Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => But is it Art? => Topic started by: wmchauncey on September 17, 2013, 09:00:46 AM

Title: develop ones own style...
Post by: wmchauncey on September 17, 2013, 09:00:46 AM
Let me start by saying that I derive virtually no income from this hobby of photography, although I do/will not hesitate to donate.
For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment.
I visited an art show a couple of weeks ago and took 30 minutes to watch a painter cough out an image...that's all the time he needed. He had developed his style and it never changed.  Is that "Art"...I would hope not.
Imagine, just for a moment, that there is nothing left for one to learn, that the journey had ended...
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 17, 2013, 09:32:48 AM
Man, thou hast both begun and ended thy journey too soon.

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: PeterAit on September 17, 2013, 10:40:57 AM
I agree with you - mostly. I think that making it a goal to develop a style is just plain foolish. I suppose there might be a practical reason for it in the commercial world, where an identifiable photographic style might be of marketing use. But for the fine art/amateur photographer, no. Would you pass up a wonderful photo because it's not your "style?" I would hope not.

That being said, some people do in fact develop a style - not as a conscious goal but as a natural result of their development as an artist. That's a different matter.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 17, 2013, 11:02:19 AM
Wm, Peter, how do you guys feel about Van Gogh? Gauguin? Both developed styles that were as personal as any I've ever seen, but once they'd developed those styles they didn't switch to painting caricatures at art shows and county fairs. Both artists' work continued to grow until Van Gogh committed suicide and Gauguin succumbed to syphilis.

But neither of these guys set out to "develop a style." Their styles leapt from their personalities to their canvasses through their hands. Attempting consciously to "develop a style" is absurd. What IS a "style" in photography? Can you define HCB's "style?" I can't. His work was superb, but how would you describe his "style?" If there's a "style" in photography it has to do with the subjects upon which the photographer focuses. So, I guess you'd say Ansel's "style" was rocks and trees, but to me the best shot Ansel ever made was "Woman Behind Screen Door."

The "mantra" of developing one's style in photography has been invented by people with too much time on their hands and not enough artistic ability to make decent photographs.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: WalterEG on September 17, 2013, 01:09:43 PM
Each of us is an individual and we each have our own style whether we think we do or not.  Just be yourself and don't let others encourage you to falsify what you do.

W
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 17, 2013, 01:43:03 PM
For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment.


Quote
My style has evolved, but there is a unifying thread; when you look through my portfolio, it looks like it came from one hand.

page 27

Quote
I define my style as "cinematic portrait photography." My work combines classic influences such as that of the Dutch master painters, with references to contemporary themes from film and television. But I didn't come to this artistic identity overnight. It took a great deal of time and effort to home in on my unique personal vision, and then to develop the technique to make it a reality. In many ways, I had to reject some of the current trends toward fast-click photography and slow myself down, examine the process and concentrate on the fundamentals of what I was doing. This has been an ongoing endeavor. An artistic style is forever evolving and improving upon itself.

page 22

Quote
... I've crafted a style that emphasizes mood and atmosphere, where my treatment of shadows can be dramatic or subtle, depending on my objectives for the image. I underexpose my backgrounds to create a darker, moodier look with a smoothed-out, painterly effect, placing the emphasis on the subject. The colors, the tones, and the mood from the backgrounds feed into the colors, tones, and mood on the faces of my subjects. Above all, there is a carefully crafted harmony between all the elements in the image, so the final composition looks real but idealized. The lighting and other techniques shouldn't be so dramatic that they take over the image. There's drama, but just a touch; everything is integrated.

page 29

Quote
My style is important -- after all, I get hired because the client is seeking a particular look -- but the style must serve the ultimate purpose of the image, which is to sell something.

With fine art portraits, the purpose of the image is entirely different. Photographers who create fine art imagery aren't trying to sell a product or get people to aspire to a certain lifestyle. It is all about the photograph. Fine art images come together in a series to tell a unifying story as well, but ultimately it all comes back to the photograph.

I mention the differences between these two kinds of photography because it is so important for photographers to create for themselves as well as for their occupation. That's how you develop a style, by mixing on-demand creativity for clients with the complete artistic freedom of your personal photography. One informs the other, and ideally each sphere of your work will help you improve the other and grow as a total photographer.

page 30  Photographing Shadow and Light: Inside the Dramatic Lighting Techniques and Creative Vision of Portrait Photographer Joey L." (http://books.google.com/books?id=cZCK_S8Y99MC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Photographing+Shadow+and+Light:+Inside+the+Dramatic+Lighting+Techniques+and+Creative+Vision+of+Portrait+Photographer+Joey+L.&hl=en&sa=X&ei=y5I4UvvnB8qliQL8u4DwBg&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 17, 2013, 02:08:16 PM
Each of us is an individual and we each have our own style whether we think we do or not.  Just be yourself and don't let others encourage you to falsify what you do.

W


You are right, if you mean beware of changing what you do naturally.

When I was young, I must have looked at thousands of different mags and shooters, and knew instinctively those I'd like to see again and those that held no interest.

From all of that, though not by attempting the virtually impossible - copying another's image/style, I mean - I found myself, by natural evolution, doing things in a certain way that I was totally unable to change: I was being myself - who else could I possibly be? Yes of course, one might ape Sarah Moon, but to do it convincingly, one would have to use the same little hats, the same makeup artist that she used at whichever period if her life one wanted to cheat. And even then, when trying to impress another shooter familiar with her oeuvre, I suspect that one would have to copy an actual photograph before the rip-off became apparent.

I think a photographer’s identity shines out through a whole: it’s a holistic element; you can’t do it in bits.

Rob C

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 17, 2013, 05:06:02 PM
So, I guess you'd say Ansel's "style" was rocks and trees...

Here's what Eric Meola did say (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/architecture_of_a_new_landscape.shtml) -- "... pantheistic landscape images that through the sheer mastery of printmaking, tried to reflect not only God in nature, but God as nature ..."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Kirk Gittings on September 17, 2013, 05:13:54 PM
Let me start by saying that I derive virtually no income from this hobby of photography, although I do/will not hesitate to donate.
For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment.
I visited an art show a couple of weeks ago and took 30 minutes to watch a painter cough out an image...that's all the time he needed. He had developed his style and it never changed.  Is that "Art"...I would hope not.
Imagine, just for a moment, that there is nothing left for one to learn, that the journey had ended...
You are making a very incorrect assumption and that is that developing a personal vision or style reaches a fixed point. IT never does. It is a perpetual quest that evolves, changes and transforms through time.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 17, 2013, 05:21:45 PM
Here's what Eric Meola did say (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/architecture_of_a_new_landscape.shtml) -- "... pantheistic landscape images that through the sheer mastery of printmaking, tried to reflect not only God in nature, but God as nature ..."

So Ansel wasn't really a photographer? Ansel was a printmaker?

I read Eric Meola's essay. I cracked up when I read: "It is for photographers to not only (sic) document that architecture, but to use it to find a new way of seeing, and to embrace photography as another, valid means of expressing an abstract vision."

Wow! Now there's a guy who's really working at "developing his own style." Looking at his photographs I'd say he desperately needs some canvas, some brushes, and some paint.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 17, 2013, 06:13:03 PM
You are making a very incorrect assumption and that is that developing a personal vision or style reaches a fixed point. IT never does. It is a perpetual quest that evolves, changes and transforms through time.



That's the perfect echo of what I'd written some posts back:

" Man, thou hast both begun and ended thy journey too soon.

Rob C "

;-)

Glad we share some common cerebral space!

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Kirk Gittings on September 17, 2013, 06:21:33 PM


That's the perfect echo of what I'd written some posts back:

" Man, thou hast both begun and ended thy journey too soon.

Rob C "

;-)

Glad we share some common cerebral space!

Great minds.........:)

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 17, 2013, 07:15:35 PM
Attempting consciously to "develop a style" is absurd.
This ⬆

Not something that the numerous magazines/websites/teachers like to mention, as they like to [literally] sell a very different story.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 17, 2013, 09:19:02 PM
That flat assertion -- Attempting consciously to "develop a style" is absurd. -- is immediately undermined when RSL explains that he doesn't know what a style is in photography; literally, not knowing what he's talking about.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 18, 2013, 03:36:15 AM
Be that as it may. The specific sentence I quoted is however still true.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 18, 2013, 03:54:22 AM
Of course Russ knows what he's talking about, as does jjj.

Both chaps have mileage and the work to show for it. Where the problem lies is in the concept that photographic art can be taught. Unfortunately, all that can be taught is technique and how-to. You can't teach people vision nor can you teach them how to think in a creative manner: that is spiritual - your spirituality.

Teaching will, unless you are pretty thick, empower you in the use of a machine. I believe that perhaps the most valuable 'photography' course you could embark upon today would be one dedicated to the use of Photoshop. In today's climate, I think that's even more important than mastering totally the mechanics of your exposure machine, many of whose functions you will probably never, ever use. I have no idea about many of the geegaws on the D700 and I could not care less about them: they have no rôle in my life; why carry the burden of yet more useless knowledge. Respect your grey cells; give 'em a break! All Hemut needed was a basic Rolleiflex TLR! Not much to learn about that!

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: wmchauncey on September 18, 2013, 09:21:29 AM
Quote
Where the problem lies is in the concept that photographic art can be taught. Unfortunately, all that can be taught is technique and how-to. You can't teach people vision nor can you teach them how to think in a creative manner: that is spiritual - your spirituality
Totally agree...the mechanics of photography of the craft can be taught to any left-brained creature, like myself...the right brainers may have difficulty in this area.
But. once those basics are within your grasp, the right brainers huge advantage in creativity takes over and leave folks like myself in their dust.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Iluvmycam on September 18, 2013, 10:12:12 AM
Let me start by saying that I derive virtually no income from this hobby of photography, although I do/will not hesitate to donate.
For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment.
I visited an art show a couple of weeks ago and took 30 minutes to watch a painter cough out an image...that's all the time he needed. He had developed his style and it never changed.  Is that "Art"...I would hope not.
Imagine, just for a moment, that there is nothing left for one to learn, that the journey had ended...

Everybody has their opinion. Sure a style kind of defines you and may pigeon hole some if they are not flexible. But it is all up to the individual if they want to be set into a style or not. I shoot all sort of styles. Here is my second book I'm doing. Shot in the ‘style of’ Bruce Gilden...if he shot color!

(nude warning)

http://ifreeztime.tumblr.com/

Prior to that is was style of Carteir-Bresson, Diane Arbus and Les Krims...Everything has already been done with photography for the most part. We all shoot 'in the style of' the masters that have gone before us.

Photography is the easiest art ot get into and hardest art to develop a style in. So I applaud any photog that can be recognized by their work only.

Title: Buffonery
Post by: KirbyKrieger on September 18, 2013, 10:54:07 AM
"Writing well consists of thinking, feeling and expressing well, of clarity of mind, soul and taste .... The style is the man himself"
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges-Louis_Leclerc,_Comte_de_Buffon)

In this case, "writing" can be said to include the "graphy" part of "photography".

IME (such as it is), the temporal goal is to discover and give voice to who one is _as an artist_ -- who is that (wo)man who makes things?  And yet most of my students (I have some experience teaching painting, but not a lot) begin their search with the assumed goal of being someone they are not.

WalterEG (upthread) said this well.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 18, 2013, 10:54:35 AM
. . .all that can be taught is technique and how-to.

Right, Rob, and as HCB pointed out, "how-to" can be self-taught from that little book that comes along with the camera, and, in his day, the beautiful leather case. Then there's Elliott Erwitt who was asked to teach a class on photography and who asked in return, "What is there to teach?"

As far as photographic "style" is concerned, I'd challenge anybody on here to identify even a famous photographer on the basis of his "style" by viewing a picture he's never seen before. Yes, Isaac, I can identify HCB as the photographer when I see one of his pictures because I've seen virtually all the pictures he ever released. But were I to see an unfamiliar one of his I probably wouldn't have a clue who shot it.

On the other hand, I think I pretty reliably can identify a Van Gogh or a Gauguin, even if I've never seen it before, though there are copies out there that can, and often do, fool even the experts. You simply don't develop a "style" with a machine.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: petermfiore on September 18, 2013, 11:21:46 AM
Style is not something you search out. That's fool gold! Style finds you. It's more like your habits glorified. Good or bad. Style finds you  when you work  every day, all day. You push and pull. Sometimes you win and then at times you lose but the journey goes on.  

Peter
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 18, 2013, 02:34:57 PM
Style is not something you search out. That's fool gold! Style finds you. It's more like your habits glorified. Good or bad. Style finds you when you when you work  every day, all day. You push and pull. Sometimes you win and then at times you lose but the journey goes on. 

Peter



Exactly, it's the journey of your life.

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 18, 2013, 08:54:04 PM
For now, I'll just say how amused I am that the only response to explicit statements by a professional photographer, who actually has a commercial and artistic career in this decade, that he both crafted a style and then improved that style -- is to ignore him.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 18, 2013, 11:08:42 PM
Hi Isaac, How about explaining what you mean by "crafting a style." Sounds a lot like throwing a pot or painting a clutch of plastic grapes.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 19, 2013, 06:59:06 AM
For now, I'll just say how amused I am that the only response to explicit statements by a professional photographer, who actually has a commercial and artistic career in this decade, that he both crafted a style and then improved that style -- is to ignore him.
Do you mean Joey L? He had ability /style to start with and then got [technically] better with practice and experience. Nothing new there nor the fact that you should keep working at it. The last idea being the main  point of your rebuttal I thought.
I certainly did not think he got a style simply by craft if that's what you are implying and this is the old Nature Vs Nurture debate.

Not everyone is a retired old codger BTW and when you had a career is of little import to the debate either. My professional/personal work had also developed over the same time as Joey L. But I don't really see that as being particularly relevant or special, the main thing about that time is that it was during a time of rapid photographic upheaval.
What strikes me about Joey L. is that he has an extremely good business head on him, which is what made him so successful. And having that attitude whilst so very young also made him stand out.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 19, 2013, 12:24:39 PM
He had ability /style to start with and then got [technically] better with practice and experience.

He tells you "... I've crafted a style that emphasizes mood and atmosphere..." and goes on to tell you the elements that make up that style. Why don't you believe him?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 19, 2013, 12:54:12 PM
I think because people are not actually talking about say a specific style here, more about the ability to take good photos in your own way. Which magazine articles and teachers bogusly claim they can teach you. Yes anyone can learn how the mechanics of say how to do low or high key portraits, but that's not really what is being talked about.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 19, 2013, 01:00:47 PM
Exactly!
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 19, 2013, 01:40:46 PM
... but that's not really what is being talked about.

That's not what Joey L is talking about -- he's talking about his personal style.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 19, 2013, 04:33:30 PM
That's not what Joey L is talking about -- he's talking about his personal style.
And you wonder why nobody pays much attention to some quotes that don't have much to do with the topic at hand.  ::)

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 19, 2013, 05:04:02 PM
"the topic at hand"

For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me... He had developed his style and it never changed.

I think that making it a goal to develop a style is just plain foolish. ... identifiable photographic style... your "style?" ... some people do in fact develop a style...

Both developed styles that were as personal as any I've ever seen ... Can you define HCB's "style?"... Ansel's "style"...

etcetera etcetera
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 19, 2013, 05:09:51 PM
So go ahead, Isaac, explain what there is about an HCB photograph or a Joey L photograph that would tell you it's his "style."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 19, 2013, 05:25:26 PM
So go ahead, Russ, explain what there is about a Garry Winogrand photograph that would tell you it's his "style."

Joey L tells you throughout his book, for example -- "One of the most fascinating features of the Dutch masters' lighting is their technique of turning the shadow side of the subject's face toward the viewer. This produces a more dramatic look with a wide tonal range in the shadows. You'll notice a similar approach throughout my portraiture, particularly my fine art work."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 19, 2013, 05:43:04 PM
For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...


