You have found your style when you can’t do anything else. It’s your default your normal nature. Style comes when imitation and influence perish. Its something that becomes one… you, yours. Defining your style or finding your style is a life’s journey. I hope you are always evolving and changing, never stagnant when it comes to your style. But at the same time hold onto its structure, it’s roots, its essence. So where does one begin? How does one create a photography style?
I’m a full-time photographer, I take photos for a living. It’s my main source of income. Its how I pay the rent, keep the lights on and put food on the table. The problem when you work for money, specifically when you get paid for your photography, is that you are no longer in full control.
I stumbled upon a wonderful quote about creativity when I was reading a book about waiting. “The enemy of art is the absence of limitation.” – Orson Welles. I instantly related to this quote and how it affected my photography through analysis paralysis.
We live in a time of wonderful abundance. An era where if you have the means you can own almost anything. We live in a time where people keep creating things to make our lives easier, faster and more instant. With this abundance of choice our first obstacle isn’t starting something but rather how should we proceed.
Minimalism, Marie Kondo, tidying up, goodbye things, less is more. You might have heard of these things if you have ever scrolled through Netflix or Youtube. You might have even come across a few articles on social media referring to decluttering or getting rid of your stuff, or simple living. Minimalism is becoming a social movement, culturally recognised. We have a lot of items in our lives that don’t bring value (daily joy). I would like to enlighten you if I may about adopting this movement into your photography and to try photographing with less.
What if you had the same camera, lighting and subject matter as everyone else. A groundhog day for a photographer so to speak. If we all have the same gear what would make you different? “Imagine you had no way of visually showing someone any of your work, and they ask you to describe what you’re about, not your genre, but what is the essence of what you’re trying to achieve?” This quote from Katy Niker is something we should all think about and consider when pressing the shutter button. What is it that you’re trying to achieve beyond visuals?
Is Instagram dying? Here is a quote a fellow photographer shared with me.
“Although I feel Instagram offers a really beautiful opportunity to connect with others, share art and reach people on a large scale on topics that deserve recognition and attention, I’m finding that it’s becoming harder and harder to feel excited, stimulated or inspired scrolling through my feed.”
You might concur with this statement as well as myself. Over stimulation leads to a form of numbness to the viewer, requiring more and more, but there comes a point where one says “No more!”. This void of inspiration, excitement or overstimulation could be from the algorithm determining what shows up in our feed. When popular content wins over relevant content in turn, this can result in soulless imagery. Maybe my lack of following diverse creatives is my problem, or perhaps I’m just bored? Sadly I will never know because the mystery of the algorithm lies behind closed doors at Facebook.
When most people think of the word Zen, a meditating monk in a monastery comes to mind, a practice of enlightenment, a person being in the present or someone without attachments. When I think of Zen, I think of a lifestyle that has profoundly influenced my photography practice. I would like to dive into the ways of zen photography and how it might enlighten your creative practice.
There is something all-newcomer photographers tend to do, they either dream of camera gear or buy a lot of it. When I started in photography I went through the same thing. I thought that I needed all the lenses that my idols used, I believed I needed the biggest megapixel camera, with all the film features just in case a potential client wanted video. But over time with age came wisdom.
The amateur compensates with the many, where the master relies on the few. One camera, one lens, one light, focusing on the moment. Capturing what matters instead of focusing on the gear, giving attention to the photograph being framed.
After many years of experience using different lenses, I now have resorted to only using a single prime lens. I started with a 50mm then added an 85mm, 35mm, 100mm and 28mm to my collection, and I’ve played around with zoom lenses. But now I exclusively use a 50mm lens. No more zooms and no more choices. But why would I volunteer to limit myself?