I have come to the conclusion that I lack style. Not in the way I dress or carry myself … well … OK, that too, but that’s not the style I’m talking about. I’m talking about my photography. I feel I lack that distinctive style (whatever it is) that defines one’s work. A signature style. At least I think I do.
I started thinking about it when I was going through my Nevada images looking for an image for today. I came across this image of the Manhattan Storage building in Manhattan, Nevada. I originally processed it the same way as the others from this set — subdued HDR processing (if that’s even a technique), muted colors, slight stylization. When I rediscovered it, some six months after initially processing it, I decided this image would be better in Black and White. I went back to the original base bracket and did the conversion to B&W.
I guess at the end of the day, lacking a “signature style” is not a bad thing. In the creative process we adapt, we evolve, we stumble, we improve.
Personally, Bob, I think worrying about a style is a bit cramping and limiting. Each photograph has its own life and deserves its own treatment. Sure, we do have trends in what we like to apply to things, but as you say, it evolves and adapts as we move along. Make images that please your eye and be happy with it, just like this one! Cool black and white conversion! I like!
I’ve given style some thought as well in recent months. I’m not sure I have one either. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it but I know what you mean. There are images out there that you look at and you go “Oh that’s by so and so” because it’s so distinctive. I think ultimately as my photography skills continue to grow my style will emerge.
I believe that a style will always be more evident in the images that you are most comfortable producing. To me, your mill images definitely have a recognizable style that is all yours. Other images may require different treatment and processing, but still reflect your approach and taste.
Love the B&W conversion in this shot, btw.
I have been thinking about this idea of a personal style and I am beginning to believe that it may be detrimental to the creative process. If you have a distinctive style that can be produced by a couple of presets in Lightroom or other post-processing software, I think it leads to automation and, therefore, you may miss out on maybe producing a far better image through experimentation.
I think one issue is that it is hard to become known or get widespread appreciation as a photographic generalist. Even we hobbyists crave an audience to one degree or another, and few people manage to accumulate a substantial number of fans or followers by showing photos of a wide variety of subjects in a wide variety of styles. How often, if ever, have you had a conversation in which you or another participant said or wrote “you have to check out ____ – s/he photographs all sorts of stuff and each one looks different, but great.” No. in my experience i’ts always “check out ___, s/he does these amazing images of _______” or “________ has this outstanding B&W/HDR/pseudo-film/super clean/high-contrast/off-colored/textured look.” It’s hard to get traction without one or the other. Bob, you’re certainly know for both Mill Shots and more particularly stairways. On top of that, don’t forget that composition can be part of a style, and I think there is a certain unity of composition in many of your architectural shots that cuts across a variety of processing techniques.
Beautiful monochrome, Bob. I actually enjoy your photographic variety. After my almost 50 years of photo fun, I still haven’t found a signature style. That’s the fun of it. 🙂