Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Personal Thought on Photographic Style

At the meeting last Thursday I was looking through and discussing the photographs of Saundra Salter and she asked me how I would describe her style. I am not accustomed to looking for style as such so I was somewhat at a loss to answer the question. Saundra has very good control of technique. She does beautiful work. Like myself, she likes to shoot a lot of different things. I couldn’t say that I saw anything in her photographs that I could ascribe to style any more than the fact that she is properly using technique in light of the subject matter. So I off the cuff said eclectic. Thankfully, she chuckled.

I asked her if style was important and she wasn’t sure. Well I have given it some thought since and I have reached a personal conclusion that having a particular style is not necessary—possibly even an impediment. For a professional commercial photographer, it is important to have a recognizable style. That is the only way that his clients can determine if they want him for a particular job—where his style fits their concept. But for an amateur photographer it seems to me like trying to pigeonhole yourself. A commercial photographer has to create that pigeonhole and keep imitating himself in order to acquire clients. That, to me seems terribly limiting, really dull way to go about photography. As amateurs, we are much freer to use whatever ‘style’ we feel is appropriate to the subject matter—or even to our frame of mind at the moment. Which is exactly what Saundra is already doing. I would not encourage her to change a thing. As she grows as a photographer, and hopefully that will always be an ongoing process, I feel certain that her approaches will change. That is as it should be.

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