Quote
"Every photographer has a definable style, but I spent at least a decade worrying that I didn't. If someone asked me what my artistic goals were, I would mumble platitudes about capturing my vision of the wilderness and pursuing light. I feared that my diverse work was adrift in an ocean of outdoor photography. The individual pieces had about as much chance of coming together as splinters from a shipwreck joining on their own to form a boat again.
...
After my work began to be published I was surprised when people told me they could often identify it before they saw the credit line. At first I didn't believe them. I thought they were just flattering me. I gained some insight into how a style emerges when I saw the shoots of several well-known photographers being edited at National Geographic. I knew the hallmarks of their various styles, but in their raw film, as in mine, inconsistent work greatly outnumbered pictures with strong vision. Yet after the final edit, each photographer had created key images that unmistakably showed a unique way of seeing."

"In Search of Style" in "Galen Rowell's Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography" 1993 page 14
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 19, 2013, 06:01:28 PM
How to recognise a painter's work (http://themetapicture.com/how-to-recognize-the-artists-of-paintings/).
The last one made me LOL.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 19, 2013, 08:46:24 PM
So go ahead, Russ, explain what there is about a Garry Winogrand photograph that would tell you it's his "style."

Joey L tells you throughout his book, for example -- "One of the most fascinating features of the Dutch masters' lighting is their technique of turning the shadow side of the subject's face toward the viewer. This produces a more dramatic look with a wide tonal range in the shadows. You'll notice a similar approach throughout my portraiture, particularly my fine art work."

That's exactly my point, Isaac. If you were reading more carefully you'd know I can't explain what there is about a Winogrand photograph that would tell me it's his style, because there isn't anything. And the same thing's true of Joey L's work, even though he's trying to copy the Dutch masters. Lots of photographers do that, and lots of painters do that. It doesn't constitute a "style."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 19, 2013, 09:00:11 PM
That's exactly my point, Isaac. If you were reading more carefully you'd know I can't explain what there is about a Winogrand photograph that would tell me it's his style, because there isn't anything.

I'm quite happy to accept that you personally are incapable of distinguishing a Gary Winogrand photograph from a Don McCullin or Bill Brandt or ... a Galen Rowell from a David Meunch ...

I'm also quite happy to accept that when Galen Rowell writes "I knew the hallmarks of their various styles", he did.


If you were reading more carefully you'd know there was no suggestion that one technique constituted Joey L's style -- it was clearly an example.
 
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 19, 2013, 09:47:26 PM
Okay, Isaac. I'll see if I can come up with a picture by a famous photographer that's not well known. We'll see if you can identify the photographer by his "style."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 20, 2013, 05:40:35 AM
Joey L tells you throughout his book, for example -- "One of the most fascinating features of the Dutch masters' lighting is their technique of turning the shadow side of the subject's face toward the viewer. This produces a more dramatic look with a wide tonal range in the shadows. You'll notice a similar approach throughout my portraiture, particularly my fine art work."
Though, if there's any one thing that is signature to Joey L., it is that he tends to overexpose the key light and not in a nice way. Simply looks like his light meter was broken a lot of the time.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 20, 2013, 12:45:23 PM
Okay, Isaac. I'll see if I can come up with a picture by a famous photographer that's not well known. We'll see if you can identify the photographer by his "style."

Which would show that you can find a photographer without a distinctive style, or a photograph not in the photographer's style.

Just ask Rob C. if he can tell a Don McCullin landscape from an Ansel Adams landscape; a Joey L portrait from an anton corbijn.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 20, 2013, 01:00:12 PM
Okay, I'm asking Rob whether or not he can tell the difference if the photographs he's looking at are ones he's never seen before.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 20, 2013, 03:44:39 PM
I think I'd have no problems telling McCullin landscape from St Ansel. But that's because of style. McCullin's work - at least the little landscape of his that I've come across - is a gritty, dark extension of his look at war and hunger. A desperation heaves through it all; there's absolutely no attempt at concepts of traditional beauty. And we all know what AA looks like. There was a time in the 60s when I could spot a Bailey just by flicking open Vogue without trying to read the tiny captions. I could do the same with Barry Lategan, too. Sarah Moon impressed me so much that I sometimes felt that I was she - not that I felt that I could do what she did, just that I felt it emotionally, so deeply.

Hans Feurer was another man - still is - so distinctively capable with long lenses and open-air photography of exquiste girls in highly exotic clothes. His fashion photography still is, and his Pentax calendars were, beautiful.

Their identity (of those photographers) was a mixture of photographic style mannerisms, partly a product of themselves but also of the fashion editors who picked them because of the way they shot. In other words, I suggest that these icons became trapped in their own look and couldn't leave it because with it might have gone the bread, too. Of course, that assumes that they, or anyone else so distinctly gifted, can break out into something different. I suspect it becomes self-perpetuating.

But the problem is time-related, and, inevitably, exposure-related.

Time related, because whilst it was easy for me to guess who was who at the time, there have since been so many imitators that the originals have been swamped and their presence diluted. David Hamilton bust upon us as a master of fine-but-crisp grain, breathed-upon lenses and gentle girls making fantastical pastoral/rustic dreamscapes. Within a short time, he was aped in such concentrated manner as to lose his original individuality – he even had a go at shooting Venetian landscape (?) and still life in what I think might have been attempts to escape the rip offs. Of course, he might just have enjoyed the change, now and again.

So there it is: at one time, when the competition wasn’t there, these people shone like stars and were instantly identifiable to someone who was interested in the work. But now, it would be a guessing game.

Regarding HC-B, specifically. The more I see of the work of others of the era, the more I feel that they were a movement rather than a set of individualists. Ronis? Doisneau? HC-B? Sabine Weiss? Brassaï? If you see their work in collections together, unless you are capable of cancelling memory and, thus, identification of known pictures, it’s a hard call – a guessing game.

Perhaps it takes someone in the same genre – as myself in my fashion days – to really get to grips with what makes each of these persons an individual within that genre. For a while, the identification was instantly achievable by the look of the models: they all seemed to hang with specific guys, most of the time, and gave them a particular look that didn’t come over when they worked with different snappers.

But things can be perverse: at one period in my life when I was at the top of my fashion game, I did a lot of work for House of Fraser. I was asked up to a ‘do’ at their in-house advertising agency that used to be in Drury Street in Glasgow. I saw some, to me, amazing prints of my favourite muse pinned up on the wall. Anxious that somebody else was moving in, I asked the AD who the photographer was. He looked at me shocked, and remarked ‘what a cheap way of looking for compliments.’ It was my own bloody work, and I didn’t even remember or recognize it – so much for being busy!  I don’t believe the guy ever believed my innocence.

What chance really, really knowing somebody else’s work?

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 20, 2013, 08:54:21 PM
Which would show that you can find a photographer without a distinctive style, or a photograph not in the photographer's style.
So can't we have different styles then?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: wmchauncey on September 21, 2013, 10:48:05 AM
Quote
So can't we have different styles then?
The oblivious answer is "yes you can" but...would you not submit that the more "celebrated/finically successful photographers" have developed their own style and,
when they deviate from that "style" it would take them a period of time for their fan base to accept their "new" work.

My lack of knowledge leads me to this question...Who are the "celebrated/finically successful photographers" that are well know for their multiple styles?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 21, 2013, 02:47:55 PM
The oblivious answer is "yes you can" but...would you not submit that the more "celebrated/finically successful photographers" have developed their own style and,
when they deviate from that "style" it would take them a period of time for their fan base to accept their "new" work.

My lack of knowledge leads me to this question...Who are the "celebrated/finically successful photographers" that are well know for their multiple styles?



I'm probably as far removed from having answers about today's lot as anyone else is - you really have to be in it to care enough to  notice, and my time expired a while ago...

Looking at Patrick Demarchelier's site again today, he still seems to be doing much the same thing, only better. Digital possibilities can work for and against an established style. In his case, I think I see several shots where the same model gets superimposed onto the one frame... it didn't happen in the old days - well hardly, because it cost a lot for editorial use  - and to me it just looks to be a cheap trick. So whether that's an improvement is something else. But the rest of his new work looks pretty damned good.

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 21, 2013, 04:46:33 PM
I'm asking Rob whether or not he can tell the difference if the photographs he's looking at are ones he's never seen before.

Do you agree that he answered yes?

Do you agree that he answered "because of style"?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 22, 2013, 03:52:53 AM
1. Do you agree that he answered yes?

2. Do you agree that he answered "because of style"?


1. But I didn't quite say that. What I tried to convey was that there are idioms that seem to be tied to various individuals, and when those people are the first in their field to express them, you can associate the style/idiom/mannerisms with them, but when they become part of a wave of copycats, then the dilution makes it pretty much impossible: everyone looks the same.

2. Style exists, all right, and I think everyone left to their own devices has one. The problem is, not all styles are strong and neither are they always positive where they do exist. Consistently, if accidentally over- or underexposing your subject might eventually constitute style, but that's just poor technique, not artistic vision.

These are not even minefields - these are questions without answers because there are no answers, simply opinions.

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 22, 2013, 12:43:34 PM
Okay, I'm asking Rob whether or not he can tell the difference if the photographs he's looking at are ones he's never seen before.

1. Do you agree that he answered - yes, until their style is duplicated by others?

2. Do you agree that he answered - "Style exists, all right, and I think everyone left to their own devices has one"?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 22, 2013, 09:41:01 PM
Sorry, Isaac, I've actually been working -- building software in c#. It'll be a while before I can spend much time on LuLa, since I love software development as much as I love photography.

I agree that Rob said he could identify the difference between the work of some people working in the same photographic genre he worked in. Whether or not the difference can be called a "style" is a semantic question, and I'm not going to argue semantics.

In the end, the only guy I can think of who developed what I'd call a photographic "style" outside a narrow genre was William Klein. His "style" was out-of-focus, highlights-blown, shadows-blocked photographs that were said by some to show "immediacy." At first, few were willing to follow in his footsteps, so his photographs were distinguishable as a result of his unfortunate "style." But then, others rushed to copy him, and, as a result he no longer is identifiable by his "style," a kind of "style degradation" you mentioned. It's sort of a Gresham's law of photography. The bad always drives out the good. Same thing applies to music, painting, you name it.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Dwight Adams on September 22, 2013, 11:02:35 PM
William Klein's style is raw and immediate. It builds on Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment" and, like the work of all great artists, has been simultaneously influential and controversial. The cultural dinosaurs will always cry foul and dismiss out hand anything that defies their narrow aesthetic sensibility, because genuine creativity makes them dyspeptic. However, I'm willing to bet that Mr. Klein's richly earned reputation will remain intact no matter what such nattering nabobs of artistic intolerance may say here.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 23, 2013, 04:08:35 AM
William Klein's style is raw and immediate. It builds on Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment" and, like the work of all great artists, has been simultaneously influential and controversial. The cultural dinosaurs will always cry foul and dismiss out hand anything that defies their narrow aesthetic sensibility, because genuine creativity makes them dyspeptic. However, I'm willing to bet that Mr. Klein's richly earned reputation will remain intact no matter what such nattering nabobs of artistic intolerance may say here.


I think of Klein more in relation to his fashion work; in that context, and in my mind, I think it's futile to mention any comparison with HC-B because of the difference in genres.

Klein, Bailey, Sieff, Horvat - you can draw or research similarities in some of the work of all of these guys. One thing you must always remember about fashion, especially of the pre-digital times, is that peole would consciously use techniques to provoke and startle the viewer into at least some kind of reaction, set a mood for the 'now', as it were.

During the 60s and 70s at least, when I was active in the fashion world, there was a tendency to use wides a little more than might have been advisable. Sieff would attack models with a Leica and a 21mm (as well as other lengths and camera systems, of course) some Brits were slightly more conservative and went down to 35mm – myself included – and used these lengths quite close to the subject. As you can imagine, distortion was inevitable and the very reason for using such a wide; Nova, Vogue, many other fashion mags sported shots of girls with optic-elongated heads which, today, seems ridiculous, but in the day meant cutting-edge and marked the break from the ‘fashion plate’ ethic of most of the 40s and 50s fashion planet. Today, seems we have traded wides for the skills of the plasterer and the aerosol can.

However, there’s another forgotten factor: not all photographers had a sound grounding in photographic chemistry. Many came up through working for others in studios, where they learned to process, print and do all the backroom graft that comes before the display in the magazine. But there were also those who came out of nowhere, burst upon the scene by some chance and just did it, without any deep understanding of exposure, development or anything else that is remotely technical. Their blunders, if wrapped within an exciting, novel image, were enough to get them into the business; not surprising, then, that odd images emerged. Which, from an editorial view, was what it was all about. In fact, the split between editorial fashion and advertising fashion was almost unbridgeable, though some managed to ride both horses very well.
 
Then older I become, the less I believe in the existence of much art in photography – of any genre. There are some exceptions where the photographer is simply a painter using a different tool, but such people are rare and becoming extinct.

Rob C



Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 24, 2013, 11:16:09 AM
I agree that Rob said he could identify the difference between the work of some people working in the same photographic genre he worked in. Whether or not the difference can be called a "style" is a semantic question, and I'm not going to argue semantics.

I don't think my grandmother knew the word "semantics" but she was fond of the phrase - Say what you mean, mean what you say.

My impression has been that when the facts don't support your opinion you choose different facts rather than change your opinion, and that's all I expected from this discussion.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 24, 2013, 05:28:30 PM
Isaac, go shoot some pictures and post 'em so we can see your "style."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 25, 2013, 06:20:39 AM
I agree that Rob said he could identify the difference between the work of some people working in the same photographic genre he worked in. Whether or not the difference can be called a "style" is a semantic question, and I'm not going to argue semantics.
Uh, that's not a semantic question. The difference is precisely because of their individual styles.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 25, 2013, 06:23:44 AM
Isaac, go shoot some pictures and post 'em so we can see your "style."
Didn't know Isaac actually did photography!
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: stamper on September 25, 2013, 09:04:33 AM
I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say he doesn't know how do attachments?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 25, 2013, 09:10:17 AM
....or websites.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: wmchauncey on September 25, 2013, 09:41:34 AM
Yeah, I'm new to the LL Forum but, I was under the assumption...which we all know how to spell, ass-u-me...
that those that respond to my queries are somewhat knowledgeable of the art/craft of photography rather than merely skilled in the art/craft of rhetoric.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 25, 2013, 10:55:40 AM
Uh, that's not a semantic question. The difference is precisely because of their individual styles.

Hi jjj, Yes, I think you can develop a style in studio work. You can concentrate on a particular type of model, a particular type of background, a particular type of lighting, etc., etc., etc., all of which can create a feeling I'd be willing, barely, and very reluctantly, to call a style. Reluctantly because none of that comes close to the individualism of the brush strokes rendered by a painter like Van Gogh.

But outside the studio there's no such thing as a photographic style. Concentrating on a particular subject -- southern U.S. poverty, for instance, in the case of Walker Evans, or Parisian street scenes, in the case of HCB, or rocks and trees in the case of Ansel Adams -- doesn't constitute a style. Yes, Ansel was a superb printer, but so were, and are, a lot of other people, so, Eric Meola and Isaac to the contrary notwithstanding, Ansel simply didn't have a "style."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 25, 2013, 11:47:22 AM
Yeah, I'm new to the LL Forum but, I was under the assumption...which we all know how to spell, ass-u-me...
that those that respond to my queries are somewhat knowledgeable of the art/craft of photography rather than merely skilled in the art/craft of rhetoric.

Why would anyone make such an assumption?  There is no restriction allowing only those with any given knowledge to post.  Moreover, having some specific knowledge doesn't mean using it either.

Suggesting that photography is not art, is nothing more than an absurdity posted to get attention.

Suggesting that there are no styles of photography, or that some specific type of photography such a studio work, cannot really have distinct styles is the same.  It attracts attention and allows an assertive personality to brow beat a less assertive personality.  It's a psuedo-effective style of rhetoric.  Which of course means that it is a substitute for valid commentary.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 25, 2013, 12:27:39 PM
Why would anyone make such an assumption?  There is no restriction allowing only those with any given knowledge to post.  Moreover, having some specific knowledge doesn't mean using it either.

Suggesting that photography is not art, is nothing more than an absurdity posted to get attention.

Suggesting that there are no styles of photography, or that some specific type of photography such a studio work, cannot really have distinct styles is the same.  It attracts attention and allows an assertive personality to brow beat a less assertive personality.  It's a psuedo-effective style of rhetoric.  Which of course means that it is a substitute for valid commentary.



