August Break, Day 9

daisies

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.