How does a photographer find their own photographic expression? Have you ever wondered? I often wonder if or when I’ll ever find or be content with mine. I often feel that I’m in search of my own expression, or for the right expression. This search has gotten me to see that there is some advice that I believe has helped me to define my style…
The first advice – consume…
The first one is: “Consume and collect” images. Both images that you like as well as images that you do not like. By looking at, and being inspired by, other photographers work, you will find what you like and dislike. What kind of aesthetic do you like and why. When you’ve found work you like, try to imitate the style of these images. Try to emulate both content and style because through your copies, your work you will sooner or later move beyond inspiration and you will create work that is only yours.
I know that the advice of collecting and consuming sounds fine. But to be honest it’s harder than it sounds. How do I know if and when I will leave my role models work behind?
I haven’t a good answer to this last question; but I know we learn by studing the masters.
The second advice – do what you like
Another piece of advice that will help you to find your own expression or style is to do the work that you like to do. Do work or photos that you have a easy time doing. Do those images that are done without any effort. Those images contain you and your style. You shouldn’t read in this advice that I’m saying that you don’t have to put any thought behind your work, because I think we all need to do that.
My style is connected with the pictures that I like to do, most of them aren’t to difficult to do. I see my style in the images that I do time after time. They are me. Somewhere I read that my style can be found in those images that I think are trivial, not special; they are in short, an expression of me.
I hesitate about my expression
During a photographic workshop I attended, the workshop leader defined my expression, my style, my aesthetic as hazy. To be honest, hazy didn’t feel like a compliment, or something that good photographers ought to be. After the workshop I decided to try to leave that expression, because I wanted to be anything else but hazy. I wanted to fit the convention, to make crystal clear images like most photographers do. No one seems to like the hazy style anyway. But in the process of finding a “better” style and leaving the hazy version behind, I may have lost myself.
My desire to find a style that I can stand by, that is me, is difficult. I hesitate all the time. I have come to realize that somewhere in the hazy expression is ‘I’. It corresponds with my vision of photography as something that doesn’t become complete until it meets the viewer. I like images that leave something for the viewer’s imagination. I want the viewer to be involved in creating the image by filling in the missing pieces.
Let your subject guide you to find an expression
I also believe that a photographer’s expression can be seen in the choice of subjects and in the topics we choose to work with. I think that my style is corresponding with my desire or my need to explore the same stories, again and again. Yes, I’ve tried to find other stories than those dealing with loneliness, searching for a family, love and a need to belong. But no matter how hard I try, I return to these themes. These are the issues that concern me. They’re what I want to process, explain and find answers to.
Your expression will be a reflection of you
I think that in the end, I’ll find that my style as a photographer is only a reflection of me. On a good day I like it and on a bad day I only want to change it… I guess that is part of me too, both as a photographer and as a person.
“I’ll find that my style as a photographer is only a reflection of me.” I love this and honestly it sounds like something to strive for, even though I know it means you’re not going to like your work sometimes, but personal work that reflects who you are can be so very appealing. Hazy may sound negative, but my work often fits into that adjective as well and I think the process of blurring toys to some extent, whether through light, dof, etc can be quite interesting.
Your work is beautiful, and I’m glad you’ve continued to create work that drives you and that you’re passionate about. I completely agree that studying work is harder than it sounds, but as you’ve said, can be revolutionary in knowing yourself and continuing to improve your work.
Wonderful post. Thank you.
Thank you Jennifer, for letting me hear you thoughts about my work and my thoughts about it. I’m a great fan of your work – I love your stile and the way you work the light 🙂 I’m a big fan! So thanks for letting me know./kristina
I really enjoyed this post Kristina. I think it is about as raw and vulnerable as I have ever seen you. In this post you connect the dots not only about your own work but about how you got to your style. I don’t think any of us can help creating work that reflects who we are when we are honest with ourselves. When we look inward through the lens of those we admire, something true can’t help but come out the other side. Or at least thats the hope! I like how you purposefully create an image the is open ended allowing the view to bring themselves to the image. I think this is an excellent way to engage the viewer. Another lovely post and a beautiful image!
thank you Shelly 🙂
I really enjoyed reading this post Kristina. I don’t think of your work as “hazy”. I would describe it as “glowing” and beautiful. The lighting in your latest series of Leia photos is angelic.
I can really relate to your second advice “Do what you like”. I often feel insecure regarding my photos since they aren’t outdoors and sometimes I feel that they are too “cute”. But the truth is that I prefer shooting indoors and I like “cute”, so thank you for that advice. I’m going to keep doing what I like 🙂
Great post! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you Lynn! In my opnion sweet is good, and better an good as well. Keep up the beautiful work.
Don’t know if I have a “style” in my photos but I love macro aswell so a little blurness there will always be. I see so many on Insta and G+ and can almost say who it is just by their style. Me?? Feels like I’m all over the place, nothing that is me. But must I have a special style? I don’t know.
Sometimes I think that if you do what you feel you have to do, your style will eventually find you…
That’s also how I understand your post’s last paragraphs.
suddenly you end up in that corner 🙂
That sound slightly negative – so I’d like to share an afterthought I had listening to John Zorn on my way to work this morning: There are always artists (whom I sometimes tag “too good for their own good”) who seem to be able and willling to do everything. It seems fairly common in contemporary Jazz – I could provide a list. It may be a symptom of postmodernity, but I can well live with it if I call it ‘speaking with different voices.’ And why not? Maybe style gets overrated…
But visitng your home page I just realized I very much like yours!
Recently, I was told that among my pictures, it was necessary to redo or remove those that had blur …
I agree that we prefer the sharp pictures. I also agree that my photos remain blurry for those who “vibrate” as well. This is their “color”. For me, it is normal that images should have the right to be blurred, if they are beautiful thus, and they vibrate with a beauty that I like. Normal, in life, behind the picture I take, I am myopic. ^^
How can I be told that an image “must be clear”, since each time I remove my glasses, the world becomes blurry?
In the blur, I see shapes, colors dancing and changing, vibrating differently. For me, it is as beautiful as Impressionism. And at the beginning too, impressionism was shifted, ahead of its time, even refused in the galleries. Today, these paintings are in all the Museums of Art … So what ? ^^