At college we were asked to print a large poster sized image that was going to be displayed along side images from other photographers attending the college.
It was really good to see the diversity of subjects shot. Although I think it would have also been nice if the lecturers had displayed an image that they’d taken over the year.
Anyway, I was thinking about diversity and style.
I have been told a few times by a few people that I have a consistency with my portraiture and gig photography. This is intended as a compliment and very much taken as one.
It may be true amongst my own peer group but I suspect in the wider world of photography my images would not necessarily carry a definite style that would be associated or credited directly to me. Naturally I would love someone to look at an image and say “that looks very much in the style of JJJ’s portraiture”. I’m a very long way off from that & I think it is something that just happens, we find our feet, capture what we like, when we like, how we like and then develop & process those images to our personal taste.
Some advice I was given was to do what I want to do; what I like rather than try to conform to ‘the norm’. Not to do what I think people will like or want to buy, but, to do what I do and let the people that like what I do find me.
I think this is good advice to maintain an enjoyment of photography. However, to sell images, either to cover costs of equipment and trips or time and effort, certainly to make a living, there is also a need to produce and be able to consistently produce images that a wider audience can appreciate.
Where am I going with all of this….. well, along with my class mates I took about eight images to college and had to select one for the end of year exhibition.
The image that was picked was a gig photo, black and white, high contrast with low key lighting. It was also a bit gritty with the subject being heavily tattooed and looking a bit rough & ready.
The image was selected because my peers felt that this best summed up the images they are used to seeing from me. Its not the one I intended to go with but I’m actually really pleased that its the one I had printed.
Because its the one I had the most fun getting. It was also, by far the most challenging to take.
I guess I should post it? I will.
My class were surprised at the other images I had brought along; a swan, landscape, still life…….. Its kind of nice to be pigeonholed into a particular genre and style but the truth is that I take a range of photographs in a range of styles because I think selecting a diverse subject matter will ultimately improve my images.
It would also be nice to produce images that would fit into the stock photography bracket and this is something I will have a look at towards the end of the year.
Below is the live performance photograph that was printed and displayed at college:
Below is a still life that I did not take as one of my selections but I feel still has a slight dark and gritty element that I like.
I wish digital photography had the same feel as film. I’d love to shoot film but its an expense that I can not justify.
Two further still life images follow. There is some further editing that should be done but I have included them just as examples of stuff I have been working on.
A number of things could be changed in this image. I could have ironed the backdrop or dealt with the creases post production. I could have selected bananas that were more yellow and some fruits that was a little less natural without dents and marks. However, the fruit was bought to be eaten and not with the intention to be photographed.
The cropping on this image is a little tight and there are a few other obvious little tweaks I would make. Again the food was not selected to be photographed but to be eaten. Very nice it was too.
Fortunately everything I have done around photography has been a really fun learning experience. Some of it has been a little stressed but still fun & I hope to see even more of an improvement over the next year.
As always, feel free to comment, email, add constructive criticism and thank you for stopping by.
Jim Jimmy James
You can See, Like and Comment on images at My flickr account
I can see why you went with the gig photo. It has power, the sweat looks great, and it is in a style that I at least do associate with you. I like the melted candles a lot though.
They all show a lot of grain, as if taken on 3200 ASA film in the ‘old days’. I like the effect, some people don’t.
keep enjoying what you do. Any hobby should be about enjoyment, and the learning process. Go past that, and it just becomes ‘work.’
Best wishes as always, Pete.
That photograph of the tattooed man is absolutely brilliant. And, yep. I believe it’s brilliant because you were doing what you LOVE.
There is value in being “commercial” and there is a good reason to have commercial skills in order to eat. Keep that portion under control and tucked away neatly in a box, to be brought out only when you need rent money. Otherwise, SHOOT WHAT YOU LIKE AND THE WAY YOU LIKE IT. Because the more you build the brand of your own look, style, and develop a following, the more you will be able to shoot what you like and the way you like it.
You can do both. You can be sought-out for your gorgeous corporate photographs, but on the side, you can work on long-term projects, books and gets shows with the work you love to do on the side.
When I have to go shoot things other than dilapidated buildings, I make it a game. They have to be exquisite for my client, but they also must maintain my signature “style”. I try to find a happy balance.
Thank you for your comments. You have great looking images on your site and there is a definite consistency in style. Did you make a deliberate decision on wanting a signature look/feel or was it something that developed and fell into place?
Thank you. Well, I think there are two factors that contribute to my style. One, I was trained as an artist, a painter. So, I have a tendency to look at things as a painter would, rather than a photographer. That sounds strange, but it’s the basis for how I see things. And I’m very much composition-driven.
The other portion has to do with the way that I feel about a particular subject matter. This is difficult to put into words, but I think it comes from having a “vision” or needing to “say” something about whatever I shoot. The kind of story that I want people to get when they see my image.
Everyone sees things through their own personal “filter” of life experiences, feelings, and points of view. For me, I have experienced a great deal of loss. Therefore, a sense of melancholy tends to come through in my images. It’s not conscious on my part, it just happens. It’s like this for everyone. Your images are going to reflect who you are inside based upon your mind-set and attitudes about life. And once your camera becomes an extension of you, like another limb, it will then and always shoot “you”, and your style.
So, I think that over time, and the more you “see” and the more you shoot, forcing yourself to always go for composition first and always, arranging the large shapes in your picture plane in a way that it pleases YOUR EYE, then you will notice your style emerge. A lot of “style” has to do with the way that you automatically compose an image. I hope all of that makes sense…
It makes perfect sense. Thanks for your input.
You’re welcome 🙂 And keep it up! I like your work.
Someone gave me the same advice – take what you want to take, not what you think others will expect from you or might want you to photograph. It was great advice, particularly at that time as I was even newer to photography than I am now, and it is something I am really grateful to him for. As a result of that conversation, I have tried some different things, even though I knew others didn’t always ‘get’ them and feel that my photography has improved as a result.
I still haven’t quite figured out the style thing, though I seem to remember reading somewhere that it is possible to develop a style that is your own without getting stuck on one particular type of photography. Perhaps a topic for the pub some time?!
Hope you keep sharing a variety of images here. It’s good to see them.
Its a bit of advice I’m glad to have had. I have rejigged some shifts so it looks like level 3 is on for me. Pub it is then.
You might like this Jimmy.