1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect differences?

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by RovingMike, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    I've posted this as a new aspect of Roger's comfort zone thread to avoid hijacking it. I've told there how years of working in the grottier parts of towns had conditioned me to seeing places only in terms of what was run down and shabby about them. That became a comfort zone I tried hard to get out of because I thought it basically dishonest. Then I went to an RPS lecture in London a couple of years back and saw a well-known guy present shots of cities that all looked the same....grotty, run down and shabby, but of course artistically captured. So I challenged him and asked if he felt he reflected the real character of a place, or imposed the only style he could do on it. He said he only wanted to see places one way, so if he went there, that's what they were going to come out looking like. Nice shots of course, but to me of little or no value. What do you think, I'm sure many will disagree? But I know which is more difficult.
     
  2. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    I completely agree; there's a photographer I can think of who has his own style and imposes it on each subject. End result is that there's no value in the shots as documentary IMHO, and although each individually are great, as a body, it's just too samey for me.

    I think of painters - some have kept the same style throughout their lives, but Picasso, say, changed many, many times, and revisted many of his subjects in these different styles - I find that fascinating beyond the merit of each individual picture. The most boring painter I can think of, Velazquez, had an individual and boring style.

    However, take Salgado - it's hard to look at any of his work without it being clearly his, yet he is always sympathetic to his subject. Maybe that IS his style, but there's a definite "look" to his shots as well - and maybe there's a distinction to be drawn there.
     
  3. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    Some photographers appear to have a long PS/Gimp/whatever script they run every photo through thus churning out reams of different but very similar looking photos. I seen links to some on here.
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    Dear Mike,

    Turn it around.

    Do you impose your style, or does it creep up on you?

    Do you have to use the same style for every picture?

    There is (or can be) a big difference, too, between "grotty, run down and shabby" and "faded grandeur" or "comfortable wear and tear".

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  5. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    Is that style, though? Certainly not stylish. ;)
     
  6. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    No, it's not really style I suppose, well not in the sense we're talking here. Just an observation :)
     
  7. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    I think persistent use of any technique from HDR to a softener can be a personal style, but just more or less original. I have seen some very poor urban work tarted up with softeners and a warm-up filter to try to look tasty. Saw someone completely destroy Prague that way in an exhibition once.
     
  8. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    It creeps up of course, but that's when you need to stand back and recognise that. If you can do multiple styles and make them fit the realities of what you are looking at, you are not guilty of imposing the same style. I met a very good harsh light photographer in Rome once. She seemed to reflect the light and shade of the city far better than avoiding hard shadows and bleached out highlights would do. But I don't know if she could / would have done London or Paris that way.
     
  9. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    Having thought about this, thanks Mike, I realise that my style - if I have one - involves trying to communicate an emotion with an image.
    It doesn't really matter whether it is a city scene, landscape, people shot or even still life. I need to feel something and communicate that when I take the shot.
    I am very fond of seeing the quirky, or humour around me. I hope that sometimes I get this message across. I have been affected by people like Elliot Erwitt and Saul Leiter, but also enjoy Uta Barth's oof style, as well as the darker, deeper Josef Sudek. I'm drawn to older styles where I connect on a more emotional level.
     
  10. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    And then it doesn't matter where the location is, because you are trying to convey something that is not purporting to be representative of that place and its people.
     
  11. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    That's correct up to a point. Well, on reflection, that's not right!
    Where I live, there's a lot of what I would call caricature or predictable photography to depict this place. If you were to think of the Isle of Lewis you would probably think of the Calanais Standing Stones, fishing and tweed making (if you can visualise it at all!). I try to dig deeper and tell the story of the Islands (or mainland Scotland) and the people's daily life in a different, but truthful way. I want it to be the real story, with humour if possible.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
  12. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    Interesting - just the Thread title hit me where I've been pondering recently, trying to be a good & thoughtful judge and all that. ;)

    With some exposure to high quality imaging (from pro editorial, advertising & fashion) and being a bit of a wanna-be Art Director, should I impose levels of quality or perfection from that level when assessing, providing a critique and then marking, work from club members at various & mostly amateur levels?

