Passport: The Elements Of Style
Here's how you know that
your photographs are showing a personal style:
I've always been intrigued
by personal style--what makes it, how you develop it, and how you
recognize it. I'm sure volumes have been written about what style
is, but to me it's pretty basic: Your style comes from what made
you pick up a camera in the first place. It's what you point your
camera at, and how you choose to depict that subject. Your style is going
to be...you. It's going to be formed and influenced by all the
things that influence you: personality, education, interests, sensibility,
and appreciation. I came from graphic design and I love to travel. Look
at my photos and what do you see? Me. The way I use color and composition
to depict the things I like--that's my style.
Style doesn't come overnight. You get it from years of shooting and lots of film. I found that after many jobs and many projects, I started to see themes and ideas in my photographs. There was a sense of color; and the fact that I liked to photograph people; and I loved using design elements in my compositions. Soon I saw what were the hallmarks of my style, and they became my photographic signature.
What's interesting is that when you begin taking pictures you may think that your personal style is right there in the photographs right from the start. I thought that, but I was surprised to find that the things I was being recognized for were different from what I thought I was putting into my images. People liked what I did, but they saw something else in the photos. And what they saw was what I was unconsciously doing. So to a large extent, style can be revealed through others.
I'm aware now that I have two different styles. For my travel photography, it's a concentration on bold color and strong, sometimes stark graphics. For my lifestyle photography, it's more casual, relaxed, and freewheeling; more experimental. It comes down to sharp, clean geometry on the one hand, softer, smoother edges on the other. In both cases, it's what I like to do, what I choose to see in my viewfinder, and how I choose to capture that scene. Whether your style is something you're doing deliberately or unconsciously, it's how you see the world and how you choose to share that view. It's there in the elements you keep coming back to. Ultimately, your style is you.
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