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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...

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

    Could be many. I would put Martin Schoeller high on the list, but I've said that before.
     
  2. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

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

    I can see the sameness aspect of his pics … but he does appear to have quite good representation :)

    Cheers,

    Jack
     
  3. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

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

    Identical setup, out of focus noses, same lightbox reflections creating cat's eyes....and he is supposed to be probing the individuality of people?

    You too can look like Jack Nicholson.....
     
  4. George W Johnson

    George W Johnson Well-Known Member

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

    Some people have said that I have a "style" but I suspect that's simply a polite way of saying my image all look the same! I have a tendency to try to de-saturate my landscapes while the current trend is to over-saturate, I deliberately turn mine down. I'm a lot more flexible with my BW shots, I will tone an image to suit the subject. I find BW to an extremely emotional area to work in, far more than colour shots so almost every BW shot I work on will be different from the last. It's odd but I find there are many,many more options to working within BW than colour, colour seems very limited to me.

    Should you impose your style on images? To me that depends upon your goals. If you're trying to build a recognisable brand ( photographers Hengki and Mark Littlejohn have very distinct and unique styles ) then you have to have consistency to ensure people always know it's you and your work and will buy from you. However if your goal is to make the very best image of a place then surely artistry should be the primary goal and you should adapt your processing/editing to reflect the image as you feel it should look.
     
  5. Derek_R

    Derek_R Well-Known Member

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

    Perhaps I've missed the point, but if one sets out to be a documentary photographer then wouldn't the ideal be to represent the subjects as honestly as one can, given that there will always be some stylistics elements / choices e.g. who or what do you focus on? Who or what or how much do you include? Reality, or rather a viewer's perception of that reality, is likely to be significantly altered by the photographer's choices - but overall, using one's judgement and technical skills, wouldn't a documentary photographer aim to be as transparent as possible? {NEW PARA} On the other hand, if one is an artist with a personal vision of the world and a desire to share that vision, wouldn't a totally different set of rules apply? {NEW PARA} How a viewer in a hundred years time would know which of the two the original photographer was aspiring to, is another thing altogether.
     
  6. mikeh201355

    mikeh201355 Well-Known Member

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

    I guess the first part of your post begs the questoin of what is the role of the documentary photographer?
    You would imagine from all the press and TV reports that Sudan was a desolate drought-ridden place populated by people with swollen bellies: is the photographer's role to illustrate a news story (read: particular POV) or is it to represent a place/country.

    Yep, which is why you take any press report with a bit of cynicism - for example the old press trick of taking a low angle shot can make a few people shouting in the street look like a riotous mob.

    Why? If someone wants a documentary photographer it is to illustrate a specific POV (see the boave 2 points).
     
  7. Derek_R

    Derek_R Well-Known Member

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

    But using one's photographic skills to give the impression of a baying mob when in actual fact there were just a few shouting people is surely not documentary photography? Perhaps it's a third stream...propaganda photography (including the subset of Estate Agents...)! :eek:
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
  8. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

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

    It's what appears in newspapers and on TV news broadcasts and documentaries. Unfortunately most audiences (or TV producers) don't want a balanced view of any area, they just want sensationalism in some form.
     
  9. mikeh201355

    mikeh201355 Well-Known Member

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

    Why not?
     
  10. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

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

    Can anyone remember why this thread has a "sticky"?
     
  11. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

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

    I reckon it's just the producers. They think that sensationalism wins awards, which seems to be correct, and conflate it with good journalism, which I think is nonsense. The BBC has long since fallen into this trap, hence the whirring noise you hear in the background. If we put some coils around his coffin, I reckon Lord Reith could power all the London studios and their transmitters!

    :cool:
     
  12. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

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

    Not me. :)
     
  13. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

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

    ............nor anyone else, it seems (he adds after a silence of 10 months).

    :(
     
  14. Ilovemycam

    Ilovemycam In the Stop Bath

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

    No photo police OP, do as you like.

    In reality, we all put our own prejudices, likes and dislike in a project.

    I have a dilemma along these lines right now with a project I'm doing. I will try to put a little balance into it for just the reason you stated.
     