    Feel free to help my thinking - all views welcome. :)
     
  13. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    Should you or do you?
    From an amateur perspective,I find it rather depressing when I see professionally edited results superseding what I think are great, almost straight out of camera, shots. The content of the image being ignored because the end result is not the polished, what you call, high quality finished image.
    I think there is a time and a place for that quality and it should not be applied to club members at various & mostly amateur levels. It belongs in magazines and other commercial outlets - although even there, its impact can be detrimental to easily influenced youngsters. It's a sort of false or fraudulent depiction of a product or more importantly, a person.
     
  14. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    I think you have two compartments in your mind marked Pro and Am, when in fact there is a complete overlap between them. I know Pros who are no more than camera operators who can't even get out of bed without an AD to tell them what to do. I think the content gets as much attention as it deserves here, but in Appraisals much of the content is mundane or entry level at best and the repro values can be very poor. I think it is easier for more people to advise on how you tart it up than how you learn to recognise great content. I can't follow any logic that seems to suggest that a result straight out of a camera is more honest. It is simply one set of electronics' interpretation, which requires the author's intervention for validity.
     
  15. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    Could it be that style and specialisation are interconnected in so much as those who tend to gravitate toward a particular genre, exclusively or not, tend to develop a distinctive and almost subconscious approach?

    When I look at my pictures I don't think I can see a style - though that may be a case of being to close to the trees to see the wood - but then I don't have a specialist subject either, I tend to take pictures of pretty much anything that takes my eye...
     
  16. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    Another interesting discussion. :)

    I believe that I have a style which is to a degree recognisable. Perhaps more accurate to say I have two or three styles which I flit between. I wouldn't say I impose a style on a shot, rather I tend to see shots which fit one of these styles, depending on how I respond to what's in front of me. For example I may see a nice piece of urban landscape, and depending on my mood interpret it in a slightly abstract geometric way, perhaps a simple monochrome or maybe pick up on the texture and detail with a close shot. If you look through my urban stuff on Flickr the vast majority fits one of these styles. I don't have a simple "x will be shot in y style" mindset, it really depends on my mood. Even then each subject elicits its own response. Sometimes I see a motif and follow it through - for example in Florence I was drawn to graffiti, and in Prague lamp posts and the colour orange. It wasn't a conscious decision that I made, just my 'natural' response to the environment. If I had tried to look for something in particular I may have missed a lot of shots, so I try not to impose a theme deliberately.

    I feel like there is a lot more to say on this but I need to think about it to make it easier to write - may return to add more later! ;)
     
  17. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    I have a personal style even though my photography is almost all 'insect macro'. On the rare occasions I show a picture at my club folk can always tell that it's mine - and that's despite a large variety of subject/lighting and so on.

    It doesn't bother me and I won't try to change because what I'm trying to depict transcends style- I'm trying to show something about the insect that's not immediately obvious. Maybe its anatomy, maybe some aspect of its behaviour or maybe just itself because it's unusual.

    OTOH I've sat through many club lectures when the first half dozen pictures (all the same style) have been magical, the next half dozen slightly less so and by the time we get to 100 it's all 'ho hum'. Yes personal style can be overdone.

    MickLL
     
  18. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    I tend to. A season or three back, I started to question whether I should.
     
  19. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    Yes would probably be surprising if that were not the case, unless they are just recording what's there and not trying for more. Only way personal style is going to come into it is if you're trying to innovate, rather than replicate.
     
  20. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Re: Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect difference

    But is that style down to the subject itself, or exposure to the treatment of it by others? Take landscapes - for a long time, people have been told "only shoot during the golden hour, the light's too boring otherwise" - end result being, well, boring pics. I think it's less the subject, more the fact that we're used to seeing certain subjects shot a certain way, and that the replication is at least in part subconscious, to link what you're both saying.
     

Share This Page