something that permeates a person's work regardless of subject matter or equipment used....snipped...
    Hmmm...almost as if you subconciously have no choice, but rather your style chooses you because of the person that you are?

    I can understand that...

  4. #4
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Bartley
    Hmmm...almost as if you subconciously have no choice, but rather your style chooses you because of the person that you are?

    I can understand that...
    I think it (having "style") can take place either way, John. It can just sort of "happen" (alá the bumper sticker), or it can be the result of consciously understanding who you are and consciously deciding to have a consistent philosophical message in your images, whatever the subject matter might be.

    For example, I'm not sure whether I have a style or not, but I make a conscious effort to examine and portray the "beauty" of things. That might be a flower, a differential gear, a landscape, or a nude woman. My objective in thinking about what image I want to create of the subject is almost always the same - to find, respect, and depict its beauty. I'd take the same approach if photographing a homeless person in an alley. There, however, I'd need to engage the person in conversation enough that the sparkle would return to their eyes, so I could photograph the nobility of their human spirit (albeit scruffy), treating them with respect.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  5. #5

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    lullabye

    It is a lullaby. I take boring pics.

  6. #6
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    I hold the opinion that "style" is something that develops at the pre-conscious level. It is a product of the soul./ psyche/ self/ aesthetics ...

    To me the idea of trying to "shape" your - properly labeled "preconscious" is futile and can only result in confusion. To try to integrate the style of another, as helpful as they are trying to be, also clouds that which is so intimately yours.

    I think all of us have a "style". Our choices in art serve as a description of ourselves - they define our "soul" - and they are the source of our style - and everyone that makes choices automatically chooses their style.

    This came up yesterday, in a discussion with a "new" (to me, and - wonderful model); the connection between the one- and two-minute poses in Life Class and the preconscious. The boundaries of a short time do not allow the artist to "think" consciously. If one agonizes about the quality and appropriateness of one's work... the pose will have gone... one will be left with an agonized drawing of a single finger - instead of an entire figure.
    So - one works - MUST work without thinking - and so, invariably produce their best work .. and in their true "style".

    I've heard that "One must work for years to develop a "Style". I think that is not only false, but incredibly debilitating. How many of us have "chosen" a particular "style" - and been able to achieve the style of our choice?
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  7. #7
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Hi Claire

    My style would be one of what is going on Now 2005, I have started to actively take photographs over the last few years. My photographs reflect me now, I have chosen to be quite active over the next few years with cameras and expose enough images that satisfy my curiosity on any given subject that I have chosen.
    I stopped taking photographs early 80"s after college and for 20 years I have looked at photos, printed photos , and did shows for others.
    My burning desire now is to take 4-8 photographic subjects that I like and make images and prints that satisfy me, and me alone.
    The stlye I have chosen is different for each subject that interests me. The only connecting factor is that when the prints are done they rival anything hanging on gallery walls technically. Whether I have any unigue style or artistic merit it is not for me to say.
    I think that a style will emerge that some will recognize as mine ( I hope) .
    Being consistant in the quality expectations of the different subject matter will show through that will define my style.

    Picking topics, staying with them , and fully exploring the possibilities, will in the end define a photographers paticular style.

  8. #8

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    The above comments are right on. Achieving one's own style is something that emerges as a function of working. It is nothing you "try" to get. Picasso, an original artist if ever there was one, said, "The artist who tries to be original deceives himself. If he achieves anything at all it will only be an imitation of what he likes."

  9. #9
    John Bartley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
    ...snip...
    My burning desire now is to ...(snipped & hopefully still in context)... make images and prints that satisfy me, and me alone....snip...
    Yes - very much YES!! This is how I feel about all the things that I do to sooth my spirit and make myself happy in my life. Whether it is old radios or photography, I do it to please me alone and no one else. That doesn't mean that I don't care about technical quality though, and I do listen when criticism is offered.

    I'm not sure that this answers Claires question though.

    I take photographs when the subject appeals to me or when I wish to experiment technically and for no other reasons.

    I don't have a "style" yet. It would be pretty presumptuous to think I did after such a short time in this hobby. I hope that when I do realise that a style has gripped me, that it is something that pleases not only me, but others as well.

    cheers

  10. #10
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    Seems to me there are two ideas here: style and expression. I think style is more a subscription to a school of thought or a point of view. Successfully expressive work, IMHO, is work in which you're able to use the various technical and creative tools you've acquired to convey the image within, like a good turn of phrase or just the right combination of brushstrokes.

    I wholeheartedly agree about the value in volume. Embarassingly, one of the biggest kickstarts to my creative life was when I got a digital SLR and could shoot large numbers of pictures, trying out a great many things, seeing the result right away, and trying something else in reaction to the results. Eventually, though, I traded in the digital training wheels for film and a darkroom.

    I actually didn't mean for that to sound as pretentious as it sounded -- I realize that digital is a solid medium for lots of folks... I"m just not drawn that way.

    -KwM-

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