Hi Floyd, welcome to the asylum.

1. It strikes me as a natural expectation; why ever wouldn't one imagine respondents to have some interest and understanding of the topic at hand?

2. Well, in that case, your own reply has achieved the same. Some tiny volume of photography might be viewed as having attained some level of art, most simply represents some degree of technical skill, or lack of same.

3. Again, that seems to be a perfectly valid point of view - for you, but clearly not a universally held one. The same equal opportunities ethic remains: it’s everyone’s opinion and nothing much else.

All of these arguments/discussions come and go, and only lack of much else to do allows them to run their course. I, for one, would far prefer to have something real and creative actually awaiting my attention, but I do not presently have the luxury. I sort of hope the boredom ain’t quite terminal  - just yet. But it might become so: the BBC is changing its satellite signal focus/footprint… I suppose that means that those English language viewers living in Europe will now lose BBC 4, the last crumb of intelligent tv on offer. Yes, I known: copyright. So why don’t they expand their license system and offer it to other nations that are within the existing footprint? There are so many individuals already buying packages from alternative UK-based companies – yes, buying – so the money would certainly flow into the Beeb’s coffers from those desperate expats still capable of some thought!

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 25, 2013, 12:37:20 PM
Ansel simply didn't have a "style."

Okay, you've got people's attention.

In every article where you mention style you define it, always differently and overly narrow with specifics that might well be part of a style but are never the definition of a style.  Call it "cherry picking" logic if you will, it isn't valid.

Style is the mode of expressing thought or of presenting information.  Art is a style of communications.  Photography itself is a style or art.  BW is a style of photography.  Landscapes are a style, rocks are a style, full tonal range is a style, all composition choices are style, print size is style, paper choice is style.  All together they define a photographer's style, but none of them alone do that.

And Ansel Adams quite normally exhibited what at the time was a unique style, that of course has since been copied by many to greater or lesser degrees.  His style was so finely honed and technically well done that Adams is of course today considered the best American photographer in the 20th century.

Even old people can learn, and perhaps an understanding of the style of Ansel Adams would help.  The same is true for understanding Picasso, Winogrand, or others that get mentioned in these threads.  Understanding does not necessarily mean any attempt to copy either, but it is true that being able to reproduce any given style at will (most particularly your own) is a terrific exhibition of artistic as well as technical talent.

You mock yourself with any claim that what Adams did didn't have any "style", because absurd proclaimations seem to be your style of writing!
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 25, 2013, 01:10:06 PM
[...] why ever wouldn't one imagine respondents to have some interest and understanding of the topic at hand?

While  "some interest" is obvously valid. that is not what  wmchauncey mentioned and not what I commented on.

There is no requirement and should be no expectation of "understanding of the topic", and indeed one might expect many with an interest to post questions simply because they are well aware that they lack understanding.

Quote
[...] your own reply has achieved the same. Some tiny volume of photography might be viewed as having attained some level of art
Absurd statements, no matter how often repeated,  are not facts.

The fact is that photography is by definition art.  That has been recognized for many decades now.  The fact is that every Fine Art museum of signficance in the country includes the collection and exhibition of photography as a Fine Art.

That is not "Some tiny volume of photography" any more than it would only be true of some tiny volume of music, painting, sculpture or other form of art.   You want to define "art" as "good art" (and probably define "good" as what you happen to like).

Personal definitions are fun, but not in a "serious" discussion where people expect to learn about photography and style.

Quote
3. Again, that seems to be a perfectly valid point of view - for you, but clearly not a universally held one.

There are no universally held opinions, and the distinciton is a Non Sequitur. What matters is if it is a valid and reasonable opinion.  That would be, for example, as opposed to the idea that photography is not art, that style does not exist in photography, and a number of other "Drama Queen" opinions being stated here.

Quote
All of these arguments/discussions come and go, and only lack of much else to do allows them to run their course. I, for one, would far prefer to have something real and creative actually awaiting my attention, but I do not presently have the luxury. I sort of hope the boredom ain’t quite terminal  - just yet.

Since you are clearly stating that you aren't treating this discussion realistically, I do hope you don't mind that I've brought that up.

I'm not bored with photography, or with the philosophy of photography.  Assisting young people with understanding the philosophy as well as the technical parts of photography is quite real, and requires creativity to accomplish well. The older I get the finer my understanding becomes.  I don't see that as a reason to inject confusion into discussions with younger people.  In the world where I live the purpose of being an elder is to provide guidance and assistance to those with less experience.

Quote
But it might become so: the BBC is changing its satellite signal focus/footprint…

Off topic.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Rob C on September 25, 2013, 02:38:59 PM
Amazing personality, Floyd; perhaps your blinkers are Gucci too...

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 25, 2013, 06:05:09 PM
Amazing personality, Floyd; perhaps your blinkers are Gucci too...

;-)

Rob C

I'm sure you know about yours.

But that isn't the topic of discussion.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: wmchauncey on September 25, 2013, 06:24:55 PM
Quote
Who are the "celebrated/finically successful photographers" that are well know for their multiple styles?
Unless I misread, which is entirely possible, you guys are indicating that multiple styles are missing in the repertoires of the celebrated/ finically successful photographers.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 25, 2013, 07:55:29 PM
Unless I misread, which is entirely possible, you guys are indicating that multiple styles are missing in the repertoires of the celebrated/ finically successful photographers.

Off hand the only one that pops into my head is Joel Meyerowitz. He's been successful working in multiple genres and developed a distinctive style for each.

On the other hand, there are celebrated successful photographers who are not well known for their multiple styles, but certainly had them! 

The most obvious is Ansel Adams, known almost exclusively for landscape photography with a large format view camera.  Yet Adams, until 1941 and "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico" made a living from commercial photography and was never sure if he would ever be a success!  One photograph changed all of that.  But it is also true that he did "people pictures", and  that towards the end of his life the camera he used the most had changed to a Hasselblad.  Note that in 1943 Adams was commissioned to photograph the Manzanar Relocation Camp, and shot landscapes, street photography, and portaits using at least five different cameras ranging from his well known 8x10 format down to a Kodak Medalist using 620 roll film.

The question really is not so much if any given photographer can produce work in multiple styles (as virtually any very competent photographer can), but whether many are able to become well known for more than one style.  And the answer seems to be not many ever accomplish that.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: GrantLB on September 25, 2013, 11:06:23 PM
Thank you Floyd for a breath of fresh air. Ansel honed his technical ability doing commercial work and he didn't do his landscape photographs to become "famous". He did them because he loved the mountains and the landscape he was in. Oh and I guess he kinda loved photography, which is what it's all about.

You can be creative with a machine because all a brush is, is a crude machine. The medium you work in is not creative, you are. Lots of people take photographs but few are photographers. Visualizing on a sensor is no different than visualizing on an emulsion. Each reacts differently. I still try to get what I'm seeing in front of me onto the sensor just like I tried to get it onto film in the past. No difference there.

The technical process is far easier than exposing film ever was. Now the real problem is seeing. What do you see? How do you see it and how do you show it?

Yes you can teach creativity. There is a process and it's damned hard. Takes work and a lot of it and self-doubt is the worst thing to overcome. I try and sell my work and hope to increase what I sell. But if nothing sells.... I'll still be shooting. I'm not shooting to become famous or wealthy ( a nice income would be OK but who knows) but I'm a photographer and I like to take photographs. I like the process of visualizing and being surprised at some of the results. I like to amaze myself, I oddly enough I have after all these years.

Oh and please don't refer to Ansel as a saint. He wasn't one, but he was a great guy and one of the most gifted people I've ever met. A very generous man. If you were in Carmel and he was there, he would receive guests at 4:30 pm every day. Floyd, I have a shot in Ansel's house showing the Half Dome (which I believe was the photo that changed everything for him) hanging on his wall and a Hassie laying on the table with a couple of lenses and of course a spot meter. It was after that shot that he turned full time attention to photography instead of piano of which he was also very gifted. Here's the URL to my website with the shot;

http://www.grantballphotography.ca/california.html

Look at my stuff and see if there's a style. I'm too close to it to tell what it is, but I love photographs and photography. And this is definitely a golden age of photography.

Is it art.... who cares!
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 26, 2013, 01:30:56 AM
Thank you Floyd for a breath of fresh air.

Thank you!  And I really enjoyed reading your perspective on it too.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 26, 2013, 07:04:40 AM
Hi jjj, Yes, I think you can develop a style in studio work. You can concentrate on a particular type of model, a particular type of background, a particular type of lighting, etc., etc., etc., all of which can create a feeling I'd be willing, barely, and very reluctantly, to call a style. Reluctantly because none of that comes close to the individualism of the brush strokes rendered by a painter like Van Gogh.

But outside the studio there's no such thing as a photographic style. Concentrating on a particular subject -- southern U.S. poverty, for instance, in the case of Walker Evans, or Parisian street scenes, in the case of HCB, or rocks and trees in the case of Ansel Adams -- doesn't constitute a style. Yes, Ansel was a superb printer, but so were, and are, a lot of other people, so, Eric Meola and Isaac to the contrary notwithstanding, Ansel simply didn't have a "style."

Shakes head in despair.
That last paragraph is one of the daftest things ever posted on LuLa and that's saying something.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 26, 2013, 07:13:40 AM
The fact is that photography is by definition art.  That has been recognized for many decades now.  The fact is that every Fine Art museum of signficance in the country includes the collection and exhibition of photography as a Fine Art.

That is not "Some tiny volume of photography" any more than it would only be true of some tiny volume of music, painting, sculpture or other form of art.   You want to define "art" as "good art" (and probably define "good" as what you happen to like).
When people take about good or real art, what they usually mean is things they personally like. And there seems to be no understanding with those who talk about such things, that other people may have very different tastes. Tastes that are equally valid.



The question really is not so much if any given photographer can produce work in multiple styles (as virtually any very competent photographer can), but whether many are able to become well known for more than one style.  And the answer seems to be not many ever accomplish that.
That's because many people like to pigeonhole others because lazy categorisation makes their life simpler.
I recall once whilst showing my book around to various magazines that one person complained that I had too many styles. This person was an underling as it happened, not the actual art editor and in her mind she wanted a photographer who would do one very specific style of imagery that could be commissioned safely. And that's the key word - safe. Other magazines saw I could do several different styles and rather than shove me in a particular style box, realised I was a photographer who could take interesting pictures and that was good enough for them.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: wmchauncey on September 26, 2013, 08:12:02 AM
Quote
The fact is that photography is by definition art
I would submit, that is too broad a generalization.  I take a fair number of, what I consider, good photographs, but sadly
very few would cross that line into the "object d'art" category.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: petermfiore on September 26, 2013, 08:39:44 AM
"The fact is that photography is by definition art." 


Thats like saying a painting using oil paint and canvas to make an image of some sort is Art by definition. However you will succeed in the making art work, but precious few become a Work of Art. Any medium is a means to a purpose. The purpose and it's execution makes the Art.


Peter
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 26, 2013, 10:27:52 AM
"The fact is that photography is by definition art." 
Thats like saying a painting using oil paint and canvas to make an image of some sort is Art by definition. However you will succeed in the making art work, but precious few become a Work of Art. Any medium is a means to a purpose. The purpose and it's execution makes the Art.

It is exactly the same as saying a painting using oil paint (canvas or otherwise) is art by definition! That is true by all reasonable definitions. 

But you are rather clearly using your own personal definitions, hence "Art", which you capitalize in 3 out of 4 instances.  But it is only the uncapitalized, standard definition, that is important.  It is impossible to carry on a sensible discussion unless everyone accepts standard definitons and talks about the same thing.

Merrian-Webster defines art as "something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings".  Other dictionaries are even less ambiguous, "n 1: the products of human creativity" is from Wordnet.

The use of your personal definitions amounts to a false appeal to authority simply because you are not an authoritative source.  We can use a valid appeal to authority here that trumps all silliness in claims that photography isn't art, that something you don't like isn't art, or whatever other personal restrictions any random person wishes to put on the definition in one more way to narrow the field and boost their own stature...  We can repeat what someone else did, they asked Pablo Picasso "What is art?"  He actually was an authority!

Picasso:  "What isn't?"

If you want to use personal definitions, we should stick with the personal definition of someone who can be demonstrated to have significance.  Your personal definitions and mine are worthless.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 26, 2013, 10:28:44 AM
I would submit, that is too broad a generalization.  I take a fair number of, what I consider, good photographs, but sadly
very few would cross that line into the "object d'art" category.
Yet if you do a painting, nobody would say it isn't art. They may say it's not very good, but not that it isn't art.
However with photography, there are two types of photographers/photography. People who take pictures because they are into photography and those who take photos to simply record bits of their life and have no real interest in the process of photography itself. The blurred line is when people who are into photography take 'snapshots' and now people who aren't interested in photography can now add an 'art' filter to their images in instagram or whatever.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 26, 2013, 10:46:28 AM
I would submit, that is too broad a generalization.  I take a fair number of, what I consider, good photographs, but sadly
very few would cross that line into the "object d'art" category.

But, but... I said nothing at all about an "object d'art", and have no specific idea what you mean with that  terminology!

The standard definition of "art" is indeed that broad!

As previously suggested, "art" is not what you personally like, nor is something you don't like excluded.  And "art" is not defined by any degree of how "good" it is.  Note that the least likeable "object d'art" might well be a classic example of bad art.  It is still art.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  And we should not mistake beauty for art because beauty is merely one possible characteristic of art, but is not what defines art.

A good thought to keep in mind as you sort through a new batch of exposures looking for an Object D'art is that most, and maybe all, of the images you reject are just as much "art" as are the ones not culled.  The reject you find unattractive today, if not deleted, might be the basis for a work you are proud of 20 years from now when your tastes have changed!

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 26, 2013, 11:22:15 AM
A good thought to keep in mind as you sort through a new batch of exposures looking for an Object D'art is that most, and maybe all, of the images you reject are just as much "art" as are the ones not culled.  The reject you find unattractive today, if not deleted, might be the basis for a work you are proud of 20 years from now when your tastes have changed!

I think some folks tastes ossified a long, long time ago.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 26, 2013, 11:30:23 AM
Shakes head in despair.
That last paragraph is one of the daftest things ever posted on LuLa and that's saying something.

That, of course, ignores your own posts of, lo, these many years.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 26, 2013, 12:17:39 PM
That, of course, ignores your own posts of, lo, these many years.

Have you posted anything to this particular thread that was not nonsense?  Has jjj posted anything that was nonsense?

You and Rob C seem intent on just injecting rhetorical confusion into what could be a very productive philosophical discussion that might help "new" photographers (you know, folks with 20 years of experience as a camera operator who are just beginning to understand what it really is about a "good" image that gets them excited).

outside the studio there's no such thing as a photographic style[...] Ansel simply didn't have a "style."

Is anyone here misled by such comments?  We might all be a bit confused... as to why you would say such absurd things and act just as if you believe them!  I don't for a second think you are so poorly educated that you think what you said is true.  I have no idea why you need the get attention with dramatically false statements.

Whatever, lets not be blaming jjj when you made the daffy posts.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 26, 2013, 12:41:13 PM
I think some folks tastes ossified a long, long time ago.

How true, and so unfortunate too.

A couple days ago I went looking through my archives for an image shot a dozen years ago.  It was the "pick" of the crop from a couple dozen exposures taken at the same time, and it seemed the perfect shot to illustrate a commercial brochure for a customer.  But when I found the intended image I also looked at all the others... and one of the original "rejects" just reached out an bit me!  It had compositional features that were a significantly better match for my current project.

Fortunately I had not even considered deleting it way back when it wasn't chosen as the "right" shot.

Every time folks suggest that they delete all but the best shots, I cringe.  The definition of "best" can't be known in advance... it's not a fixed target, and ossified tastes today make it necessary to cram square pegs into round holes tomorrow.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 26, 2013, 01:25:14 PM
That, of course, ignores your own posts of, lo, these many years.
Au contraire.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 26, 2013, 03:20:01 PM
Isaac, go shoot some pictures and post 'em so we can see your "style."

