You mustn’t want, you must be receptive; don’t think, even, the brain’s a bit dangerous. Sensitivity is the flavor of moments. Henri Cartier-Bresson
All photographs demarcate their own period in time. You must not disregard the first image you ever made for future photographs. Every image you have made is relevant and important in your development. You must also remember that, as in life, the choices you make will determine your future as a photographer. Every decision you make-from who you work with, what presets you use, where you sit to edit, how you share your images-all affect your style.
Every job, relationship, hobby and experience you’ve had has led you here: to a place where photography is calling out to you as a form of communication, as a creative outlet, as a business opportunity. You are so fortunate to have discovered the wonderful creative craft, art form, and technical science that is photography. It is just a small thread in the fabric that you are weaving to discover your own creative voice and visual expression. If you keep looking you will continue to discover many excellent resources for your evolution.
I have been working in photography for over 26 years. I started out with a traditional education in photography processing and printing my own work using sensitometry. Then I began shooting digital in 1991 when the Leaf camera back came out. It cost $50,000 and was the size of a brick. It mounted onto the back of a Hasselblad or 4×5 camera and made three filtered passes: one red, one green and one blue. The three filtered images were then sandwiched together to make one high resolution 4 megapixel color digital file. This was the largest digital image file available.
It could only be used in the studio because it had to be tethered to a computer in order to view the captures. I was completely disillusioned by the entire process and eventually stopped working as a professional photographer.
I continued to work as an artist’s rep for commercial photographers helping them hone their portfolios and vision. I also created work for myself and a few families who wanted carefree, environmental lifestyle portraits on location. This type of work suited my personal style at the time but it was not at all trendy in 2002 and not enough people demanded it for me to make a business of it.
I continued on with my own vision in photography and created several projects without having the internet to refer to for inspiration-everything came from my gut and was wholeheartedly me. Then I began looking at other photographers online in 2008 and my path began to zigzag. I didn’t know which way to turn. I felt the tug to jump on the bandwagon and do what was trendy but my heart just knew this wouldn’t work for me. I am not a mainstream person. I have had to learn to trust my instincts to tell me that my authentic style will shine through when I stop looking at other photographer’s work.
You will have a hard time figuring out your authentic style if you don’t shoot from your gut. Your photography needs to be about you and the path that has brought you here. Getting in tune with that voice is the first key to defining your style. From there you can make choices that fit within your stylistic parameters.
I know personally that weather, landscapes and seascapes are very important to my psyche. I’ve spent most of my life in tune with them since I was very young. I also spent most of my career drawn to photographing landscapes until I recently stepped out of my comfort zone and started adding portraits to the mix. Thus, my style is very much environmental portraits: the portrait part still being a struggle for me.
“Another goal of the artist-photographer is to enlighten one’s own emerging style by providing context-a foundation for the precedent of our style.” ~Lanola Kathleen Stone
Flip-flops, wind blown hair, a smooth stone, a sail reflecting in the water and bare feet. These are things that truly define my life, not what I dream of having in my life. I am a beach girl at heart but often wish I had a more refined style. My current work is light and casual but I often dream it was more enigmatic. This is the difference between my style and my vision. Style and vision can change and evolve if you make a conscious effort for it to do so.