This is the final article in our “personal style” series, which, so far, has introduced personal style and covered the two different ways to form one. Here, I’ll cover a slightly different topic — the pros and cons of seeking out a personal style in your own photography, including how to do so without compromising your unique vision on the world.
If someone is very familiar with your style of photography, it’s not outlandish to think that they could pick out one of your photos in a crowd — even if, for example, you’re a macro photographer, and the crowd includes nothing but macro photos. I’ll frequently see a shot on Instagram or 500px and recognize who took it, even before I see their name appear; that’s the power of personal style. At the same time, when I try to do this, I’m often wrong. It seems that certain “styles” are adopted by more than just one photographer, often very convincingly. In this article, continuing the other personal style discussion, I’ll try to pinpoint the ways in which someone’s style can arise, as well as the problems with replicating another photographer’s personal style.
So I wasn’t sure that I wanted to write about shooting this location (especially since my last post was about finding local subjects) but I’ve shot a few waterfalls around the world, and plenty at home in the UK, so I thought I might offer some small, meagre insights into capturing their spectacle. Even if the insights aren’t useful to you it may stand alone as a fluff postcard piece. Niagara Falls, whose popularity is undoubtedly due in part to their easy accessibility, are not the most spectacular waterfalls I’ve ever seen. But I did spend a few hours here (on the Canadian side) looking for evermore interesting shots and, of course, in the changing light throughout the day.
The concept of personal style is a fundamental topic in all art, not just photography. Everyone has their own way of seeing the world, and everything that people create is based upon this underlying uniqueness. In terms of photography, though, even mentioning personal style can seem strange — since our work is inherently based upon the real world, is it even possible to have a unique style? This question is especially relevant for fields like landscape and wildlife photography, which often rely 100% on the scene that nature presents to you, rather than any elements you add yourself. How can you insert your own personality into an image that mirrors the way the world actually looked at one point in time? It’s a complex question. Things get even trickier if you look into all the features that must be copied perfectly in order to produce a convincing forgery (or a benign imitation) of another photographer’s personal style — and, even further, the implications of analyzing and imitating your own personal style.
Well, Postcards From The Woods just didn’t seem appropriate. It’s not all foreign travel for Alpha Whiskey, though (well, mostly it is). Sometimes I’m happy to amble through the forest on a bright and breezy weekend afternoon. And while it was more about the walk than the photography I thought I would try to demonstrate how even the most ordinary of environments can provide interesting photographic opportunities. We can all marvel at stunning vistas captured from a mountaintop at sunrise but that’s been done to death. Real creativity comes from challenging yourself to reveal something different from the places and subjects you see everyday. I’m not claiming to have that creativity myself but I’m willing to give it a try.
Many photographers do not like waking up very early to take pictures at sunrise, preferring to sleep in and spend the energy to shoot during the day and at sunset instead. While photographing at sunset can yield stunning photographs, there are specific advantages to photographing at sunrise that are worth discussing. Let’s take a look at the topic of sunrise vs sunset in photography in more detail and see why you might be better off shooting early in the morning.
Happy April Fool’s Day! Each year, we try to write an article or two to remind people about the lighter side of photography. Last year, when we said that our entire team was switching over to Canon and refusing to review any other equipment, a solid number of people believed us. Great! Now that it’s 2017, we’re upping the ante by writing four top tips to improve your photography this April, including suggestions that will remain relevant even if Artificial Intelligence takes over the planet and all art becomes obsolete.
Along with normal how-to articles and essays, I’ve always liked reading and writing very technical, nitty-gritty articles about photography — sometimes, articles on topics that rarely come up while actually taking pictures. In fact, I usually don’t even use my own sharpest aperture charts in the field, as useful as they are, since I don’t like carrying around charts. So, then, does all that technical stuff matter? Is it even worth talking about in the first place? These questions are very important to ask, since most people don’t want waste their time on topics that are unnecessary for their photography — do these articles actually help? There are no easy answers, but a recent trip I took to Death Valley makes a compelling argument for why some of this highly-technical information really does matter.
This short article summarizes some of the feedback that I have received from seniors who have downsized their gear, or are thinking about doing so. The desire to downsize camera gear is not restricted to seniors! Some of the actions that seniors are taking may make sense for other photographers as well. It has been quite surprising to witness the number of comments and contacts that have occurred since my senior-related article, Senior Perspectives on Photography. I’d like to thank all of the readers who have contacted me and shared their personal experiences! Not only has it been an enjoyable experience to hear from all of you, but very enlightening as well. One of the common topics that these more ‘mature’ photographers wanted to discuss with me was their decision to downsize their gear. There was certainly a range of approaches that people have used to better align their gear with their photographic interests and their need for smaller, lighter camera gear.
I have a confession: I have a love/hate relationship with seascapes. Sometimes I feel like they are easy, monotonous and a little bit of a sham — an easy way to impress others without having to put in the requisite amount of work. On such days I vow never to shoot a seascape again. And then there are moments when I cannot resist the pull of the ocean. When the sky looks like it will go up in flames at sunset casting it’s glow on everything the light touches — the sand, the rocks, the water. When the tide is high and the waves crashing violently into the surf promise dramatic foregrounds. ‘This will be my greatest seascape,’ I tell myself as I pick up my gear and head for the beach, bracing for the challenge ahead.