"The Ad Hominem Fallacy... the argument is ignored and the person responsible for the argument is deliberately attacked. ... The intention of the perpetrator of this fallacy is to divert an audience's attention from the argument, usually because the perpetrator is getting the worst of it."

Being Logical p115 (http://books.google.com/books?id=xRCkNvDlRtYC&lpg=PP1&dq=being%20logical&pg=PP1#v=snippet&q=%22the%20argument%20is%20ignored%22&f=false)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 26, 2013, 04:51:41 PM
So Issac, so you even take photographs?

And no this is not an ad hominen attack and nor was RSL's, this is a photography forum, where we unsurprisingly talk about photography and it's a bit odd when someone does not show their work. Despite being as prolific a poster as yourself.

And yes RSL was talking gibberish about style, but at least we can see his work and know where he is coming from photographically.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 26, 2013, 05:19:52 PM
So Issac, so you even take photographs?

And no this is not an ad hominen attack and nor was RSL's, this is a photography forum, where we unsurprisingly talk about photography and it's a bit odd when someone does not show their work. Despite being as prolific a poster as yourself.

And yes RSL was talking gibberish about style, but at least we can see his work and know where he is coming from photographically.

Actually Ad Hominem is any attempt at avoiding logical discussion and replacing it with emotionally distracting commentary.  Commonly that is done with gratuitous attacks on a person, but not necessarily.

Interupting a logical discussion to ask for a poster's images, and in particular with a reference to an objective so see their style, is 1) illogical, 2) emotional and therefore 3) an Ad Hominem.

Your comments may not be particularly significant or accurate, but they aren't gratuitous (they do follow from what was previously posted) and are at least an attempt at logic rather than emotional appeal.  Ergo, not Ad Hominem, but not well founded either...

I personally don't care if someone ever posts a picture.  I enjoy looking at pictures, so I do appreciate it if people either post images or at least have a web page.  But I absolutely do not judge comments made in forums by the images of the author.  There is no relationship, and the comments stand on their own.

I'll give you a classic example.  I do a good bit of Street Photography (an odd sort, because virtually none of it is urban), and of course like to study historically great Street work.  Garry Winogrand's work is an example.  But I generally ignore almost everything posted about Winogrand in forums, and can't think of many photographers who's critiques of Winogrand are worth reading.  The late John Szarkowki is, on the other hand, the best source of information about Winogrand.  I have never seen a photograph taken by Szarkowski!  He originally was a photographer, but I've never tried to find examples of his work.  He of course was the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art for three decades, and took on the job of editing the infamous unprocessed film after Winogrand died.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 26, 2013, 06:12:56 PM
But I absolutely do not judge comments made in forums by the images of the author.  There is no relationship, and the comments stand on their own.

iirc You are only the 3rd person to express that understanding in this forum.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: GrantLB on September 26, 2013, 11:37:17 PM
I completely agree. I look a stuff I shot a long time ago and see it very differently. I have printed scans of negatives I've never printed and now I'm baffled as to why I never had. So yes, don't only keep your "best" shots because some others could actually be better. Time changes us and the way we see, so keep them all unless they are so badly over/under exposed.

Winogrand's stuff is amazing and more amazing is all the stuff he never saw after he took the picture. There's an example of never throwing anything out in spades. I wonder how many great shots are waiting to be discovered from the negs he had developed but never printed! And then the 2500 rolls he never developed and astoundingly 6500 rolls developed and never proofed. Mind boggling.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: stamper on September 27, 2013, 04:31:08 AM
"The Ad Hominem Fallacy... the argument is ignored and the person responsible for the argument is deliberately attacked. ... The intention of the perpetrator of this fallacy is to divert an audience's attention from the argument, usually because the perpetrator is getting the worst of it."

Being Logical p115 (http://books.google.com/books?id=xRCkNvDlRtYC&lpg=PP1&dq=being%20logical&pg=PP1#v=snippet&q=%22the%20argument%20is%20ignored%22&f=false)

Isaac you have just done what you are accusing Russ of doing....attacking the person. Rather ironic? Having credentials or a CV to back what one says is imo the norm if somebody is to be taken seriously?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 27, 2013, 05:50:30 AM
Actually Ad Hominem is any attempt at avoiding logical discussion and replacing it with emotionally distracting commentary.  Commonly that is done with gratuitous attacks on a person, but not necessarily.

Interupting a logical discussion to ask for a poster's images, and in particular with a reference to an objective so see their style, is 1) illogical, 2) emotional and therefore 3) an Ad Hominem.

Your comments may not be particularly significant or accurate, but they aren't gratuitous (they do follow from what was previously posted) and are at least an attempt at logic rather than emotional appeal.  Ergo, not Ad Hominem, but not well founded either...

I personally don't care if someone ever posts a picture.  I enjoy looking at pictures, so I do appreciate it if people either post images or at least have a web page.  But I absolutely do not judge comments made in forums by the images of the author.  There is no relationship, and the comments stand on their own.
Except there is a relationship.
Firstly and most importantly, anonymity online tends to favoured by those who like to stir/talk gibberish.
Secondly, showing one's work gives context - either by showing the poster is talking out of their posterior or more usefully backing up a point of view. There are a lot of keyboard warriors out there and having something to show you do know what you are talking about means a great deal online. Take a professional like bcooter saying that resolution/camera isn't necessarily that important because the clients don't care how many megapixels there are and it's the final picture that counts, has a lot more credence than some amateurs arguing over the benefit of 2 more megapixels in a new camera.
Now imagine someone came to your local camera club, joined in all the discussions and yet in 15 years never showed a single photograph and not only that, they wore a mask so you  didn't even know what they looked like. That would be seen as being a bit odd. LuLa is simply an online camera club and it's just as strange to behave like that.

As an example of context - some years back I posted some things about DJing on a Modern Jive forum I had just joined. I was quickly attacked by a bunch of the regular posters, quite vehemently at times - typical stranger danger attitude. They didn't like a 'foreigner' telling them there were other ways of doing things. Then someone realised who I was in the real world [I had used a variation of my name, so not that hard] and pointed out some influential things I had done within that scene and suddenly I had some respect. Though a couple of morons attacked me even more as they now looked even more stupid.


Quote
I'll give you a classic example.  I do a good bit of Street Photography (an odd sort, because virtually none of it is urban), and of course like to study historically great Street work.  Garry Winogrand's work is an example.  But I generally ignore almost everything posted about Winogrand in forums, and can't think of many photographers who's critiques of Winogrand are worth reading.  The late John Szarkowki is, on the other hand, the best source of information about Winogrand.  I have never seen a photograph taken by Szarkowski!  He originally was a photographer, but I've never tried to find examples of his work.  He of course was the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art for three decades, and took on the job of editing the infamous unprocessed film after Winogrand died.
Except you knew who he was and could check up on his work if you so desired. Plus his position showed he had some considerable status in Photography.
Online you can use a pseudonym and no-one will know who you are and behave how you like. Many people [like myself] may not use their actual names on here for various reasons but have links to their work and actual identity, so are not anonymous.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 27, 2013, 05:54:15 AM
I personally don't care if someone ever posts a picture.  I enjoy looking at pictures, so I do appreciate it if people either post images or at least have a web page.  But I absolutely do not judge comments made in forums by the images of the author.  There is no relationship, and the comments stand on their own.


iirc You are only the 3rd person to express that understanding in this forum.
That would be mis-understanding. See my previous post for why.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 27, 2013, 07:49:29 AM
I'm outta here, but I understand the dream every photographer has of being able to develop a recognizable "style," so I quite understand the frenetic arguments in this thread to the effect that such a thing is possible. Unfortunately, folks, it's a dream not supported by the evidence.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 27, 2013, 07:57:56 AM
I'm outta here, but I understand the dream every photographer has of being able to develop a recognizable "style," so I quite understand the frenetic arguments in this thread to the effect that such a thing is possible. Unfortunately, folks, it's a dream not supported by the evidence.
So by your curious 'logic' all photographers work must look the same. Except studio photographers, who for some inexplicable reason according to you can have a style.  ::)

Maybe it's just that you cannot differentiate between photographers, so erroneously assume there is no difference.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on September 27, 2013, 08:08:27 AM
Interupting a logical discussion to ask for a poster's images, and in particular with a reference to an objective so see their style, is 1) illogical, 2) emotional and therefore 3) an Ad Hominem.
Actually when a discussion is about style in photography, evidence to back a particular point of view is a very logical thing to ask for. And if Isaac has a style of his own, then his photographs would back up his assertions against RSL's. So nothing ad hominen about that.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 27, 2013, 08:22:47 AM
I'm outta here, but I understand the dream every photographer has of being able to develop a recognizable "style," so I quite understand the frenetic arguments in this thread to the effect that such a thing is possible. Unfortunately, folks, it's a dream not supported by the evidence.
You ignore a great deal of very good evidence, and provide nothing valid to support your opinion.

Let's be clear, stating that Ansel Adams had no style at all simply removed you from the discussion.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 27, 2013, 09:38:20 AM
Except there is a relationship.

That (and your analogies) generalizes specifics and isn't valid.  There can be a relationship, but there is never necessarily a relationship.  For your logic to be valid the specific must always apply in an exclusive manner.

Quote
Firstly and most importantly, anonymity online tends to favoured by those who like to stir/talk gibberish.

But what "tends" to be is, by definition, not necessarily so.  It isn't valid to assume there is always the relationship you state. 

A person's ability to explain the technical issues in photography has virtually nothing at all to do with what their preferences are in art.  Objective technical issues are not a matter of opinion, preferences in art are always a very subjective personal opinion.  A photo gallery just demonstrates a set of preferences...

The fact that any given photographer's choice of genre and/or style happens to be popular or pleasing to many does not relate to that same photographer's knowledge about or ability to explain or even just discuss technical issues.

Examples are many... RSL takes nice photographs, and has a very distinct style, yet claims there is no such thing as his style and supports that by claiming Ansel Adams had no style.   We know exactly who he is, we can look at his images, and yet he is clearly posting gibberish.  Your whole theory is shot down with just one reality check!

The rest of your article has the same logical fallacy embedded in each part of the discussion.  I did write, but then deleted as excessive, a detailed response.  Basically your specific observations are correct, but they don't have the vast general application you assume.

Specifically the analogies don't prove your points.  Analogies are great to help people learn and gain perspective, but they are never evidence to prove a point.  You aren't writing a tutorial and your analogies are virtually all invalid in the context of this thread.

If there is one specific part of that which you believe is both valid and significant enough to warrent a discussion, point it out and I'll go into detail on just that item.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 27, 2013, 02:28:49 PM
Let's be clear, stating that Ansel Adams had no style at all simply removed you from the discussion.

Please explain the differences that distinguish Ansel's "style" from Weston's "style" in their west-coast photographs.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 27, 2013, 02:58:50 PM
"The Ad Hominem Fallacy... the argument is ignored and the person responsible for the argument is deliberately attacked. ... The intention of the perpetrator of this fallacy is to divert an audience's attention from the argument, usually because the perpetrator is getting the worst of it."

Being Logical p115 (http://books.google.com/books?id=xRCkNvDlRtYC&lpg=PP1&dq=being%20logical&pg=PP1#v=snippet&q=%22the%20argument%20is%20ignored%22&f=false)

Isaac you have just done what you are accusing Russ of doing....attacking the person. Rather ironic? Having credentials or a CV to back what one says is imo the norm if somebody is to be taken seriously?

Firstly, to identify a fault in an argument is to attack the argument not the person.

Secondly - 

Quote
But it is argument, not just the word of the experts, which should be carrying the authoritative weight, and the argument we are presented with here is far from convincing because it offers us nothing beyond the mere word of the experts. If we are satisfied with only the word of experts, we are essentially being told: "Don't ask any questions, just do as we say."

Being Logical p116 (http://books.google.com/books?id=xRCkNvDlRtYC&lpg=PP1&dq=being%20logical&pg=PP1#v=snippet&q=%22But%20it%20is%20argument,%20not%20just%20the%20word%20of%20the%20experts%22&f=false) The Uses and Abuses of Expertise
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 27, 2013, 03:26:17 PM
Please explain the differences that distinguish Ansel's "style" from Weston's "style" in their west-coast photographs.
Why bother with nonsense?  It makes no difference if they are or are not identical. (And they clearly are not.)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 27, 2013, 03:29:33 PM
Actually when a discussion is about style in photography, evidence to back a particular point of view is a very logical thing to ask for. And if Isaac has a style of his own, then his photographs would back up his assertions against RSL's. So nothing ad hominen about that.
The first statement is true, the second one is not.

It's just an appeal to emotions.  If he does or does not provide examples of his photography it will not change the validity of his comments on style.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 27, 2013, 04:13:22 PM
Why bother with nonsense?  It makes no difference if they are or are not identical. (And they clearly are not.)

Really? What are the differences if they clearly are not?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 27, 2013, 08:25:01 PM
Really? What are the differences if they clearly are not?

Knock off the continued attempt to confuse issues here. It's a Non Sequitur because the answers to your silly questions make no difference at all to the topic of this thread.  You seem intent on posting distractions.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 27, 2013, 10:01:12 PM
That's a rant, Floyd, an exact illustration of what you're complaining about with your continued accusations about ad hominem attacks. You said that the "styles" of Ansel and Edward "clearly" are not identical. If it's so "clear" then it should be easy for you to explain the difference. Phrases like "continued attempt to confuse the issue" and "your silly questions" don't really deal with the question, do they? You backed yourself into a corner. Now explain the differences between Ansel and Edward or admit that neither one of them had what, in an artistic sense, could be called a "style."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 27, 2013, 10:49:30 PM
You have flatly asserted '... Ansel simply didn't have a "style." '

The burden rests on you to show evidence for that assertion; the burden does not rest on others to show you are wrong.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 28, 2013, 12:11:36 AM
That's a rant, Floyd, an exact illustration of what you're complaining about with your continued accusations about ad hominem attacks. You said that the "styles" of Ansel and Edward "clearly" are not identical. If it's so "clear" then it should be easy for you to explain the difference. Phrases like "continued attempt to confuse the issue" and "your silly questions" don't really deal with the question, do they? You backed yourself into a corner. Now explain the differences between Ansel and Edward or admit that neither one of them had what, in an artistic sense, could be called a "style."

Please stay on topic.  In this thread it makes no difference if Adams and Weston are different or if Adams does or doesn't have a style.  And until you show differently, it's off topic.

You want your own corner, and I've refused to go there.   You should start a thread where it is on topic and begin it by making whatever claim it is about comparing Weston and Adams that you think is valid.  You'll be in a corner from which there is no escape!

Lets take a fresh look at the original post that started this thread.

Let me start by saying that I derive virtually no income from this hobby of photography, although I do/will not hesitate to donate.
For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment.
I visited an art show a couple of weeks ago and took 30 minutes to watch a painter cough out an image...that's all the time he needed. He had developed his style and it never changed.  Is that "Art"...I would hope not.
Imagine, just for a moment, that there is nothing left for one to learn, that the journey had ended...

To the degree the first conclusion drawn ("that this journey has ended") is correct, the rest follows as valid. However, the example of the 30 minute painting doesn't necessarily demonstrate that the painter's style is static and will not change in the future.  Worse, claiming the painting is not "Art", even if the style was static, is hardly even close to valid. (It might not be exciting to you or me, but to someone else it might be exactly that.)

But the rhetorical question at the end is a very good leader for conversation!

I've no doubt that most, and probably all, artists come to periods in their careers where their style has become static, it's as if the journey has ended, and they are bored and in the doldrums!  Sometimes it can last for years, maybe even a life time.  Sometimes it's over the next day...

But the idea that developing "your own style" means that once you've found something to take possesion of means there can't be change just is never the goal any artist is likely to have.  We keep moving the goal posts, looking at new horizons... doing what is more fun, more profitable, or whatever gives us a sense of success.

