I was on a Facebook group recently and a question was posed about “photographic style” and if having a style was important. This is a question that has been brought up on a number of occasions in a number of different forums, and from what I’ve read, the answer is unanimous — IT IS IMPORTANT.
What is Style?
To me, style refers to all the elements, themes, techniques, and creative ideas that an artist uses in his / her work that is identifiable — basically your creative fingerprint. This could be way in which a photo is manipulated in PhotoShop, the way you take your picture, or even a message / theme present in all your work.
If you look at Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of his major themes (and what he became known for) was the ‘The Decisive Moment’. If you can recognize that a photo is about capturing the decisive moment, then it’s probably his [Henri Cartier-Bresson].
Another, more modern artist, Andrzej Dragan, has developed a very recognizable editing style. His images are all dark and contrasty, desaturated, and often contain surreal elements – his work is quite recognizable and often reproduced (poorly) by other photographers.
There are many, many others, but these two examples give a good depiction of what “Style is” and that you can recognize someone by their style; even though some styles are more apparent than others.
Why is it important?
Style is important because it shows a mastery of your work / art / knowledge and that you can be consistent in what you’re producing. By being consistent, people recognize your work, which is a good thing because it means your marketable (and getting famous :p).
Consider hiring someone for your wedding or even just for a simple photo shoot, wouldn’t you want to hire someone whose work you know and is going to produce that same product for you? Or would you rather someone that can take your picture but could give you 10 different styles depending on chance? Most people prefer to pay for what they expect, not a chance they’ll get something they’ve seen you do before.
So the big question…
What’s Rob’s Style?
Well, I think I’ve developed some sort of “style”, but for me I think my style depends on the style of photography I’m doing — I’m not sure this is a good or bad thing. For example, my wedding photography has fashion elements, journalistic elements, and some classic elements. As I take more photos, I find that I’m refining these looks and emphasizing the things that I really like.
My glamour / boudoir work tends to be soft, intimate / sexy, fun. My personal stuff tends to be dark, contrasty and contains either strong emotions or sensuality. To go back to back to the concept of a personal style, I’ve been trying to bring all elements to all my photography. The wedding, glamour, and boudoir stuff is all being consolidated as I’ve been trying to move in that direction — Breaking a type-cast is hard, but is sometimes necessary, to make your work yours and enjoyable to you.
If you think you could recognize my style, or have any suggestions or comments, feel free to post them below!