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Should you impose your style, or honestly reflect differences?

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

  1. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Well yes, and also, quite dull really I'd have thought, from the photographer's point of view? I mean, I know there's soem value in emulating what has gone before as a learning exercise - figuring out HOW the masters did what they did, learning techniques etc. But only if you take that information as a starting point for doing your own thing, not if all you do is endlessly copy someone else. So if a stereotype of a person, place or thing exists, surely the joy is in challenging that? I would have thought.
  2. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Definitely, but demands open-mindedness on the part of the viewer to accept something that is not the norm I suppose. I am not immune, I went to the Welsh valleys years ago looking for industrial archeology and didn't find it, so shot nothing. Dumbo, there were streets, people, new industries, regeneration. I should have accepted what I found. :(
  3. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Are you advertising reclining chairs or something? o_O
  4. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    RM, was this photographer at the RPS finding beauty there or merely enhancing the grottyness? If the latter, did you discern or discover a motive? Cheers, Oly
  5. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Oly he was making everything look grotty. He basically only had one style and that was grungy, so wherever he went, that's what the place was going to look like.I told him I doubted the value of that (as more than just unrepresentative pics of grunge, which might be very excellent of the genre of course).
  6. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Hi RM, Some of the best photography of 'poor' places, where the photographer's style may have been apparent over a series of pictures, in my view tended to find the interesting, the beautiful, the heroic - even - in such places. Fazal Sheikh, Steve McCurry, Robert Doisneau (him, again!), Fred Herzog, come immediately to mind. Cheers, Oly
  7. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Steve M especially, but would not really associate it with the others so much. Either way my guy was not one of them. Grot for grot's sake.
  8. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I came into this thread about halfway through and now realise that I didn't appreciate what it was about until I read the recent posts that are quoted above. So I went back and read, for the first time, Mike's opening post and a few of those that followed immediately.

    I must confess that, until now, I had assumed that the thread title was about imposing one's style on other photographers. Perhaps to the extent of criticising them only in relation to your own style. (It doesn't look like one of mine, so it must be rubbish.).

    Now that I do see what the original question was asking, I am not sure that the word "impose" is the right term. And I don't quite know what is meant by "honestly reflect differences". I suggest that the word "impose" might better be replaced by "apply" and I can't see any meaningful application of "honestly reflect differences" unless one is seeking to produce a documentary body of work.

    If the purpose of taking a photograph is to create (or begin the process of creating) a work of art, then some element of the artist's style is bound to be applied. That can be at any stage between framing the shot in the viewfinder, through to opening the 42nd layer in Photoshop, through to choosing the type of paper upon which to print the image.

    Some photographers do seem to have a singular style which is evident in all their work. Sometimes I find that makes their images boring (to me). I guess that most of us have a range of styles from which we select, according to the subject of the photograph and the purpose for which it is being produced. For example, I might use one style (or one range of styles) for a portrait of a man and a different style for a portrait of a woman. I might use any one of several styles for a landscape or cityscape and any one of a much more extensive range of styles for a still life. When creating composite images, I might deliberately make some surreal and others believable.

    But only very rarely will I try to produce an photograph that could be claimed to be an "honest" pictorial representation of a subject or scene. Unless the finished image contains something of me, then it is not my art.

  9. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Yes we did move on in discussion and replace style with preconception of what a place was all about, which might be entirely inaccurate from a documentary POV, yet still gets reinforced as a stereotype. That's what the guy in question was doing. He didn't do happy, modern, clean, stylish, cultured, but grotty, dilapidated, run down, depressed, so wherever he went was effectively documented that way. We were talking about reflecting a place, not picking up ad-hoc shots that might be from anywhere. Core point was that personal style could as well be applied to reflecting the reality of a place as to perpetuating a possibly outdated stereotype, which is where I think you ended up?
  10. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Eric, if that helps, by all means do it. I think in some (many) ways 'impose' and 'apply' are interchangeable and I might, when judging, use both for the same thing, perhaps on successive images just for some variety in vocabulary. If my brain has space and is sharp enough at the time. Usually it is working hard and may be carrying other images seen but yet to commented on or already critiqued and it is a struggle not to use repetitive phrases when under time pressures, perhaps when faced with images with some repetition of technique or content.

