For anybody wondering if they have a recognizable photographic style or worrying that they don’t, have a look at this great article by Guy Tal. He has a very different view of the issue than you find on mainstream photography blogs.“A word of advice: stop searching. Forget vision; forget personal style; forget unique voice. These are not goals, they are by-products. The most meaningful art you can make should not be about visual effects but about the way you respond to and interpret the world.”
A few years ago I took a course from Kat Sloma on Finding Your Style. I didn’t find my style but what I did find out about my own preferences and leanings was quite eye-opening and worth the effort.
Both Tal and Sloma agree that a style is actually a moving target.
Guy Tal, whose landscape work is quite magnificent, points to the fact that some of the greatest artists in history did not begin and end their careers with one style that never changed. In fact they are known for distinct periods in their work. He says that what many photographers have these days is a “trademark” look designed for saleability, not a unique personal style.“The only way to find a style, once and for all, is to stop evolving as a person. When you change, your style should change with you. Allow yourself to explore, to follow your inklings, to experiment, to adapt with new knowledge, skills and experiences.”
If your goal is truly developing yourself, Kat Sloma offers some direction:“Create more opportunities to explore the parts of photography with which you truly resonate. When you find those interests, follow them but never stop testing them. Explore new things in your photography, both variations on what you already enjoy and completely new directions. Continue to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. And as you do, ask yourself – is this still where I want to be? Does this direction resonate with me? When you answer yes or no, you refine your path. You hone the edge of your style by continually challenging it. You either gain clarity on your current path or you change your direction, forging an even deeper connection with your images.”
The way I see it, if we follow this advice, we can quit worrying. We can relax, enjoy the process of exploration and our images will reflect who we are and then who we are becoming.
9 thoughts on “August Break, Day 9”
Ah so there is the answer to my question of a few weeks back…I feel so much better now…when people ask me what kind of a photographer I am…I say I’m a Photographer of the Heart…because at any given moment I shoot what moves me…except for still life…I try to follow the lessons but add my own spin…it’s not a natural for me but I’m getting there..
That was a really freeing post..I wish I had got to it sooner…my weekend away threw me off kilter for a bit…but I’m back so happy to be here…with you and your lovely posts…
Sherry, your blog post is a precious gift!!!! I will print it out for my “inspirations-folder” (started an ‘Offline-Pinterest’ folder with images articles…much happychild-fun to be had^^)
The way I perceive it, your thoughts and quotes are very mindful, and if the Buddha had had a camera back then, he might have deeply agreed with you.
See you around in the August Break, dear.
Awesome post, I must say!!!! I don’t ever want to photograph for “sale-ability.” It has to be my interpretation of what I see. When I think about “sale-ability”…I lose my love for the art.
Great post Sherry! I think this paragraph sums up exactly how I feel…
“The only way to find a style, once and for all, is to stop evolving as a person. When you change, your style should change with you. Allow yourself to explore, to follow your inklings, to experiment, to adapt with new knowledge, skills and experiences.”
I would I like to think that my style will always be a work in progress. I get bored much to easily to stay with one style for too long. The important part is to enjoy the style I am in at the moment and embrace it for all it is worth. From this I will continue to grow.
Hi Sherry – thanks for the evocative image and the provocative wisdom of Kat Sloma…wisdom that can be applied to any passion, any life. “Is this still where I want to be? Does this direction resonate with me?” A kind of mindfulness about the big picture. xo Mary Lou
I just finished reading Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art” where he discusses being authentic and how an artist needs to not be a part of a hierarchy, but be territorial. A really provoking and intriguing book. Thanks for the links!
Sherry this is quite excellent! I dind myself “exploring” in all of my hobbies as I reach out for something new and exciting to achieve. Thank you for the links and the summary. xx
I so agree that it’s about continually evolving. This line by Kat really resonates with me – “The most meaningful art you can make should not be about visual effects but about the way you respond to and interpret the world.”
Great article and I so agree…I love the idea of exploring.