I was reminded by a friend, to my utter surprise, how long it’s been since my last blog: November. Wow.
Scrolling through online images this morning, I found myself constantly saying, “I HAVE to go there!”…..”I have to go THERE!”…..”That’s incredible! I’ve GOT to get there!!” Then the realities set in of running a photo business, family responsibilities, 5 months on the road, and just finding the time in the midst of non stop office work and booking speaking events, submitting images to clients, workshop administration, book projects, etc. can dull the initial excitement a bit. The ultimate result of such ping-ponging around is a loss of focus, which can go on forever, if you let it.
It’s important to remember that we all can’t be everywhere at peak season with perfect weather.
It’s important to be keenly aware of the acceleration of time in order to choose projects wisely.
And it’s important to constantly strive to connect with our subjects, to distill our images down to their essence to express our personal vision as clearly as possible. “If you don’t feel what your photographing, no one else will either.”
It is indeed difficult to not copy or replicate in some way a great image. So, do it, but after copying the image (to get it out of your system), search for different, more personal compositions. Try dramatic swings in processing to see what direction works for you, then cultivate that process.
There is certainly something to be said about the great Cole Thompson’s “photographic celibacy” concept (basically avoiding being influenced by viewing others images). There was a similar concept when I was a professional jazz artist. I had friends who, after a certain point, stopped intensely listening to artists who played the same instrument, severely curtailing their listening habits so as to not be unduly influenced as they strove to find their own musical voice, hence the photographic co-relation with Cole’s “photographic celibacy.” I don’t fully agree with the approach. I don’t fully disagree either. As with all things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. You will have to determine your own middle ground.
In the midst of constant, multi-directional input, it is critical to remain focused and as undistracted as possible, on our personal photographic paths.
This is the beginning of developing a personal style, which doesn’t happen overnight. Although, we can all benefit from lectures, books, etc. on finding, creating, developing a personal style, “Style” is a process of time and persistent effort, over a series of many years throughout one’s life. Of course, there are always those very rare individuals who seem to be born with a great, recognizable style. That is not the case for most of us.
More than subject matter, style is more a function of feel. Great style has a consistent visual feel and emotional pull regardless of subject. A personal style is the result of nothing more than photographing every day in every possible circumstance. As time goes by, the subject preferences will narrow and the focus will turn to subjects and conditions that resonate.
That’s about it.
Thanks for taking the time and we’ll see ya online,
p.s. Please check out our 2018 Visual Artistry Workshop Series