There was also the question at one point about photographers who've become famous for different styles, and the only one I could think of off hand was Joel Meyerowitz; but bless RSL's little heart of gold, Edward Weston is probably the classic case!  He began at age 16 in 1902, when the "Pictorial Style" of photography was very much in vogue.  Weston actually made a name for himself with work done in that style.  But as he matured he became dissatisified and supposedly in 1915 was very inspired by an exhibit of Modern Art at the San Francisco World's Fair.  The idea apparenlty crystalized in 1922 when he photographed a steel mill in Ohio.  His style abruptly began to grow in a new direction, and by 1932 Weston was among those who formed the now famous Group F/64.

Point taken:  Weston's style was his own very early in life and very clearly changed almost continuously, and at some points dramatically, over his entire life.

It may or may not be typical of all artists to make the dramatic change in style  that Weston did (though we might note that Pablo Picasso did almost exactly the same thing at the same age, perhaps going in the opposite direction!), but at least two of the characteristics of Weston's stylistic journey are very common.  One is to have periods where it seems nothing is changing and the fun and creativity are gone, and the other is to be most creative immediately after such a period when a "new love" has been found.  (We might also note that Weston and Picasso seemed to share the charactisitc of being hugely inspired by the women they were involved wtth.)

Hence I would not agree that the mantra being preached, according to the OP, is development of a style to the point is extinction of change.  It does not ever reach a point where development ends!  Each step merely brings you to the point where the next step is one you can now take.  The journey is life, and should end only at death rather than because "your style" is supposedly fully developed.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 28, 2013, 07:47:30 AM
In other words, Floyd, you admit you can't explain the difference between Ansel's and Edward's "styles," a difference you claim is "clear." You went to a lot of trouble to duck the question, but the fact that you can't identify a difference is what's become very clear.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 28, 2013, 09:47:33 AM
In other words, Floyd, you  ...
I'm staying on topic.

Please start a thread where your question is appropriate.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 28, 2013, 10:22:38 AM
I always love it when a debater self-destructs.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 28, 2013, 10:41:02 AM
I always love it when a debater self-destructs.
Like you have in this thread???  :-)

If you had the courage to stand by what you've said, you would open another thread to discuss it properly.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 28, 2013, 11:19:28 AM
I always love it when a debater self-destructs.

I always love it when I gain a clearer understanding. I see that your interest is in quarrelling rather than arguing. Here's where you gave up the argument --

I agree that Rob said he could identify the difference between the work of some people working in the same photographic genre he worked in. Whether or not the difference can be called a "style" is a semantic question, and I'm not going to argue semantics.

"The object of argument is to get at the truth. The object of quarrelling is to get at other people"
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 28, 2013, 12:01:19 PM
Hi, Isaac. Gonna go out today and shoot some pictures and post 'em so we can get a look at your "style?"
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 28, 2013, 12:03:21 PM
I'm staying on topic.

At this point, the "clear difference" you claim is there between Adams's and Weston's "styles" IS the topic.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Gulag on September 29, 2013, 12:28:47 AM
(http://31.media.tumblr.com/2f70e88a2f0307c1aae3c540d72d6e97/tumblr_moyuzdq9Vy1sn6ihao1_1280.jpg)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 29, 2013, 01:09:25 PM
Hi, Isaac. Gonna go out today and shoot some pictures and post 'em so we can get a look at your "style?"

Thank you for making it absolutely clear that you wish to quarrel.



Quote
"There are any number of folk who, though happy to quarrel with you, are either unwilling or unable to argue with you. Do not waste time and energy trying to argue with people who will not or cannot argue."

Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking (http://books.google.com/books?id=xRCkNvDlRtYC&lpg=PP1&dq=being%20logical&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false), page 97-8
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: wmchauncey on September 29, 2013, 01:31:43 PM
What might you call my style

(http://i329.photobucket.com/albums/l383/chauncey43/rising-egret-1.jpg) (http://s329.photobucket.com/user/chauncey43/media/rising-egret-1.jpg.html)

(http://i329.photobucket.com/albums/l383/chauncey43/auto-reflection-rear-copy.jpg) (http://s329.photobucket.com/user/chauncey43/media/auto-reflection-rear-copy.jpg.html)

(http://i329.photobucket.com/albums/l383/chauncey43/fuzzball2-copy-2.jpg) (http://s329.photobucket.com/user/chauncey43/media/fuzzball2-copy-2.jpg.html)

(http://i329.photobucket.com/albums/l383/chauncey43/flying-hummers.jpg) (http://s329.photobucket.com/user/chauncey43/media/flying-hummers.jpg.html)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 29, 2013, 07:15:20 PM
What might you call my style

Ahhhh...  I see!  Your style is to make damned nice photographs!  :-)

(The horrible part is that I actually do see some similarity in what you like and in what RSL likes.)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 29, 2013, 09:10:43 PM
Thank you for making it absolutely clear that you wish to quarrel.
More photography and less pop psychology, Isaac. Let's see some pictures.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 29, 2013, 09:29:05 PM
This discussion forum is "A free form forum for opinions on photography as an art form."

If you wish to see some pictures look in User Critiques (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?board=26.0).
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 30, 2013, 07:32:08 AM
This discussion forum is "A free form forum for opinions on photography as an art form."

If you wish to see some pictures look in User Critiques (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?board=26.0).
I look there all the time, Isaac, but I never see any of your pictures that might back up your opinions.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 07:51:41 AM
I look there all the time, Isaac, but I never see any of your pictures that might back up your opinions.

This will the the 117th article posted in this thread.  Of those exactly one has included images, but I think they were intended to be for entertainment value rather than to support any paricular opinion.

It appears that nobody, and signficicantly not even you does what you insist that Isaac should do.  Clearly you are not demanding that because you think it would be useful, as opposed to just being nasty.

Why not just knock it off, eh?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: wmchauncey on September 30, 2013, 08:53:58 AM
Quote
I think they were intended to be for entertainment value rather than to support any paricular opinion.
Entertainment value...if you're suggesting that I posted the images for the sake of levity you're sadly mistaken...it called for a response.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 09:18:47 AM
Entertainment value...if you're suggesting that I posted the images for the sake of levity you're sadly mistaken...it called for a response.

I assumed they were for the shear pleasure of looking at them!  That is the "entertainment value", and I thought it was significant with those particular images.

Levity would have been to support an opinion...
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: alainbriot on September 30, 2013, 11:52:51 AM
What might you call my style ?

I'd say there are several different styles here: patterns of birds in flight with low color saturation (the cranes), patterns of birds in flight with high color saturation (the hummingbirds), black and white images focused on graphic qualities (the dandelion), and color 'effervescense' (the car).  A diversity of subjects as well: animals in a wild environment (the cranes in flight), nature (the dandelion), man made objects (the car) , and animals in a man made environment (the hummingbirds next to the feeder).  Each image is interesting and aesthetic in its own right but if they were not posted in the same thread I could not say they were taken by the same photographer because each has a different focus and style.  My impression is you are exploring the possibilities offered by photography rather than focus on a specific direction (?).
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 30, 2013, 12:22:03 PM
It appears that nobody, and signficicantly (sic) not even you does what you insist that Isaac should do.  Clearly you are not demanding that because you think it would be useful, as opposed to just being nasty.

Why not just knock it off, eh?
Hi Floyd, You might want to ask somebody on here about a guy who used to post under the name "dalethorn," a couple years ago, before he got kicked off permanently.

It's interesting that you should take the position you take on Isaac's failure to demonstrate the foundation behind his critiques since you, like many of us not only post pictures, but post a link to at least one website with pictures. If you don't think I do what I "insist that Isaac should do" you can look back through some of my many picture posts, or even go to the web to which I've posted a link. I wouldn't even think of criticizing without offering a way for people to judge for themselves whether or not I know what I'm talking about. Opinions about that may vary, but at least I'm offering grounds for an opinion.

By the way, I like a lot of the pictures on your web. You're a quite competent photographer.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 30, 2013, 12:59:19 PM
My impression is you are exploring the possibilities offered by photography rather than focus on a specific direction (?)

Just as we might expect from someone who declared -- "For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=82268.msg664533#msg664533)...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 30, 2013, 01:08:28 PM
I look there all the time, Isaac, but I never see any of your pictures that might back up your opinions.

You are either unwilling or unable to argue. You quarrel.

There's nothing interesting about your quarreling.

There's nothing to be learned from your quarreling.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 03:40:59 PM
By the way, I like a lot of the pictures on your web. You're a quite competent photographer.

Thank you.  That is one reason I will almost never post images here...

Other than just the pleasure of looking at pictures you like, they provide next to nothing of value for technical discussions.  Instead they provide fodder for fools who want to distract from anything useful.  You know, the kind of guys that make note of spelling variations in other's articles!
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 30, 2013, 03:45:49 PM
Again, Floyd, let me suggest checking out the "dalethorn" saga.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on September 30, 2013, 04:00:23 PM
Thousands of words, and nobody has even bothered a working definition of "style". How odd.

Try this on: A style is a set of photographic made all the same way for 2 or more photographs.

You might choose a class a subject, an approach to printing, a compositional element. A style might be "landscapes, printed in b&w, with great depth of field and high local contrast" it might be "soft focus, color". A style needn't be visible at all, it might be "contains a square element someplace" but that would be an ineffective style. An EFFECTIVE style makes sufficient choices the same way to connect the set of pictures together visually, but leaves enough un-specified to permit variety and interest between the individual pictures in the set.

With this in mind, let us examine Weston and Adams:

As f/64 guys their styles overlap a lot, they differ almost entirely in the area of subject matter and composition.

Weston: modernist, semi-abstract, lots of arabesques, occasional human figures or parts of same.
Adams: traditionalist, pictorial, easily identifiable natural subjects, almost never human figures, almost always objects of nature.

Of course within each of their bodies of work there are individual periods and portfolios that refine the over-arching styles into a portfolio specific style. In Weston's case the styles sometimes included "sensual object with curves and arabesques placed centrally in the frame on a black background."

Weston's work was pretty much 100% about sex, and Adams died a pictorialist.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on September 30, 2013, 04:01:08 PM
Isaac, I don't care if you don't post pictures, but your love of the bitchy content-free one-liner is pretty obnoxious.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 04:11:28 PM
I'd say there are several different styles here: patterns of birds in flight with low color saturation (the cranes), patterns of birds in flight with high color saturation (the hummingbirds), black and white images focused on graphic qualities (the dandelion), and color 'effervescense' (the car).  A diversity of subjects as well: animals in a wild environment (the cranes in flight), nature (the dandelion), man made objects (the car) , and animals in a man made environment (the hummingbirds next to the feeder).  Each image is interesting and aesthetic in its own right but if they were not posted in the same thread I could not say they were taken by the same photographer because each has a different focus and style.  My impression is you are exploring the possibilities offered by photography rather than focus on a specific direction (?).

It's so hard to see that beautiful forest, what with all these ugly trees in the way...

Choice of subjects can be stylistic, but a variety of subjects is also stylistic.  You've walked right over all of the common characteristics of those images, and missed the significance of that commonality.  He likes dramatic, eye catching subjects.  He looks for drama in natural abstractions as well as man made; with the use of high contrast and high saturation.  Plus one interesting thing about that set of images is the point of view is level, not looking up or down at the subjects.  They also all appeal to the attraction humans have to their surroundings, yet almost totally avoid any other relationship between humans and their surroundings (basically they are exactly the opposite of Street Photography).  They tend to be "straight photography", as opposed to any tendancy towards pictorial photography.  And note the very similar "background" characteristics in each!  That's a very subtle sense of what "bokeh" is all about!

Your "impression" is confused!  Exploring the "possibilities" of photography is absolutely a "direction" in itself, even though that is also a necessary part of virtually any "direction".

The fact is that style is very evident in that very small sample of  his work!

Just for grins and giggles, let me point out that his work is relatively closer to the style of Edward Weston than to the very different style of Ansel Adams.  One distinct character of his style is not the same as either though!  That level point of view as opposed to Weston who  has his viewers looking down most of the time and Adams who has use look upward most of the time.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 04:18:26 PM
Again, Floyd, let me suggest checking out the "daletorhn" saga.

So that I can waste a lot of time looking up something that you can't even describe or provide anything specific that would make it worth my time?

If you can't provide a logical reason, I have no need to follow any demand of yours.  Given how much you like wasting people's time with distractions I have very good reasons not to...  scratching remote parts of my anatomy would clearly be more productive.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 30, 2013, 04:45:49 PM
Isaac, I don't care if you don't post pictures, but your love of the bitchy content-free one-liner is pretty obnoxious.

Please point to something specific.

And, do you also find RSL's love of the petty-bullying content-free one-liners (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=82268.msg667171#msg667171) pretty obnoxious?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on September 30, 2013, 04:55:37 PM
Quote
Cartier-Bresson: "My photographs are variations on the same theme: Man and his destiny. No one is infinitely versatile: each of us carries within himself a paticular vision of the universe. It is this view which makes for the unity in our work and ultimately, its style."

1961 Henri Cartier-Bresson: on the art of photography (http://harpers.org/archive/1961/11/henri-cartier-bresson-on-the-art-of-photography/) an interview by Yvonne Baby, translated by Elizabeth Carmichael.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 05:43:08 PM
Thousands of words, and nobody has even bothered a working definition of "style". How odd.

Actually I sort of beat that subject into the ground starting at about article #61 in this thread.  And incidentally what I said was that these personal definitions are worthless because the effect is we are all talking about different things unless you use standard definitions.

Quote
Try this on: A style is a set of photographic made all the same way for 2 or more photographs.

That's pretty good, and very close.  But isn't it 1) wrong, and 2) not standard?  Oooopps.

Here's what Merriam-Webster says is a valid definition:

   ": a particular way in which something is done, created, or performed
    : a particular form or design of something"

There are lots of other dictionaries, and many have slight variations in the way they describe it, but they all say the same thing.  There is no need for a "set" in style, and 2 or more is not necessary.  They also do not need to be "made all the same way". 

That said, your discussion is of course on target and very interesting.  Until you got to Weston and Adams... :-)

Quote
You might choose a class a subject, an approach to printing, a compositional element. A style might be "landscapes, printed in b&w, with great depth of field and high local contrast" it might be "soft focus, color". A style needn't be visible at all, it might be "contains a square element someplace" but that would be an ineffective style. An EFFECTIVE style makes sufficient choices the same way to connect the set of pictures together visually, but leaves enough un-specified to permit variety and interest between the individual pictures in the set.

Style needs not be "effective" to exist as a style.  Any given style might be effective at this and not at that, as an example.  The "contains" bit is a really good example of how seemingly insignificant items can be part of a style.  For example I personally very much prefer "people pictures' where the subject has one eye that is for some reason much more distinctive than the other.  To enhance that distinction I might blur one eye and sharpen the  other.  What that is "effective" at is making me happy with the picture! :-)

But I agree with the fact that a style that connects a variety of images is signficant.  I personally tend to judge other photographers not on whether I like their photographs more or less, but on how able they are to impart a distinctive style into the majority of their work.  Edward Weston and Ansel Adams are two very good examples!

Quote
With this in mind, let us examine Weston and Adams:

I'll comment on that in a different article.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 30, 2013, 05:52:11 PM
Hi Andrew, I question whether or not choice of subject matter constitutes a style. I know that's what several others on this thread have wanted to suggest, but they've been hesitant for some pretty obvious reasons. How would you apply that definition to painters like Van Gogh and Gauguin? Both applied their art to a wide range of subjects, but their styles always shone through.

But yes, nobody in this thread has bothered to define what "style" means with respect to photography, which is why early on I got zapped by jjj and a couple others for suggesting there's a semantic problem here. I question whether or not anybody can come up with a workable definition of what "style" means with respect to photographers. For painters who actually have a recognizable style it's easy because their personalities flow through their hands and brushes to the brushstrokes and color subtleties on the canvas. But a photographer has a camera that always gets in the way of an identifiable style.

Yes, Weston and Adams tended to concentrate on different subjects, but, if consistent selection of a single subject is what defines a style, then Jean Albus, who seems to photograph nothing but deteriorating clothing, is one of the few who could be said to have developed a recognizable style. Adams couldn't, because he had a tendency to deviate from rocks and trees and shoot pictures of Georgia O'Keefe, Orville Cox, and that woman behind the screen door, and Weston couldn't, because he tended to deviate from nude pictures of Tina and shoot cars and rocks and trees.

