Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
Photography (or any art form) is all about achieving your own personal style.
I'd say it's more about communicating with others, but your personal style is fundamental to this so I'm splitting hairs

Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
A rather wealthy photographer (heir to the family fortune, had never worked) showed an immaculate portfolio, the pints were fantastic quality & composition except there was nothing of him in the images. He'd done one Ansel Adams style, another Cartier Bresson and so on, he was torn to shteds.
I think we're talking about slightly different things here. Robotically copying a style is not the same thing as learning through copying (at least in my mind it isn't). With the former you're consciously (or sub-consciously) trying to see through the eyes of a master (How would Ansel compose this picture?). With the latter you're using another picture as a starting point for exploration.

As you explore, if you keep asking yourself what works for me and what doesn't (the "for me" is really important), and if you apply the results of that questioning to your next pictures, then you will find that the pictures you make will soon start to diverge from the master's and your style will emerge.

We worship originality to such an extent that we sometimes seem to expect new artists to appear on the scene perfectly formed, already with sparkling originality. (IMO, this has led us directly to the shallow rubbish that the art schools churn out.) But this is an entirely unreasonable expectation.

Take Edward Weston, for example. He didn't arrive like some revolutionary leader, already perfectly formed. Neither did he have an epiphany moment and transform himself overnight. He started out as a pictorialist - making pictures in the accepted style of the day. But he continually questioned what he was making and what he saw around him, and thus re-shaped his work into something new and revolutionary. In my opinion, his genius was in his continual questioning, his willingness to explore, and his obsession, rather than in his undoubted technical skills.