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  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Photographic Style

    When you see a photograph, can you immediately recognise a specific photographer’s style? I can usually recognise a picture by HCB or Atget within a few seconds, but would struggle with many others.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  2. #2
    eddie's Avatar
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    With "the greats" it's usually because I've seen their images for so many years that it's hard to tell whether I recognize the style or the image first.
    In the Gallery, there are a few posters that I can recognize from the thumbnails. I consider that a compliment, as their eye, and technical prowess, deliver every time.

  3. #3
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    I can't always recognize who did a certain print, but I'm frequently right. In a couple of camera clubs I've been in, when images are judged on competition nights there are no names visible. I've still been able to tell whose they were with very few exceptions (and even when I'd been in one club for less than a year). But I don't think I've seen enough of the "greats" to know theirs as well (though I do know some). I can definitely tell certain images in the gallery here.
    I wonder if the ability to know whose are whose is connected to whatever part of my brain I used as a chemist to know that a certain item I was seeing in the microscope was X, Y, or Z.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    I can usually recognise a picture by HCB or Atget within a few seconds, but would struggle with many others.
    That's because you're not familiar with anyone other than these two!

    You should try spending time with other photographers, cliveh. Something outside your comfort zone. Alec Soth for instance has a very subtle style, but I instantly recognise pictures I haven't seen as being his - just as well as a Paul Strand or Callahan. Jem Southam too - who I still haven't come to a conclusion about - has a very quiet, very contemporary style, but I recognise his pictures straight away.

    It's not just the greats who have a strong style. As I see it, style is just an expression of personality and we're drawn to particular work for being a reflection of our own. It just happens that the greatest work is the most universal and identifiable, vernacular and familiar. I think some people are too scared to look at work beyond the greats, for fear of finding something out about themselves! The deeper you get into anything - be it music, photography, art - the more you look for work that has some kind of resonance with your own unique personal experience.

  5. #5
    lxdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by winger View Post
    I wonder if the ability to know whose are whose is connected to whatever part of my brain I used as a chemist to know that a certain item I was seeing in the microscope was X, Y, or Z.
    I guess that would depend on which axis they were aligned with.
    I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
    When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.

  6. #6

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    I would probably be able to recognize the printing style first in many cases.

  7. #7

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    i can recognize some things but there is a deep well when it comes to photography
    here on apug, i recognize some folks like eddie, just from the thumbnail
    but from time to time they throw a curveball and i show myself how clueless i really am

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post

    As I see it, style is just an expression of personality and we're drawn to particular work for being a reflection of our own. . . . The deeper you get into anything - be it music, photography, art - the more you look for work that has some kind of resonance with your own unique personal experience.
    That is so very well put, batwister, so very well put. I would add that style is something that emerges from the work, it is not something that one consciously attempts to apply to the work.

    Michael A. Smith

  9. #9
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    Winogrand - his pictures always had that certain lean!

  10. #10

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    I think the more work you see in general, the easier it becomes to discern differences in style even among work by artists you've never seen before. And with this greater sense of reference when you come across work from an artist whose work you've seen many times before, that artist's style might be very evident to you.

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