Thursday, February 5, 2015

Defining Your Photographic Style

VW Bus & Surf Board, California's Coastal Hwy
 In a recent email exchange with a friend, he mentioned flipping through a magazine and liked a photo inside. He said he knew instantly it was my photo before noticing the byline. I must say, that was one of the best compliments I've ever gotten.

How does one find their style?

Basketball hoop on rural barn, Minnesota
We've all done it. Seen something through the window while driving down the road, it calls out to you. It has a visual interest. You keep driving. A minute later you tell yourself, "turn around." But, you keep driving until you are too far down the road to go back. A missed opportunity perhaps? There's lots or reasons why you didn't turn around. But, that's not what is really important here.

Something back there grabbed your eye. Both your visual smarts and creative instincts were put on high alert. There had to be a photo there, right? No one else saw it. And, if they did, they didn't react to it the same way you did. Whatever it was, it defined your style. It's your style because you were attracted to it. It defined your vision.

 Don't miss those opportunities to define your style.

Giant Saguaro reaching for the sky, Arizona

While covering an assignment in the Arizona desert at Saguaro National Monument, on the way to the park, I had spotted this giant lone saguaro reaching for the sky amidst the power lines. The mere size of the cactus was stunning. But, the encroachment of modern life enveloping a living example of natural history was a compelling scene for me. I pulled over and made a picture. It made me chuckle knowing I was probably the only crazy photog to stop there and photograph a cactus next to power lines.  Most would have avoided the power lines to the best of their ability.

Brooms drying in Olive Trees, Orvieto, Italy

Spotting these home-made brooms drying in the olive trees was a fun find. The brooms were only hanging in a few of the trees within the orchard. It took some effort to find the right angle, composition, and lens choice. It would be been very easy to just walked past them, enjoy the mental note of the unusual sight and dismiss pulling out the camera. Yet, connecting with those internal instincts and listening drawing the eyes towards the trees and recognizing the value of making a photograph paid off in stylizing my Italian experience. 

The difficult part is recognizing those messages and acting on them.
After that, being a photographer is easy. Your style is defined.