What’s Your Thing?

17 Jul


Moments of Light and Dark

Moments of Light and Dark

Finding your photographic style is a major part of developing yourself as an artist, developing your brand and defining your market.  It’s also something that many of us struggle with.  I know I certainly do.

Let’s start with a few examples, shall we?

For those of you who love HDR, I think it would be safe to say that Trey Ratcliff has built a solid HDR brand for himself.  When you see a Trey photo, you generally know it’s a Trey photo.  Bajillions (approximately, give or take) of photographers bracket…but not all HDR is created equal. Trey has an editing style unique to him.

The obvious B&W iconic photographer is Ansel Adams.  Strong landscape compositions and well defined tonal ranges, as well as his involvement in the National Parks systems made him a recognizable figure with a recognizable feel to his images.

When I think of light painting and luminosity masks I think of Ryan Dyar.  I know he didn’t invent the technique, but he ran with it and his images are evocative and emotional because of it.

I recently ran across an Instagram feed of two nomadic lady photographers who have style and branding down to an art.  (You can follow their adventures at www.ourwildabandon.com) Their images scream vintage and fill viewers with nostalgia.  The realities of road life may be difficult, but they market the hell out of the freedom of the open road and the joy of discovery.  They have even gone so far as to have distinctive poses for their images and a great witty yet friendly tone to their banter which makes them very likeable.  As with the others mentioned above, this may not be a unique style, but they wear it well. 🙂

So…now that we’ve had a little breakdown of what style means in a real life setting… its time to ask yourself, “What’s my thing?”

Are you set on saving the whales?  Are you an artist determined to emote through surrealism? Do you love deep shadows and solid highlights?  A clean symmetrical tapestry?  Square canvases? Good will and human spirit stories?

(In answer to your unasked question, yes, I associate all of those categories with a particular artist!  Because you know…it’s what they do and they’re damn good at it.)

It seems to me that while flexibility and the ability to cross photo genres is important for sustainability over the short term, defining who you are as an artist is an important step in long term success in today’s highly over saturated photo market.  To stand out, you need to find your thing and shine at it.

Shine on, my friends. 🙂

Ehhh…see what I did there?  Lighthouse photo?  Shine? Ehh?  Ehh?  The above photo was taken in New Haven.  Edited with luminosity masks, with some artistic license taken to remove some distracting items.  The antennae had to go, ya know??  Anyway…

Feel free to give us all a taste of your thing with a link to your portfolio in the comments and what your focus is!

8 Responses to “What’s Your Thing?”

  1. David Pasillas July 17, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    And what do we do when we find our thing and nobody notices because you don’t know how to hashtag?

    • seeingspotsphoto July 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

      You ask your hip young CT photo friend how hashtags work, she skypes you a lesson, and BAM! Famous!

  2. Ines July 17, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

    It’s so difficult to find a style, it’s like once we choose one we can’t go back. But at the same time, once we found one we’re so happy that we don’t want to do anything else! For me it has been challenging.
    Thanks for sharing the work of some great photographers and well done with the photo (if you hadn’t mentioned the antennae I would have never guessed there was one 😉

    • seeingspotsphoto July 18, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

      haha Well, really the clone stamp did the hard work there, but I’m glad you didn’t notice! 😉

      I have mixed feelings…a style doesn’t need to restrict you, per se. Take the example of Trey Ratcliff…a lot of his work now looks less HDR-y, but his fame will probably always to some degree stem from his HDR work. It’s like a musician whose albums evolve over time…if they made it during a certain genre of music, to change probably won’t ruin them but the older fans may stick to the older work and the new fans may stick to the new work. Either way, still a revenue stream. 🙂

  3. Justin Avery (J.T. Avery Photography) July 18, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    I think I’ve kind of found my style but still kind of looking. I don’t have a processing style down that I’m super happy about yet. I’ve still got some searching to do and just need time to learn how to do more with processing. As far as the photos go. I always tend to like close-ups whether they are wide angle or just strictly macro shots. We all evolve as photographers but I think if you just continue with what makes you happy when you photograph, it will come in time as you’ll notice that you’ll eventually just start focusing on specific things.

    • seeingspotsphoto July 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

      I think there is something to that. At some point we all emulate someone or something we admire, but your style has to reflect you as an artist and what you are passionate about. If you continue to work to excel at whatever draws you in, you can’t help but evolve a style that reflects that. 🙂

  4. fatimaqureshi July 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    I’m definitely showing this post to my sister-in-law! She would find this very helpful. Thankyou. 🙂

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