The Style Council

Always great with advice for others, but myself, no, I can’t see the wood for the trees. Familiar sentiment? I was talking with my friend-in-photography M___ a couple of days ago. We have a little photogroupduo going and are hoping to produce something new this summer. The question was: what? Great advisor that I am, I said:”Why don’t we just go out one day, shoot anything that comes in front of our lens and THEN see if there is some kind of project in it that we can isolate and concentrate on.” Oh such brilliant advice. Funny that I can’t advise myself, let alone analyse my own photography…
There I was, looking through my holiday shots, half-heartedly post-producing some stuff, playing with crops and sepia and contrast. And rather disappointed I thought to myself: “The same old, usual holiday snaps as always, Sonja. These shots have nothing in common, there is no red thread in that.” I loaded some stuff up on FB, nonetheless, a jumbled up mixture of b/w close-ups, sepia landscapes, colour plant shots, panoramic views. “Where is my style, what is it that I am seeing when I make these pictures?” The answer was frustration.
How DO you develop a style, I wonder? By shooting the same thing over and over again? By settling on a particular format? By sticking to b/w only? By favouring a particular dof over another? And IS it necessary to have a distinctive style, one that is recognisably and uniquely yours and noone elses? (Is that even possible in the day and age of digital cameras and the internet?) Or can one be a renaissance man photographer, dabbling in all sorts of styles, showing variety rather than exclusive excellence? I wish there was a Style Council (awww – had to bring that up here, they are, after all, still my favourite band…) who’d tell me what style I have (if any) or point me into a direction.
There is one thing that runs as a common thread through my recent photographs – a look at the finished album on FB revealed that virtually every photograph really was motivated/characterised/inspired by light. The sun catching the fresh green of some olives in a market. Warm candle light against a cold blue night sky. Rays of sunshine poking through a cloud-covered sky. It never occurred to me thus, when I was capturing those images. There was only one picture where I consciously wanted to record the way the light shone – spotted when I was having a quick sunbath on the lawn. Daylight backlighting. Usually a no-no – but the photo recreates quite well what I saw when I was “lying low”…
Long live the sun!

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