Yes, I agree that Adams died a pictorialist, but he also was a wonderful technician and teacher.

I have to add that the photographer who comes closest to having what I'd call a photographic "style" is Elliott Erwitt, mainly because Elliott's sense of humor shines through the vast majority of his work. His personality is there in most of his pictures.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on September 30, 2013, 05:58:22 PM
I think I said that a style need not be effective to be a style, didn't I? I intended that, anyways.

The dictionary definitions of "style" are all clearly talking about something more general than artistic style, or photographic style, so I'm not that interested in them. What matters is not global standardization of the word, but that I at least make clear what *I* mean when I use the word and, ideally, that more than one of us should agree on what the word means for the purposes of discussion. "style" is really a technical term, for our purposes.

Feel free to propose your own definitions! Or, if you really must, you can fall back on the dictionary. It don't think those definitions are going to serve us well, though.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on September 30, 2013, 06:04:28 PM
The point about my definition of "style" is not that it fits with how you personally feel about the word, the point is that my definition creates a useful word ;)

It's not all about subject. That's just one of the infinitely many axes you can select.

When you take a picture, and fool with it, and finally make a print, you're making a LOT of choices along the way. What to shoot, when to shoot, shutter speed and a million technical choices, what kind of exposure you want, what paper you select, anything. The point of my definition of "style" is that you pre-make a bunch of these choices. If you pre-make enough of those choices, your pictures tend to "look the same" in some ways, whether it be rotting dresses, or that you print warm, or whatever. The more of the choices you make in advance, the more that set of pictures will tend to look the same, and feel unified.

This is definitely a thing, right? When you shoot a portfolio, you make a bunch of choices, and you stick with 'em, mostly. That's what the portfolio is. When you shoot you whateveritwhatsis photos, you make a bunch of choices the same way, so those pictures tend to be a coherent set. Maybe not portfolio-coherent, but similar. It's a thing, it deserves a name. We have this word "style" lying around that doesn't seem to mean anything, why not use that?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 30, 2013, 06:05:05 PM
That is one reason I will almost never post images here...

Really? Then why are you here?

Quote
Other than just the pleasure of looking at pictures you like, they provide next to nothing of value for technical discussions.  Instead they provide fodder for fools who want to distract from anything useful.  You know, the kind of guys that make note of spelling variations in other's articles!

If you want technical discussions go on over the Nikonians, or the Canon version of the same thing. You can learn all about defective ten-pin connectors and other hot technical subjects.

Spelling "variations?"
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 06:08:02 PM
Quote
With this in mind, let us examine Weston and Adams:

As f/64 guys their styles overlap a lot, they differ almost entirely in the area of subject matter and composition.

Boy, that nails it!  Weston was 14 years old when Adams was born in 1902, so their environment was essentially a similar time period, but Weston was 14 years more mature at any given point in their shared history. And until the very end of his career he was always better known than Adams.  Specifically it is worth noting that both became at least somewhat accomlished in the style of Pictorialism that prevailed at the time they learned photography as teenagers.  Weston in fact made a name for himself and achieved some level of recognition with that style.

Both absolutely abandoned Pictorialism at some point after they first met in 1927 and together were among the founders of Group F/64 which was directly opposed to Pictorialism in favor of extremely high detail images.

It's interesting to compare their path to that of Pablo Picasso!  They wanted to distance themselves from painters. Picasso in early life worked very hard to use traditional styles of painting to produce as much detail as possible, but virtually abandoned that style in about 1910, roughly two decades before Weston and Adams stopped trying to copy the look of those paintings.  Group F/64 proceeded to go where a painter never could with fine detail.  Picasso changed from poorly copying the detail of nature with paint to very sharply capturing the signficance of nature with symbols.  They exited the same house of traditon, but left though opposite doors!

Quote
Weston: modernist, semi-abstract, lots of , occasional human figures or parts of same.

Weston did a great deal of human figure work, and of course much of what he did that was not of a human was rather clearly intended to relate to human sentuality.

Quote
Adams: traditionalist, pictorial, easily identifiable natural subjects, almost never human figures, almost always objects of nature.

Adams was hardly a traditonalist.  He didn't follow tradition, he invented it.  He simply didn't do "pictorial" after the early 1930's.  Adams didn't do "human figures" as such, and certainly not sensually... but he did much commercial photography that was "people picture" oriented.  It's just  hard to find because he was never famous for it.  He did landscapes for fun, and people to put food on the table (at least until the early 1940's when his work began to sell for higher prices and in quantities).

Quote
Of course within each of their bodies of work there are individual periods and portfolios that refine the over-arching styles into a portfolio specific style. In Weston's case the styles sometimes included "sensual object with curves and arabesques placed centrally in the frame on a black background."

Weston's work was pretty much 100% about sex, and Adams died a pictorialist.

Actually not true in either instance.  Weston's work was mostly sensual and only sometimes about sex.  Adams simply didn't do "pictorialist" after about 1932 when Group F/64 was formed. Adams virtually never did anything sexual (as far as I know).

Ansel Adams was not signifiantly influenced to change by his relationship with his one and only wife.  Weston was greatly influenced by each of  several women.  He wasn't quite as dramatic about it as Pablo Picasso, but it was very distinct.

A very simple exercise in the distnction between Weston and Adams is to look at the perspective a viewer has of the subject in their images.  Weston has you looking down, Adams has you looking up.  Otherwise, weston looked for abstractions in what was ordinary, and Adams was literal and sought out the already majestic to photograph it.

But...  Ansel Adams' photography, like everyone elses, has interesting quirks.  He donated more than 200 images to the Library of Congress from his 1943 work at the Manzanar Relocation Camp in California.  A quick count shows that he took 4 times more pictures of one particular nurse than he did of the next most photographed person in the camp.  He also made references to having kept track of her whereabouts after she left Manzanar.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 30, 2013, 06:13:58 PM
Hello again, Andrew. Yes, I'll concede most of the points you made, but I'd still say that given a stash of unfamiliar pictures by various famous photographers, you'd be unlikely to identify the photographers from the pictures. On the other hand, you'd probably be able to pick out a Van Gogh or a Gauguin from a room full of unfamiliar paintings. But, of course, it all comes back to a definition of "style." If your definition is loose enough, it won't matter whether or not you can distinguish between photographers; you'll still be able to say that Adams has a "style." To me, unless there's something about an artist's work that makes it almost always identifiable as his, there's no "style" there.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on September 30, 2013, 06:16:17 PM
Adams is an interesting case. He officially abandoned pictorialism, I guess, but in reality he seems to simply have abandoned the techniques that were in vogue among pictorialists at the time. Gum bichromate, muddy, dark, scratched negatives, etc.

In terms of pictorialism, though, we was absolutely a pictorialist. First and foremost, his pictures (his famous ones, anyways) look like paintings. They look like JMW Turner in b&w. They're mawkishly sentimental, swapping the Victorian death fetish for a more modern but no less sentimental nature worship. He manipulated negatives wildly, albeit in specific ways and not in OTHER specific ways. The pictures are awash in "repose" and "breadth". They're calming, balanced, sublime, etc etc. Everything a 19th century painter strove for.

In terms of the origins of pictorialism, in terms of HPR's descriptions of what Pictorial Effect in the latter half of the 19th century, there is arguably nobody who more completely embodies the ideal of pictorialism than Adams.

Weston.. was not. At all.

Call it what you will, but these two artists made definite choices in there work, and tended to make them the same way over and over, and the result of making those choices over and over the same way it two bodies of work which are very visually coherent, and which look nothing like one another. I call it "style" you may call  it anything you like, you may call it "badgers" or leave it un-named if you like.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on September 30, 2013, 06:19:03 PM
Excellent point, RSL! I think it is true of photography that style is EITHER meaningless when applied to photography OR is not a strong enough tool to identify the artist.

Making convincing photographs "in the style of" is simply far too easy.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 06:45:56 PM
I think I said that a style need not be effective to be a style, didn't I? I intended that, anyways.

You did indeed, and I was not clear enough with my comment.  It wasn't whether it has to be effective as a style, but what the effect is from a style that I was objecting to.

You said, "An EFFECTIVE style makes sufficient choices the same way to connect the set of pictures together visually, but leaves enough un-specified to permit variety and interest between the individual pictures in the set."

Connecting pictures visually is an irrelevant side effect of a well developed style, but is not a valid measure of the effectiveness of a style.  An effective style invokes an emotional response in the viewer.  Effectiveness is a measure of the quality of communications as the viewer looks at symbols in the image.  If the symbols are well formed the viewer will be affected in the way the photographer intended.

Your discussion arrises due to the basic errors in your definition.

Quote
The dictionary definitions of "style" are all clearly talking about something more general than artistic style, or photographic style, so I'm not that interested in them. What matters is not global standardization of the word, but that I at least make clear what *I* mean when I use the word and, ideally, that more than one of us should agree on what the word means for the purposes of discussion. "style" is really a technical term, for our purposes.

So you have to define style every time you use it.  And perhaps end up like RSL and use different definitions at different times, none of which are what anyone else would normally expect the word to mean!

But lets look at the root of this, because the entire purpose of discussion is to communicate information.  That happens to be exactly what photography is too!  Hmmmmm...  same with other arts!  It turns out the dictionary definitions of style are all precisely talking about artistic style and apply absolutely to photography.

It's a bit of a tangent, but reading some of Rudolf Arnheim's works might be interesting. He was a "perceptual phsychologist" who wrote ground breaking texts such as "Art and Visual Perception".  He also published many shorter essays, and "Entropy and Art" is one that is very good and available online.  Enropy and Art (http://  www.kenb.ca/z-aakkozzll/pdf/arnheim.pdf)

Back on track though,  the use of standard definitions is required if we are going to have useful discussions.  When everyone reads music from the same sheet the concert has value, and otherwise it is not much more than random noise.

Quote
Feel free to propose your own definitions! Or, if you really must, you can fall back on the dictionary. It don't think those definitions are going to serve us well, though.

The only definitions that allow communications are standard ones.  If you want to put "style" in quotes every time you use it, and maybe then have to subscript each to denote which definition you've used, you 1) can't compare it with any other analysis of style, 2) can't possibly write with a concise effective style, and 3) are going to be misunderstood more often than not.

The point of discussion is communications.  That is exactly the same as photography.  Effective style is what helps the audience understand the message communicated.  Personal definitions are ineffective style.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 30, 2013, 06:47:39 PM
Fair enough, Andrew. I certainly agree with you that Adams abandoned some of the techniques of pictorialism but never abandoned pictorialism. As to the rest, we can agree, with a handshake, to disagree. Frankly, I don't think we're far apart.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 06:49:26 PM
In terms of pictorialism, though, we was absolutely a pictorialist.

Wow.  Maybe you should take a little time to research what "pictorialism style" means to everyone else.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on September 30, 2013, 07:10:37 PM
Floyd, we're gonna have to agree to disagree.

Nobody can have a conversation about any complex subject matter if they have to stick to standard english. Engineering cannot occur without technical terms, just as a for instance. If you're going to insist on dictionary definitions of "style" then you're never going to be able to talk about artistic style. Which is fine with me.

There's still a thing I have described, which I call "style", which does not have and which deserves a name.

As for what pictorialism means to everyone else, I absolutely don't care about that. Insofar as pictorialism means anything to "everyone else" it means muddy gum bichromate prints, which is manifestly silly, and historically completely inaccurate. If everyone was wrong about Bauhaus, or Impressionism, it wouldn't change what Bauhaus was, nor Impressionism, and it wouldn't make everyone right. Unlike much of language, proper nouns aren't subject to popular vote.

I've actually read Robinson's work, and Adams embodies it *perfectly*, much better than Robinson ever did.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on September 30, 2013, 07:13:35 PM
I concur, Russ. We're usually on the same page, but almost never on the same line of it ;) Somehow, we manage to be civil about it.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on September 30, 2013, 07:14:38 PM
We always have, and I suspect we always will.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on September 30, 2013, 07:43:10 PM
I've actually read Robinson's work, and Adams embodies it *perfectly*, much better than Robinson ever did.

Have you read Lewis Carrol?  He did a rant about this...

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."

I'm interested in communicating, not being the master.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 01, 2013, 06:59:10 AM
Sometimes you have to be the master, when standard english won't do. You know, whenever you're talking about something pretty specific in a pretty specific area of study. That's what technical terms are. Good ones are refinements and clarifications of the standard meanings, which is why mine is a refinement and clarification of the standard meaning for the purposes of discussions about art in general and photography in particular.

If you're worried about me changing it as I go, well, I've stuck to it for a couple years now, so I think maybe I'm ok on that front.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 01, 2013, 07:12:22 AM
Sometimes you have to be the master, when standard english won't do. You know, whenever you're talking about something pretty specific in a pretty specific area of study. That's what technical terms are. Good ones are refinements and clarifications of the standard meanings, which is why mine is a refinement and clarification of the standard meaning for the purposes of discussions about art in general and photography in particular.

If you're worried about me changing it as I go, well, I've stuck to it for a couple years now, so I think maybe I'm ok on that front.


You're missing the point entirely.

If you'll use google and find two or three dictionaries and actually read what they say, you'll learn that the standard definitions of the word "style" very clearly do apply to art and to photography.  This claim that they don't is ignorant.

Also, learn what "term of art" means.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 01, 2013, 07:41:35 AM
And now you're just being nasty, so I am going to ignore you henceforth.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 01, 2013, 07:46:45 AM
As for personal style, there are certainly choices we start to make the same way over and over.

There are subjects we like, there are shortcuts we take, there are approaches to rendering that we use over and over. One might have more than one identifiable "personal style" or one might have none, depending on how deeply those ruts are worn.

The idea that the "personal style" somehow reveals the artist, however, is quite silly. Without knowing why the artist makes those choices, we know really nothing about the artist other than "the artist chose to make this". Was it for commercial reasons? Personal? Because a spouse likes it better that way? Because the sink in the darkroom is too small? Issues of style can inform biographical study, coupled to other material we might know something of the artist, to be sure.

Simply standing in front of a work of art will tell is, in reality, nothing about the artist. If the work strikes us as revealing the artist, this can be a powerful effect. It's false, but so what? Much of art is false. Just don't be fooled into thinking that you "know" the artist from the work, just enjoy the sensation.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on October 01, 2013, 07:59:12 AM
And now you're just being nasty, so I am going to ignore you henceforth.
Good idea. That's what I decided too, several posts back.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 01, 2013, 09:12:14 AM
To address the original poster's remarks, if we take "style" in the making of art as being distilled into making a set of choices up front, the same way every time, then we can see that style need not be an end to a journey.

If we make almost no choices up front, if the "style" is simply "I like small canvases" then the road is long before us, almost anything is possible. The style is probably not recognizable as such, though.

If we make too many choices up front, so that every picture tends to look like every other picture, the road is very short. There is no wiggle room, the journey may indeed be said to be over.

Suppose we strike a good balance: I like small canvases, I mix my colors thus and not thus, I tend to like botanical subjects. Then we have a perhaps recognizable style, we have limited ourselves to an extent, and made the job easier. There is still a lot of wiggle room, there are still vastly many pictures we can paint. The style becomes a framework in which we work, rather than a cage in which we are constrained.

I view it a bit like working in sonnet form, for example. There are infinitely many sonnets that can be written, on infinitely many themes, but the form remains. The form saves us a lot of work by defining how big the poem is, which in turn defines a bunch of stuff. We needn't worry about how long to make the lines or how the rhymes should work, this is all sorted out for us. The sonnet form conversely creates a lot of work, because now our idea must be made to fit the form. Similarly with art and style -- be it personal style, or Vermeer's style or Turner's or Weston's. It limits, it grounds, it provides a firm basis on which to proceed, and it creates problems we must solve, all at once.

By employing a poetic form, or an artistic style, we connect each piece we make with other pieces made perhaps by others, perhaps by ourselves. This has, one supposes, some sort of value.

All that said, yes, too restrictive a set of choices can spell the end of a journey, and all the results pretty much come out the same. That would certainly be an undesireable outcome. Except, perhaps, for commercial artists, eh?

