A photographic style, kind of like finding your life purpose.
Style is defined as “a distinctive manner of expression.”
Over the years, I have narrowed my style down to a particular set of guidelines or standards.
To make a metaphor. I see all the muscles as parts that make up your creative style, but they always will flex on the same arm, also known as your body of work.
Like muscles, you have to train and develop those points of interest over time.
Some Ohio naturalists and biologists wanna simply document living species, regardless of the quality of light.
There is nothing wrong with this! To me photography is the perfect artistic medium where “anything goes.” Nature photojournalism has a powerful niche within that place. Some of my favorite photos do just that, documenting the living things around us.
But one has to wonder when the photojournalism is elevated to an art form.
Personally I want my body of work to stand between these lines. Further blurring fine art and nature photojournalism.
Over the years I realized that I don’t wanna just simply document, at least not always.
I wanna show nature artfully while keeping true to its’ roots.
Describe Your Process of Seeing With Words
I have noticed that I describe the photos to others using one word a lot: juxtaposition.
Juxtaposition is defined as “the act of placing two or more things side by side to compare or contrast to create an interesting effect.”
I enjoy conveying the calm and collected fragility of nature, while sometimes switching it up with jagged and “intense” leading lines. This is one example I noticed throughout my work, a strong use of these straight lines, interwoven with vanishing points and curves.
The above two images were taken in different months, two different locations, two different seasons. Yet I captured them in the same way. Upon seeing the two photos together as prints, the connection became clearer.
Likewise, I enjoy making aimless and meandering pieces of art. The minimalism clashing with the chaotic. Balancing the two in a single image.
The photos display inner details and ideas, while others show everything no matter how beautiful or ugly.
You Won’t Figure This Out Overnight
In order to find your photography style, keep shooting!
I am several years in and just now starting to see patterns and connections in my entire portfolio.
The more you shoot good and (more likely) bad photos, your trained eye will gain a sense of perspective.
Certain people enjoy specific compositions more than others, that same goes for focal lengths, colors, lighting conditions, etc.
Now I personally don’t narrow my portfolio down to a certain white balance and color tone, other photographers achieve this so well. Is a moody color palette with a warm splash of red or orange more of your thing? Own up to it!
It goes without but “what do you like to see?”
More so, “what do you want to see more of?”
What is lacking in the art and photography world? Find a way to carve a definitive niche in the industry.
Your peers and viewers of your work will admire your desire to stand out from the crowd.
One last idea, and this is more of a writing prompt to try.
Write an Artist Statement
Yes, an artist statement can be an oft-forgotten part of the photography world. Typically written by fine art photographers only, I recommend creating your own regardless of genre or niche.
Clearly you shouldn’t copy another’s statement, but read a few others before embarking on your own writing. Get inspired!
Like how this writing piece began, a photographic style is like finding your life purpose.
Never give up that search, those who seek it will eventually find their style.
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