    Interestingly, your post in a way, links to the EU Referendum where in the context of EU administration 'impose' may carry a pejorative element and sound heavy-handed while 'apply' appears, to me at least, to be much softer, less oppressive. Cheers, Oly
  11. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    An Eames chair needs advertising, already?


    What is the world coming to?

  12. Rasha

    Rasha Well-Known Member

    This is a very intriguing question, imposing your style is different than stereotyping your art/photographs or whatever for me personally.
    I'd look at Picasso and Vangogh's work and figure out it's theirs, is it the same thing all the time to the extent I don't want to look anymore?
    There are music makers who create one time successful piece and keep repeating the notes in each and every other creation, that's boring. There is Paolo Coelho, he presented 5 or 6 different perspectives in his books but then he started repeating himself and it;s not longer about having the same style and it's just the same thought in different wording. Of course there are zillions of examples like that..I never get bored of Bresson for example, yet it's his own style.
    I'd also think of GMB Akash, his style is apparent in terms of what he photographs, his stories and how he does it, but it's different everytime there is a new story...

    As humans we like to repeat the things that please us, we don't like others to repeat the message perhaps, specially if it doesn't match our taste...
  13. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    I'm sure we all repeat ourselves eventually, there are only so many scenes or situations that can trigger "picture" in our minds. There must be a great temptation for even the greatest to keep finding new situations in which to apply the same formula, and to a great extent their fan clubs expect it. What I was really getting at was the issue of reflecting things in a preconceived way, irrespective of whether it reflects reality or not. That applies particularly where I had seen a string of people who set up a basic idea of how they wanted a place to look, often dilapidated and rather run down, then went to different places hunting out only those aspects. I was not saying they shouldn't, most of us suffer from very narrow ranges of ability, but asking how valid that was as a representation of the place.
    As an example, like many others here, I like what Rui Palha does very much, but I can see repetition in the dramatic contre-jour street scenes and use of architecture. If he came to shoot London, would we expect to get London streets looking just like that, or would he try to capture the real essence of London (whatever that is to anyone) within the limits of his personal style? How valid would photography be that made London look like Lisbon? I should probably ask him. :)
  14. Rasha

    Rasha Well-Known Member

    That's a good idea..
    However in my opinion, he'd be a genius if he manages to make London look like Lisbon :D
    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    The more I think about this, the less I understand the question. You don't "impose" your style: it's the way you shoot and present your pictures. Rui Palha wouldn't make London look like Lisbon: he'd make the picture look like a Rui Palha picture of London. The picture is not the subject.


    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  16. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Interestingly the North Korean Government, for whom I guess we have little sympathy, have joined in this debate and banned negative pictures of poverty etc.

    Now, on the one hand we might say that is just censorship and covering up what is wrong with their country, but on the other one might take the view that going there with a preconceived intention of rooting out every bad thing one can find and presenting the country in a stereotypical and predictable way, might not be entirely honest. Whether you call that personal style, preference for subjects or genres, or whatever, I think I would prefer to know that the photographer went there with an open mind and showed the reality, which might indeed be all doom and gloom. Personally I'd probably find it more challenging to root out what people like and enjoy there.
  17. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Danny,

    Sorry, I don't quite understand. Exactly what do you totally agree with, among all the things RovingMike has said?


  18. IvorCamera

    IvorCamera In the Stop Bath

    Getting back to the original question...when I visit a place I take all sorts of pictures some which are always recognisable and some which are not, I always feel the ones which not are much better than the recognisable ones dont ask me why but they are, large cities always have a dark side, and even some of the smaller places do to, have you ever been on holiday and found a track or lane which is not maped and you have followed it for several miles and its led to the rubbish tip or sometimes a nudist beach, one never knows whats around the corner or where the next picture will be taken yes your own interpretation on each picture will make it better and more interesting than the norm.....
    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  19. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada


  20. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Nothing, Just a spammer trying to establish a legit posting history.

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