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: wmchauncey on October 01, 2013, 09:41:32 AM
Could we equate "having owns style" as "being in a rut" are they not synonymous?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 01, 2013, 09:47:00 AM
Well, you may choose whatever definitions you like, really, but I don't think they're equivalent. I certainly don't think an artist need reinvent himself for every picture, and indeed I think that would be immensely damaging to the work.

Photography, especially, needs the support of a coherent portfolio to really be successful in this day and age, and art has always benefitted from the effects of portfolio. And what is a portfolio, if not a collection of stylistically connected pieces?

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 01, 2013, 12:53:07 PM
Could we equate "having owns style" as "being in a rut" are they not synonymous?

You could be in a rut skipping from style to style. These are independent notions.

(Alain Briot would caution us that "Personal discovery is not personal style" (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/columns/aesthetics9.shtml), in his LuLa column How to Establish a Personal Photographic Style, Part Nine of Ten.)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 01, 2013, 02:34:27 PM
I don't agree with everything Briot wrote, but I find it fascinating that he's pretty sure a "personal style" is a set of choices you make in advance.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 01, 2013, 03:22:13 PM
Part of the sentence seems to be missing -- "in advance" of what? -- and what in the column gives you that impression?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 01, 2013, 03:28:12 PM
In advance of making art in that style. Of course, you're making art as you go along, but at any given point the style is a set of choices that were in place when making the art.

Absent, of course, time travel.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 01, 2013, 03:30:20 PM
As an aside, does anyone know who the heck "Moriarty" is as cited in Briot's piece?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 01, 2013, 06:12:24 PM
Could we equate "having owns style" as "being in a rut" are they not synonymous?

Having one's own style is not a rut at all.  It's knowing what you want and how to produce it.

For exampe, one photographer might want to avoid harsh bokeh in portraits (and might rather like it for inanimate objects).  So knowning that, the photographer might have an extensive "bag of tricks"  used when appropriate to avoid anything that produces harsh bokeh.  That's competent photography at work.  This photographer will almost never produce a portrait with harsh bokeh, and it will be a very noticable characteristic of the photographer's style.

Another photographer might also like the same basic look for portraits, but might not yet have developed many techniques that provide the desired result over a wide range of circumstances.  This photographer will have a lower keeper rate and it is also true that at the time production images are selected there will  be otherwise rather nice portaits that do exhibit harsh bokeh.  There might be a some tendancy towards no harsh bokeh, but it might not be strong enough to make that a character of this photographer's style.

Of course as time goes by and the second photographer learns more techniques that style will become more distinctive, and eventually the second photographer might also have that as an obvious personal style.

Knowing how to get exactly what you want isn't a rut, it's an exhibition of competence.  And there is no reason that a competent photographer would never decide to change.  One might make great efforts to avoid portraits with harsh bokeh for 20 years, and then pull of a Picasso style change!  New partner with different attributes... change the style to take advantage of the model!  Maybe a new partner looks best with harsh bokeh...  a competent photographer would change style over night.

A rut is when you do the same thing even if it doesn't produce the results you want.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: petermfiore on October 01, 2013, 11:30:42 PM
You Are confusing style with manner.

Peter
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 02, 2013, 02:10:50 AM
You Are confusing style with manor.

I assume you meant "manner", and that is a synonym for "style"  It's not confusing one as the other, they are the same thing.  (The word "manor" means an estate, and there is no connection.)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 02, 2013, 02:35:16 AM
You Are confusing style with manner.

Please lessen the confusion by saying what you understand the difference to be.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Manoli on October 02, 2013, 04:12:50 AM
A rut is when you do the same thing even if it doesn't produce the results you want.

A rut is simply a routine, usually dull and unproductive, not 'per se' with a negative outcome.
Repetitive behaviour  'that doesn't produce the results you want'   is, often, one of the first signs of mental instability. Different.

Unless, of course, you're referring to the annual sexual activity in deer …

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Manoli on October 02, 2013, 04:26:20 AM
When everyone reads music from the same sheet the concert has value, and otherwise it is not much more than random noise.

Not necessarily. Didn't some of the great Jazz artists become renowned because of their talent for ad-libbing ?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Manoli on October 02, 2013, 04:37:45 AM
In the world where I live the purpose of being an elder is to provide guidance and assistance to those with less experience.

And hence your presence on LuLa ?
You've been a member for 7 days -  50 posts, an average greater than 7 posts a day, more than 14,000 words (over 40 A4 pages) - is that a record ?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 02, 2013, 06:26:46 AM
He's here to educate the savages and, as so often happens with colonialists, he's humiliated and angry that the savages are both smarter than he thought they were, and astonishingly resistant to having his ideas shoved down their throats.

Luckily, he's unarmed, or we'd be in some serious trouble.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Sareesh Sudhakaran on October 02, 2013, 07:19:11 AM
I have a question:

If an artist chooses a medium to communicate his or her messages, and through years of persistence and practice succeeds (via recognition?), then one might confidently say the artist is a master of that medium. Tomorrow, if the artist has a new message, he or she can use that mastery+medium to communicate it to us.

If this is the case, how can anyone accept a literary definition of art from the artist, or even a commentary of it for that matter, simply because language isn't the medium the artist chose? E.g., Picasso could communicate with paintings, but why should we assume Picasso could communicate the meaning of art with words? If he could do it just as effectively, he would have become a writer or poet. After all, artists are not writers or poets or linguists or epistemologists or historians, etc.

Similarly, how can a dictionary definition of art or style have any practical value to an artist, just as the dictionary meaning of the word 'love' can have any practical significance to lovers?

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on October 02, 2013, 07:49:45 AM
Hi Sareesh, You've put your finger on the problem with college professors, actors, and celebrities in general who, being proficient in some narrow field, experience a swelling of the ego that convinces them they're proficient in every field. We hear a lot from them, especially in the field of politics. I suspect some of them lurk on LuLa.

As far as I can see, "style" has absolutely nothing to do with the effectiveness of art; it's merely the personality of the artist showing through his work. Bad painters can have a "style" just as good painters can have a "style." And though a photographer's work may be very effective, when a camera is in the way, "style" goes out the window,
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 02, 2013, 08:51:18 AM
Sareesh, I think you're mixing up talking about a thing with the thing itself.

Certainly I can talk about what ingredients produce which colors of paint, and what sorts of canvas will have what sorts of effects on the look of a brushstroke, right? That's actually science, not art. Or possibly some kind of engineering.

Talking about "style" is really not the same as doing art, for sure. It's really criticism, in the same way that talking about pigments is science.

In the same way that a scientific understanding of pigments may -- or may not -- be of interest or assistance to a painter, a critical understanding of style may -- or may not. Some artists will find it useful, certainly. They'll want to formulate an idea of what "style" is, what's important about it, and how they use that idea in their work. Others may work in a much less analytical way. There is no right way, here, but there are multiple paths.

Criticism is a thing unto itself, and is as much for people who want to understand art as it is for the artist, probably moreso.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 02, 2013, 01:31:29 PM
I don't agree with everything Briot wrote, but I find it fascinating that he's pretty sure a "personal style" is a set of choices you make in advance.

In advance of making art in that style. Of course, you're making art as you go along, but at any given point the style is a set of choices that were in place when making the art.

Absent, of course, time travel.


Alain Briot was recommending time travel :-)

He recommended that we go back and identify the choices we've made, understand them, and carry that refined understanding forward as we do new work.


Do, Check, Adjust, Plan ... Do, Check, Adjust, Plan ...
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on October 02, 2013, 04:04:03 PM
Alain takes himself far too seriously.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 02, 2013, 04:08:46 PM
If this is the case, how can anyone accept a literary definition of art from the artist, or even a commentary of it for that matter, simply because language isn't the medium the artist chose?

That is why people using their own personal definitions of the term "style" don't produce meaningful discussion.  Leave it to language experts (the ones who write dictionaries) to determine what words mean.  Leave it to artists to decide what art means.

The "commentary" from an artist has value if it is about how style affects art, but not if it is about what the term "style" means.

Quote
E.g., Picasso could communicate with paintings, but why should we assume Picasso could communicate the meaning of art with words? If he could do it just as effectively, he would have become a writer or poet. After all, artists are not writers or poets or linguists or epistemologists or historians, etc.

Picasso created visual art, and clearly qualifies as an authority on that subject.  He did not create language art.  He wasn't particularly good at either writing or talking, in terms of making art with language.  

Hence his discussion of visual art is authoritative and correct, though it may not be extremely effective communications.

If we find something by Picasso about how to talk or write about art, it would not be authoritative and may not even be correct.

Quote
Similarly, how can a dictionary definition of art or style have any practical value to an artist, just as the dictionary meaning of the word 'love' can have any practical significance to lovers?

Knowing dictionary definitions of style has no value in the production process of art.  But knowing a dictionary definition is an absolute requirement for a language based discussion of style (or for that matter of art).

Discussion that lacks knowledge of the subject might be entertaining, might make good comedy, and can even be good art!  But it isn't an authoritative source of technical detail that teaches about the subject.  If you don't know what "style" is (in essence how it is defined) then you cannot teach anyone else it's value or lack of.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 02, 2013, 04:21:55 PM
Alain takes himself far too seriously.

I agree with that analysis.  He takes his anecdotal experiences of single specific events and generalizes them far beyond what is valid.  Sometimes the point he wants to make is valid, but the generalization goes so far that he does more than make his valid point, and the unnecesary part isn't valid.

Given that he does have the background, both in theory and practice, I would have expected that he could have written a much better piece than that.  But I would suggest this is exactly the problem that Sareesh Sudhakaran brought up, because Alain Briot is an authority on visual arts, but perhaps not so good a language arts.   He just doesn't write all that well...

Note that I did not read the other articles in his series, so this one article might be the exception, or it might be typical.  I don't know.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 02, 2013, 06:40:32 PM
Alain takes himself far too seriously.

That remark seems to be:
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 02, 2013, 07:13:24 PM
... these two artists made definite choices in there work, and tended to make them the same way over and over, and the result of making those choices over and over the same way it two bodies of work which are very visually coherent, and which look nothing like one another. I call it "style" you may call  it anything you like, ...


"What Adams' pictures show us is different from what we see in any landscape photographer before him. They are concerned, it seems to me, not with the description of objects -- the rocks, trees and water that are the nominal parts of his pictures -- but with the description of the light that they modulate, the light that justifies their relationship to each other. ... The landscape in Weston's pictures is seen as sculpture: round, weighty, and fleshily sensuous. In comparison, Adams' pictures seem as dematerialized as the reflections on still water, or the shadows cast on morning mist: disembodied images concerned not with the corpus of things but with their transient aspect." page viii John Szarkowski

"My seven portfolios reveal a rather persistent style, through photographs made from 1932 to 1976. I have worked in much the same approach and with the same general techniques for forty-five years. The subjects I have photographed are far more varied than one would expect from most exhibited and published material; the later portfolios especially reveal some fresh facets. However, I have felt no reason for drastic change, and I have always believed it questionable for artists to arbitrarily change their styles -- simply to be different or in step with concurrent movements and trends of creative thought." page v Ansel Adams

"The Portfolios of Ansel Adams" (http://books.google.com/books?id=V7diHAAACAAJ&dq=%22The+Portfolios+of+Ansel+Adams%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5qdMUtHmBuH0iwLMvIGIBg&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA)


Adams is an interesting case. He officially abandoned pictorialism, I guess, but in reality he seems to simply have abandoned the techniques that were in vogue among pictorialists at the time.

"My first selection of photographs was ... privately published in 1927. ... While made with care and devotion, it was more representational in approach than my later productions and reflected a style of work less realized in character and emphasis than my photography after 1930 -- the year I saw Paul Strand's negatives in Taos, an experience which profoundly influenced my concept of photography." page v Ansel Adams
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on October 02, 2013, 08:13:27 PM
That remark seems to be:
  • a personal insult, to belittle Alain Briot, or
  • a personal insult, to belittle Alain Briot and thereby dismiss all of the "How to Establish a Personal Photographic Style" (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/columns/aesthetics9.shtml) LuLa column he wrote. (So another Ad Hominem fallacy.)

Time to get out there with a camera, Isaac. We'll be looking for the results.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 02, 2013, 08:28:20 PM
There's nothing interesting about your quarreling.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on October 02, 2013, 09:23:48 PM
Lighten up, Isaac. The world's a fun place, especially when you have a camera in your hands.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 02, 2013, 11:03:01 PM

[...]page viii John Szarkowski[...]

[...]page v Ansel Adams[...]


An excellent post.  Citing authoritative sources to counter ill thought out opinions keeps things on track here.  Or at least it should.

The fact is, Ansel Adams did nothing in the Pictorial Style after about 1932.  That's not an opinion, it's a fact.  The opinion that he did is based on a poorly understood conceptualization of what "Pictorial" means.  It does not mean simply that it looks like a painted picture.  And this again is a problem caused by the use of personal definitions.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 03, 2013, 06:43:09 AM
Isaac, I find your quotations peculiar. Do you intend them simply as additional commentary? They seem to bear no particular relation to the text of mine you quote with them. Well, that's not quite right. They're talking about style. Szarkowski seems to be treating style as subject matter together with the way it is conceived, which is an approach I can get behind, although I think it's somewhat narrow.

It's good stuff, although I tend to discount an artist's commentary on his own work a few points, for well-understood reasons, it just seems a bit tangential.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 03, 2013, 06:51:23 AM
An excellent post.  Citing authoritative sources to counter ill thought out opinions keeps things on track here.  Or at least it should.
So what makes these sources authoritative then? Rather than ill thought out opinions?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 03, 2013, 07:11:59 AM
So what makes these sources authoritative then? Rather than ill thought out opinions?


Adams on what Adams was doing is authoritative, eh?  That may or may not be true of every photographer, but Adams is widely recognized not just as America's most significant photographer of the 20th century, but also as an extremely able teacher who wrote many books and was accomplished at a wide variety of instructional methods.  He is probably one of the most authoritative voices on any topic about photography, but is certainly the most authoritative about his own photography.

John  Szarkowski discussing anything to do with photographic style is authoritative, eh?  He was the Director of Photography at the NY Museum of Modern Art for three decades and is widely recognized as the most influential curator, critic, and historian of photography.  That spells "authoritative" in bold letters.

Of course, I'm sure you already knew those details, so I'm amused that you would ask a rhetorical question as if it did not have the obvious answer.

Citing those two as authoritive sources certainly trumps individuals who say that they can't even discuss photographic style using standard English, and like Humpty Dumpty from Lewis Carrol's "Alice In Wonderland" believe they can make any word mean exactly what they want it to mean, thus becoming the master even if it relegates what they say to the vast pile of meaningless words that do not communicate useful meaning or add to a discussion.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 03, 2013, 10:39:34 AM
Adams on what Adams was doing is authoritative, eh?  That may or may not be true of every photographer, but Adams is widely recognized not just as America's most significant photographer of the 20th century, but also as an extremely able teacher who wrote many books and was accomplished at a wide variety of instructional methods.  He is probably one of the most authoritative voices on any topic about photography, but is certainly the most authoritative about his own photography.

John  Szarkowski discussing anything to do with photographic style is authoritative, eh?  He was the Director of Photography at the NY Museum of Modern Art for three decades and is widely recognized as the most influential curator, critic, and historian of photography.  That spells "authoritative" in bold letters.

Of course, I'm sure you already knew those details, so I'm amused that you would ask a rhetorical question as if it did not have the obvious answer.
Not actually rhetorical, because earlier you argued that context of author was not important, only their views were.

If he [i.e. Isaac] does or does not provide examples of his photography it will not change the validity of his comments on style.
Now Adams only had authority because of his photography. If he had never showed anyone any photos then he would just be another 'ill thought out opinion', unless of course like say Isaac you agreed with the opinion.
Szarkowski had likewise proved himself by his work in and around photography, if he had not done that work to show again he would not be seen as authoritative.

