One thing I battle with myself over is a sense of identity with my photography, I certainly don’t feel like I have a specific style, in fact, I know I don’t. But I have recently been reminded of this when watching a video from Sean Tucker on YouTube. For anyone that’s not come across his channel, I wholly recommend it, there’s lots of great videos well edited, and the content feels genuine, not regurgitated or recycled. For more thoughts on his channel among some others I like, checkout my earlier post on finding inspiration.
During this video, he discusses developing a personal style and creating consistency within your images. Something that I’ve often thought, and this reminded me was I definitely do not seem to fall into a consistent style and so I’ve been asking myself if I should do, or if I need to. Now I’m not a professional photographer, or trying to be, so I’ve been debating the importance of this in my photography, and I still haven’t come to a conclusion, but I’ll share my thoughts.
Firstly there are huge benefits to developing and owning your own style, in the professional world, being known for something specific and being able to deliver that consistently is key, and not only with photography. To draw a parallel with cars, there are brands that aim at the more premium market, and others at the more budget end of the spectrum, attempts to cross-over are often looked upon with concern. When it comes to business, and this includes customer-provider interactions as well as employee-employer interactions, surprises are generally a bad thing. So having a specific style is certainly one way of advertising that you minimize that risk of surprise. I’ve not come across any good examples of a professional photographer marketing the approach of being able to produce any style, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work. Additionally, embracing your style allows you to target your marketing to the appropriate audiences, which can make a time intensive process more manageable.
That’s some of the benefits to professionals or those looking to enter the professional world, so does that mean amateurs need not worry? Well, I think for many it is, and should be important. For many photographers interacting with the community, whether online, or through competitions, clubs etc is a key part of photography, and that experience can be enhanced through developing a style unique to yourself that you can be synonymous with. With the world of social media, engagement with the community has become easier, but to do it successfully is difficult. Being synonymous with a style will attract people as followers, because people are more likely to get see the content they are looking for, and less likely to encounter content they’re not.
So where does that leave me and my predicament? Even outside photography, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt I fell into one style of anything. I’ve always enjoyed doing and trying many different things, I guess I’m probably a pretty text book example of a jack of all trades. I think I would actually find it very hard to stick to a single style, I often look at an image straight out of the camera and feel I know what I want to do with it, but that’s not driven by using a theme. As a test, I thought I’d take a few images I’ve processed in the way I felt got the result I intended (as I processed them at the time), and tried to process them in a way to match some others.
From these three photos my preferred edits are not a single row, so does that mean I’m not consistent, I guess so. Equally, below is a photo edited in a style I wouldn’t normally use, but it felt like it worked on this image. Maybe the mix up of editing style makes for a painful instagram account, but then again, my mix of landscape followed by more abstract black and whites probably does that as well. In some ways this probably stems from not wanting to miss out, or to feel like there’s more to photography than I’m seeing. Trying a bit of everything to find what resonates.Or maybe I’ve not found anything I’m uniquely good at within photography. Either way, I can’t see me moving away from this for a while.
So maybe its just me, destined to float along in genre limbo, never settling on a style. I can live with that, I could have worse things to worry about (and for that I’m grateful). But maybe one day that view will change.
One thought on “Photographic style/consistency”