The photography pundits keep urging enthusiasts to discover their own style. We are supposed to look at lots of great pictures by great photographers and learn from them, but not just copy them. We are supposed to express our own individual personalities in our photography.
Well how the hell do you do that? How is everyone supposed to be different enough from everyone else to make their photos recognisably theirs?
Maybe if you are prepared to develop a very stylised or eccentric approach to your photography, or if you are OK with limiting your subject matter to, say, laser-lit drum kits, then you can establish a portfolio that no-one would confuse with anyone else’s. But what if (as I do) you mostly just take travel photos or pictures at sporting events? It makes it very hard to create an unequivocally unique brand.
So I’m not going to try that hard, but I do feel I need some guiding principles. Some idea of the way I should be going about taking pictures to ensure I end up with worthwhile images that communicate something in a consistent way. I don’t want my pictures to just be so many holiday snaps.
So here goes my first draft at a statement of my “style”:
My target is well executed, interesting travel, landscape and sports photos. I am not going all out for the “wow” factor on every shot (even if I had the skill to achieve that). Understated and natural is fine, so long as my pictures are well composed, well exposed and have a basic modicum of visual interest.
After all, I am not a professional photographer. My pictures are not in general for sale. They are for myself, my family and friends and anyone else who cares to look at them online.
If I can get a stunning shot of something I will, but I am not a glory hunter. I don’t have the time or patience to set up a “mega” shot. I want good pictures but photography is secondary to my travel or watching my daughter compete in an equestrian competition, or wherever it is that I am out and about with my camera. If I am on holiday I want to be able to come back with some good pictures to document it – but I am not on a professional location shoot and want to be able to enjoy my holiday.
Insofar as that defines a style, well that’s my style.