As photographers, we all have our own style and, usually, it is based on our own personal preference. In photography, our style is our voice; it is the look and feel and attitude that we put out to the world in our images. Our style says more about us as artists than most anything.
For some photographers, style is easy. It’s like breathing-they know what they want and that’s what they create. For others, it is a constant struggle to find their voice. I have always fallen into the former category. Whether that’s good or bad, I still don’t know, but I’ve always been sure of what I want:
I want graceful form.
I want warm genuine expressions that start from the heart and make it all the way up to the eyes.
I want sparkling light that drapes a subject.
I want color that looks ALIVE.
I want something that does not look like it came out of a camera phone.
And, I want simplicity. A camera, a reflector, a subject, and light. That’s it.
And to be honest, I feel a little bad sometimes. When I see others on-location shooting with tons of gear and lights and umbrellas and cameras strapped to their person, I look down at my camera and reflector and think, “Man, I hope my clients aren’t wondering why I’m not using all that.” I own all that gear, sure, but I learned a long time ago that, for me, it becomes a hindrance; it gets in between me and my subject.
But I’ve been in the photography business a long time. And, as any artist will tell you, it’s important that you push yourself to stay fresh and cutting edge in your work, so recently, I tried something a little different. I processed an image and did a total 180; I changed up the color, look and feel of my normal style. I blew out skin tones; pumped up the cyan and desaturated the entire thing. It felt strange to me, and I wasn’t loving it, but I thought, perhaps, that I should consider it.
As the image was sitting on the desktop, my daughter walked by. She paused for a moment, in between bites of pizza, and said, “That’s different looking.”
“What do you think of it?” I asked.
Without missing a beat, she said, “It looks like an Instagram photo.”
Which is exactly what I had been thinking. Lesson learned. Stick to the style you love.