  15. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

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

    I think that ya gotta change it up :) I believe, I'm known, here, for my "shooting in the skids and news -- grotty -- stuff" and over the past number of years, I try to change it up with some attempted landscape and wildlife stuff.

    Cheers,

    Jack
     
  16. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

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

    Aargh you woke it up again. Now I'll have to start tending to it again.
     
  17. AdrianSadlier

    AdrianSadlier Well-Known Member

    This is one I have thought about a bit (not necessarily clearly - just a bit).

    . I don't have a particular style that I know of. Most of my photography is reactive and unplanned - I just carry a camera with me a lot. However, I would like to think my work is a little more than taking snaps. I feel (believe?) that each image as seen - both visually and conceptually, "speaks" to me and demands a certain type of processing. Which changes over time.

    However, this processing is somewhat restricted by my limited PP skills. A case in point: I am currently reviewing older images (I am up to April 2014 now) to free up disk space (and get rid of crud). But I keep coming across images that I never posted on-line (or even tried to process before) as I didn't possess the required skills/technique at the time. I'm not even sure if the awareness of what I can "do" with an image draws me to process old work or that possessing the skill now allows me to at last realise the image I originally "saw". To be honest, its more likely the former.

    But I certainly have a strong dislike for camera club "trends" where specific techniques and styles of shooting actually irritate me because of the frequency I come across them. Case in point - milky water that looks like cotton clouds. Or "street" processed in B&W with added noise and high contrast (guilty) to emphasise the harsh life of the homeless (I actually HATE this style as IMHO it makes a caricature of such people, removing their individuality and stereotyping them - people are NOT stereotypes, they are unique and I would love to be able to portray them as such.

    So, to sum up my ramblings. A photographer can have a style (in fact, I think it is a good thing), attributes of their image making that is like a "fingerprint" of their work. When it is something like their sensitivity to a subject, their appreciation of light or tones, a social or political comment or just an empathy with a subject - then I applaud and appreciate it.

    But when it is a formulaic application of technique to categories of image type I'm afraid I used up all of my limited tolerance.
     
  18. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Now, my normal response, when someone asks me what I shoot, subject wise, is: Stuff :) And, when they
    ask "what stuff?" Stuff that captures my eye ;)

    Jack
     
    steveandthedogs and Geren like this.
  19. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Some threads just won't lie down!

    I've also been thinking about this (again). It seems to me that there are a couple of things to address. First of all, I'm not sure I agree with Mike's view that only showing one aspect of a city falls into the category of a 'style'. It's a viewpoint, and it's a bias for sure, and a limiting one, but I don't think it's necessarily a style. You could photograph that one viewpoint in a variety of different styles because they're not the same thing. You could photograph decay, degeneration, grit and dirt, waste and misery with a sympathetic eye, or with a harsh one. That would be choosing a style.

    I imagine that most photographers who spend any time thinking about what they shoot would not want to fall into the trap of only portraying one side of life. I also think they are likely to develop a style over time as they find certain compositions, angles, focal lengths more pleasing to the eye than others.

    I tend to work to a project, and there are often common themes to the projects that I find interesting so I'm sure a style is emerging along the way. That doesn't mean that I only want to show one side of what I'm looking at though. It's probably a good idea nonetheless to challenge ourselves not to get stuck in any kind of rut.
     
  20. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Yes probably bad choice of words, but I think it is more than selecting one aspect. As I meant it, it is about using choice of subject, aspect, whatever, plus personal style to depict something in a certain way, whether it is representative or not. Came as I said from a good photographer telling everyone that wherever he went it was going to end up looking run down and grotty, because that was what he did. He was not interesting on what the overall reality might be. It affected me after I did Alfama for several years, I made Rome look like that.
    A case in point is one of our merry throng is about to go to do street photography in a city famous in the past for slums etc (well parts of it). Will he come back with reinforcement for the (now somewhat stereotyped) impression of the place, or give us the present day reality? Up to him entirely, but for me seeking out the bits that just reinforce the stereotype might be considered something of an easy option by some?
     

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