Tag Archives: emotion

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!

The Emotional Factor

18 Jun

Not too long go I watched a video about what Lorne Resnick – an accomplished travel photographer – thinks makes a photo special.  In a nutshell, he said that of course there have to be strong technical elements…comp, edits, light, framing, etc.  But in the end, for him, the “wow factor” comes from the emotional impact an image has on the viewer.

Is it a scene we connect with?

I’ve stewed this idea over in my mind since watching the videos, thinking back on all of the joking commentary I’ve heard about newborn and baby animal photos…  “If you want guaranteed success as a photographer, cute kitten photos are the way to go!”

Does Lorne’s idea of emotional impact cover the aforementioned, slightly snarky comments (not my comments, I’d like to point out!!) about Anne Geddes and Golden Retriever Calenders?

In my own world, obviously I put my heart into my own photographs, but there is no denying that the strongest emotional impact is the photos I have of my loved ones.  I think most people are that way – you love a photo of the Eiffel Tower on your wall because it represents an idea of love, mystery and a place you want to see.  But you LLLLLOOOOOOOVVVVEEEEE every photo of your child, niece, nephew, grandchild and calico meow named “Whiskers”.

I’ve learned to appreciate both types of photo-love for what they are, and while I obviously try to improve my ability to translate the feeling of the places I’ve been with every image I take – sometimes I just like to bask in the emotional connection I have with an image.

That being said, yesterday I lost my not-quite-8-year old greyhound Izzy to cancer.  It’s been a tough few months, but photos like this – him feeling alive and full of humor and spirit help me remember that our time together was more than worth it.



I’ll miss you, Doodle-Bug. ❤