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  1. #1
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    The Pursuit of Personal Style

    There seems to be a point in your photography where the equipment and the chemicals and the techniques don't matter anymore. This is not because they aren't required or that you won't learn new things or mix in new ways, but because this is all superfluous. You can and could learn all of the techniques and with enough practice you can master them... that is no more than just practice to the point of unconcious action.

    At what point, after you have hit this wall, do you find your path in photography? Or does this never happen?

    I guess the recent thread about some big-wigs in photography has lead me to think about my future in photography and wonder if personal style develops on its own or if must be actively sought. Also, if a personal style is found, can it be broken out of? Self-pidgeon-holing seems to be a problem with a number of the big names in photography as they ride their popularity wave. It seems the greatest among us are always reinventing themselves and pushing out of or driving deeper into novel work which continues to inspire themselves and those of us who admire from afar.

    This really isn't that much of a pointed question, but more of a rambling as I have had this on my mind this past week while doing some gum over prints and looking at my work.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  2. #2

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    This is a topic that I have strong opinions about.

    I believe that they way to develop a personal style is by doing the work that interests you in the manner that you see fit.

    Setting out to develop a persoanl style is. in my opinion, a fruitless task. Work, work, work. The style will come and it will be all yours.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  3. #3
    reellis67's Avatar
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    I'm with Claire on this one - true personal style comes from our very being; it can't be learned. You can emulate the work of others in a particular style, but it will never be yours.

    - Randy

  4. #4
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    I'm in agreement with Claire as well.

    I've come to the realization that it's up to the artist to explore whichever paths get the juices flowing, and it's up to others to look back on your body of work to sort out what it all means.

    Murray
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    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  5. #5
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin
    I've come to the realization that it's up to the artist to explore whichever paths get the juices flowing, and it's up to others to look back on your body of work to sort out what it all means.
    That's a very good distillation of the way I have begun to look at things.

    This thread wasn't a question of how do I find my style or should I emulate the style of others... just wanted to stop that before it starts. Just some random thoughts which I thought I might share with my fellow photogs who may be ruminating the same things.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  6. #6
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I found that at least for me, I have a particular way of seeing and recording things, and that people with at least a minimally trained eye can pick that up - they can look at a photo I took, whether it is a nude or an ancient temple, and say, "yes, that's a Scott Davis photograph". Same with my painting and drawing (although let's not go there... I think unlike my photos, the descriptor of a Scott Davis painting or drawing would be 'universally bad'! ) That part of it is something you can't learn/teach, except that if someone HAS a personal way of seeing/recording, you can encourage them to be aware of it and to develop it in a systematic way.

    Where personal artistic growth happens is where someone takes that personal way of seeing, and applies it to a subject they haven't applied it to before, or uses new materials to communicate it. Once you get to a certain point, applying new subjects/new materials to your vision becomes synergistic - as you try new things, your way of looking at things changes, and vice versa - as your way of looking at things changes, the tools you use to express it will also change.

  7. #7

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    I agree with Claire on this...seeking a personal style is like trying to find happiness...it becomes a byproduct of doing something else. In this case of doing photography. I would go a bit further, however. There are things that one can do to enable the process...at least in my direct experience. The greatest single aid to personal expression is taking the time and expending a few brain cells in consideration of who and what we are...at the depth of our being...what meaning we give to our lives...what moves us and causes us to react with emotional response. In other words learning of ourselves.

    I would go on to say that we, each and everyone of us, has a personally distinct and unique view of life. This has been the result of the totality of our lifes experiences. So we each will express that view in different ways.

    There is a great deal that is not discussed within the realm of photography and more specifically creative artistic expression within photography. For instance where are the discussions of symbolism within photographic expression?

    Where are the discussions on the depiction of symbolic form in contrast with photography of "known objects"?
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

  8. #8
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Moore
    At what point, after you have hit this wall, do you find your path in photography? Or does this never happen?

    You're right, it's fun to ponder these things, but I don't think it can be defined very easily, if at all.

    Have you ever heard the difference between a truly gifted pianist, and somebody with technical accuracy but no 'soul of an artist' playing the same piece of music? The difference is the answer, and there were probably sparks of artistic interpretations from the very beginning of the former's growth...I'm sure it didn't just appear after a specific point in technical development.

    I think because you're chewing these things over in your head, means you're on the right path Jeremy!

    Murray
    _________________________________________
    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  9. #9
    BWGirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Moore
    That's a very good distillation of the way I have begun to look at things.

    This thread wasn't a question of how do I find my style or should I emulate the style of others... just wanted to stop that before it starts. Just some random thoughts which I thought I might share with my fellow photogs who may be ruminating the same things.
    This is exactly what I have been thinking about as of late. I guess, it's easy to look at our 'outward' selves and say... "oh yeah, I know my personal style! I love blue jeans and comfortable sweat shirts." It's outward, it's evident, and people who have even a casual acquaintance with you can see it.

    But I think it's much different to 'see' our own personal style in our photography...and it is there, waiting for us to see. I think it is this elusive 'personal style' that defines us and that becomes our path. I think the tough thing is that we all want so desparately to know what it is, to define it in words, to give it substance... this may or may not be possible. It does, in fact, exist, but instead of just accepting it, we try to give it form, put it in a box, correlate its reality to the most minimal explanation... My stlye is..."

    I am not too sure this is like those "How I Spent my Summer Vacation" papers. I think we can only say what moves us...
    Jeanette
    .................................................. ................
    Isaiah 25:1

  10. #10
    battra92's Avatar
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    "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like."

    That's my motto about my style. I just let it happen and take photos that look good to me.

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