Quote
Citing those two as authoritive sources certainly trumps individuals who say that they can't even discuss photographic style using standard English, and like Humpty Dumpty from Lewis Carrol's "Alice In Wonderland" believe they can make any word mean exactly what they want it to mean, thus becoming the master even if it relegates what they say to the vast pile of meaningless words that do not communicate useful meaning or add to a discussion.
Yet when I say anonymous posters have less credibility than people who have a body of work or relevant experience to back up their points, you pooh-poohed that line of argument. Quite poorly as you took my saying that anonymous posters tend to be trolls as meaning identifiable people always make sense when posting, which is obviously not the case considering my posts regarding Russ's numerous daft ideas.
Isaac is simply an anonymous poster on a photography forum and there is no evidence that he even does photography. So he is the antithesis of being authoritative with regard to photography.
He is however very fond of preciseness in the use of English and sticking to the literal facts in an argument and interestingly your style of writing is curiously reminiscent of his posts. Albeit longer in length.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 03, 2013, 10:58:57 AM
As far as I can see, "style" has absolutely nothing to do with the effectiveness of art; it's merely the personality of the artist showing through his work. Bad painters can have a "style" just as good painters can have a "style." And though a photographer's work may be very effective, when a camera is in the way, "style" goes out the window,
Only if you have no style in first place.  :P
There are plenty of people whose photographic work is as distinctive as artist's work with canvas. Just as there are far, far more people whose efforts are not distinct enough to be picked out whether the medium is oils or photography.

This discussion reminds me of when I was at university I did the publicity shots for Sheffield University Fringe and some friends asked me if if the photos were mine as they looked like my style of photography. Now I've photographed a lot of world class Lindy Hop dancers at Herräng Dance camp as have several other photographers since I first documented the place and it's pretty easy to tell each of the photographers apart as we each have a distinct style. Which according to you is not possible as we used a camera and weren't in a studio - though I did build a studio in the woods (http://futtfuttfuttphotography.com/#id=album-42&num=content-1437) one year I was there.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 03, 2013, 11:27:26 AM
There are two troubles with photographic styles.

The first is that when an artist DOES have a distinctive style, it is usually very easy to copy, especially in this digital era.

The second is that in this digital era, with a trillion photographs and perhaps 100 million moderately serious amateurs, any style will usually be copied by the merest statistical accident.

Copying someone's approach to mixing colors, or applying paint, or whatever, is a bit technical. A competent painter can do it, generally, but becoming a competent painter takes some real effort. You can teach a motivated teenager how to make knock-off Ansel Adams landscapes quite briskly.

Creating a style in photography is effort. Mimicking one is quite simple.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 03, 2013, 11:30:30 AM
I am reasonably confident that Isaac and Floyd are not the same people. LuLa forums tend to attract somewhat bossy fellows who find themselves unable to wrap their minds around the idea that they might be in the presence of people who are as smart or smarter than they are, who have thought through some of the same issues at least as thoroughly, and who have arrived at different conclusions. These chaps are just two more, who happening to be working at about the same time.

Isaac is a bit testy and terse to the point of inscrutable, but he doesn't seem to get particularly nasty when he's backed into a corner. At any rate, I haven't ignored him.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 03, 2013, 11:41:05 AM
Not actually rhetorical, because earlier you argued that context of author was not important, only their views were.

What I previously talked about had only to do with posters to this forum, and specifically the credibility gained from posting images to this forum.  It was about non-authoritative opinions and had very little to do with what makes an authority an authority.  But even then your generalization is poor, given the example of John Szarkowski, which was discussed earlier and the fact that this discussion you are now referencing is about whether Ansel Adams is an authority on his own work!

Quote
Now Adams only had authority because of his photography. If he had never showed anyone any photos then he would just be another 'ill thought out opinion',

That is not true.  If he had never shown his photographs he would still be the most authoritative voice available on his photography.  Indeed, he would be the only authoritative voice on his photography!

But it is also true that given the variety of material that Adams produced about photography he is something of an authority on photography in general totally for reasons other than the quality of his own photography.

It isn't showing a photograph, or even dozens of them that is significant.  It's being acclaimed for those photographs!  Posting two dozen images to this forum or to a website is not in the same league as having your photograph sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars at an art auction, having them on display in ever single major art museum, etc  etc.   That context, not a context of having posted images to this forum, is significant.

Quote
unless of course like say Isaac you agreed with the opinion.
Szarkowski had likewise proved himself by his work in and around photography, if he had not done that work to show again he would not be seen as authoritative.

Szarkowski is considered authoritative due to his work at MOMA, not because of his photography.  And his photography did win enough independent acclaim to at least attract some attention, and that distances him greatly from someone merely posting their work to this forum.  Different context, and you are comparing apples with oranges.

Quote
Yet when I say anonymous posters have less credibility than people who have a body of work or relevant experience to back up their points, you pooh-poohed that line of argument.

Because you can't support that opinion with logic, and instead try to compare the credibility gained from posting an image to a forum with having an exhibition at MOMA.  That sort of argument needs to be pooh-poohed every time.

Quote
Isaac is simply an anonymous poster on a photography forum and there is no evidence that he even does photography. So he is the antithesis of being authoritative with regard to photography.

And in fact I can't recall anyone saying he is an authority.

The point is that his opinions are typically knowledgeable and demonstrate logical analysis of an issue.  When someone posts 10 articles in a row where that is obvious, the next one carries more weight!

Quote
He is however very fond of preciseness in the use of English and sticking to the literal facts in an argument and interestingly your style of writing is curiously reminiscent of his posts. Albeit longer in length.

Thank you for the kinds words.  I'm sure that Isaac also appreciates that you recognize precision presentation of factual and logical information.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 03, 2013, 11:45:17 AM
There are two troubles with photographic styles.

The first is that when an artist DOES have a distinctive style, it is usually very easy to copy, especially in this digital era.
Depends if it's a processing look, like say Dave Hill's work which everyone tries to then mimic or if the style is to do with the content/composition which is much, much harder to copy.

Quote
The second is that in this digital era, with a trillion photographs and perhaps 100 million moderately serious amateurs, any style will usually be copied by the merest statistical accident.
I was in the Tate Modern one day and saw on the wall, something almost identical to sketches/ideas in one of my notebooks. The work of art was from before I was born and I'd never had any knowledge of it. I'd also done work that looked a bit like Dave Hill's processing long before I'd ever heard of him or seen that type of work. Tended to avoid it after it then became a cliché.

Quote
Copying someone's approach to mixing colors, or applying paint, or whatever, is a bit technical. A competent painter can do it, generally, but becoming a competent painter takes some real effort. You can teach a motivated teenager how to make knock-off Ansel Adams landscapes quite briskly.
Creating a style in photography is effort. Mimicking one is quite simple.
I have to say I do hate magazine articles/blog posts who write about how to copy someone's else's work. I'd say that most of the great photographers would be less admired if they were practising today as all the knock-offs would dilute the interest in their ouvre. Nowadays as soon as something interesting is found it disseminates around the entire world very quickly and then all the copycat versions start to appear.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 03, 2013, 11:47:36 AM
I am reasonably confident that Isaac and Floyd are not the same people. LuLa forums tend to attract somewhat bossy fellows who find themselves unable to wrap their minds around the idea that they might be in the presence of people who are as smart or smarter than they are, who have thought through some of the same issues at least as thoroughly, and who have arrived at different conclusions. These chaps are just two more, who happening to be working at about the same time.

Why do you find it necessary to post gratuitous insults?  You, as does almost everyone who tries that, have describe yourself rather well...  but it is totally extraneous to any discussion that is on  topic here.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on October 03, 2013, 12:38:40 PM
There are plenty of people whose photographic work is as distinctive as artist's work with canvas.

Name one, and explain what it is about that person's work that constitutes a "style."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 03, 2013, 01:00:25 PM
I have to say I do hate magazine articles/blog posts who write about how to copy someone's else's work. I'd say that most of the great photographers would be less admired if they were practising today as all the knock-offs would dilute the interest in their ouvre. Nowadays as soon as something interesting is found it disseminates around the entire world very quickly and then all the copycat versions start to appear.

First, there seems to be a mistaken thought in this thread that having a unique personal style is what anyone and everyone means by "personal style".  Second, what is wrong with copying all or part of some specific style?  Third, style is not the same as quality.  And last but not least, not much has changed in how all of this affects art, and it has been disseminating around the world for many many decades.

Picasso, in his youth was literally taught (by his father who was an art instructor) to copy the style of the masters.  In later life he very clearly was influenced by the style of other artists.  Indeed one of his most revolutionary works was clearly inspired 1) by rivalry with his collegue Henri Matisse and was an effort to outdo Matisse's latest works, 2) copied traditional Iberian style for some of the subjects and 3) copied African style for others.  It was also so revolutionary that it was roundly derided by friends who saw it, and Picasso did not publically exhibit it for several years after it was finished.  It became know as  Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

There is no real benefit to having a unique style.  A unique level of quality, yes!
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 03, 2013, 01:15:01 PM
Name one, and explain what it is about that person's work that constitutes a "style."

Ansel Adams and Edward Weston are two that have already been discussed in detail.

Garry Winogrand and Bruce Gilden are two others.  So is Vivian Maier.  So is Cindy Sherman, and so is Andreas Gursky.

Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Alfred Eisenstaedt are three photographers whose style I have always admired very much.

I happen to like the style of a fellow by the name of Bill Hess who lives in Wasilla Alaska and has been photographing Inupiat culture here on the North Slope for a couple decades.  One of the most significant, at least from my perspective, characteristics of his work is that I repeatedly have had the experience of seeing something he did, noticing that I thought is was very good, and then realizing that it looked like his work.  Every time that happens I look for who the photographer was and discover it was indeed Bill Hess.  From my perspective the quality of his work is right up there with Lange, Even, and Eisenstaedt because he is able to impart his style into virtually everything he does.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on October 03, 2013, 01:24:03 PM
That's nice, Floyd, and I like the work of most of them though I can forego Gilden, Sherman and Gursky. But you didn't try to explain what it is about any of their work that constitutes a "style." Without that, we're nowhere. "Quality of work" doesn't constitute a style.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 03, 2013, 01:53:38 PM
I am collecting quotes for an essay I am writing up on why Adams should be considered a pictorialist. You might argue that pictorialism is a big tent that includes a bunch of smudged gum bichromate prints, but you pretty much have to allow that whatever Henry Peach Robinson said about it must also be considered pictorialism, what with him being, you know, the founder and leading practitioner and so forth. I'll share a few choice ones here, that seem particularly apropos.

Henry Peach Robinson, Pictorial Effect in Photography, this book is available free on books.google.com and is an excellent little volume. I recommend it heartily:

---

This is one of the best descriptions of Ansel Adams landscapes I've ever seen, and it was written 40ish years before he was born:

It is not open to the photographer to produce his effects by departing from the facts of nature, as has been the practice with the painter for ages; but he may use all legitimate means of presenting the story he has to tell in the most agreeable manner, and it is his imperative duty to avoid the mean, the base, and the ugly; and to aim to elevate his subject, to avoid awkward forms, and to correct the unpicturesque.

On the subject of smudgy, out of focus, blurry, messes. Arguably, the stuff that characterizes the very tail end, and what many people think of as the whole of, pictorialism.

This theory, that the details of the larger portion of the picture must be out of focus, will not bear the light of argument.

Regarding an unnamed portraitist, I think perhaps Cameron, who made some pretty blurry pictures:

[...]; it is not the mission of photography to produce smudges. [...] but photography is pre-eminently the art of definition, and when an art departs from its function it is lost.

I feel confident asserting that HPR's book essentially disavows what pictorialism became, and rather neatly describes the work Adams would do as an artist. But don't take my word for it, these quotations are certainly out of context. Read the book, if you're interested.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Sareesh Sudhakaran on October 04, 2013, 01:36:27 AM
First of all, thank you all for an excellent discussion. I wonder why many others aren't participating in it.

I'm trying to understand the importance of style. Thought I put together a few definitions:

From Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/style):
Quote
a particular way in which something is done, created, or performed

: a particular form or design of something

: a way of behaving or of doing things

From Oxford Dictionary (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/style?q=style):
Quote
1 a particular procedure by which something is done; a manner or way

2 a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed

3 [mass noun] elegance and sophistication

From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Style_(visual_arts)):
Quote

In the visual arts, style is a "...distinctive manner which permits the grouping of works into related categories."[1] or "...any distinctive, and therefore recognizable, way in which an act is performed or an artifact made or ought to be performed and made."[2] It refers to the visual appearance of a work of art that relates it to other works by the same artist or one from the same period, training, location, "school", art movement or archaeological culture: "The notion of style has long been the art historian's principal mode of classifying works of art. By style he selects and shapes the history of art".[3]

Where
[1] - Fernie, Eric. Art History and its Methods: A critical anthology. London: Phaidon, 1995, p. 361. ISBN 978-0-7148-2991-3
[2] - Gombrich, 150
[3] - George Kubler summarizing the view of Meyer Schapiro (with whom he disagrees), quoted by Alpers in Lang, 138

Curiously, the Wikipedia entry does not make a single reference to style in photography. Just saying.

Trying to distill a common meaning in terms of photography, are these terms applicable?


Now, since this thread began with the practical necessity of finding and developing one's own style, could we say that to develop one's own style, one should:

Be able to formulate one's way or manner of photography into distinctive but visually recognizable photographs, and perform this photography in a manner which only allows the same, so it can be grouped, in relation to other works, those of the artist or of others, for the purposes of classification?

Is that style in photography? Isn't it like saying - "let's see if we can find how he dunnit so we can a. repeat it, or b. judge it"? I can understand the need to copy a style, but to judge, shouldn't the work of art (in this case the photograph) be enough?

Which is the most important aspect of style - the manner of performing the art, the distinctiveness of it, or the classification of it? If someone wants to actively pursue style by being consciously aware of it while performing art, which of three should he or she pay the most attention to, and why?

I am a big fan of Salgado, and something from one of his interviews is interesting:

Quote
It is a great honor for me to be compared to Henri Cartier-Bresson...But I believe there is a very big difference in the way we put ourselves inside the stories we photograph. He always strove for the decisive moment as being the most important. I always work for a group of pictures, to tell a story. If you ask which picture in a story I like most, it is impossible for me to tell you this. I don't work for an individual picture. If I must select one individual picture for a client, it is very difficult for me. - Sebastiao Salgado - Excerpts from an interview with Sebastiao Salgado by Ken Lassiter, Photographer's Forum

It was interesting to read that because it made me realize that Salgado was actively pursuing a style while photographing. He was following the definition by taking photographs (with a distinctive style), but in a manner that allowed it to be grouped in relation to his other works, for the purposes of classification (in this case a story).

On the other hand, HCB's style was more the manner in which he hunted for compositions within a photograph, in a manner that allowed him to find the right compositions, but leaving the responsibility of classification to someone else (a collection of decisive moments according to HCB?).

Which path would someone need to take to find and develop a personal style?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 04, 2013, 06:20:19 AM
What a nice summary! Thank you.

A couple of remarks:

- while you've laid out a pretty useful notion of what a personal style might be and how to get one, I maintain that you can boil it down further. How, preceisely, does one do that thing and the answer appears, to me, to be to make a set of choices, photographic choices, and make them the same way over and over.

- the issue of "story" and "style" separate, although one may combine them if one chooses. A group of pictures may tell a story, but not shares a style, and vice versa. A shared style will bind them together visually, which may support the story-telling, but I see no reason that story demands style.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 04, 2013, 12:31:15 PM
LuLa forums tend to attract somewhat bossy fellows who find themselves unable to wrap their minds around the idea that they might be in the presence of people who are as smart or smarter than they are, who have thought through some of the same issues at least as thoroughly, and who have arrived at different conclusions.

Is that how you choose to describe yourself?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 04, 2013, 12:35:59 PM
No, while I am somewhat bossy, I am able to "wrap their minds around the idea that they might be in the presence of people who are as smart or smarter than they are, who have thought through some of the same issues at least as thoroughly, and who have arrived at different conclusions." it turns out.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 04, 2013, 12:42:06 PM
That's nice, Floyd, and I like the work of most of them though I can forego Gilden, Sherman and Gursky. But you didn't try to explain what it is about any of their work that constitutes a "style." Without that, we're nowhere. "Quality of work" doesn't constitute a style.

Russ, you just answered the question you ask! 

There is no doubt at all that every single one of them has a distinct style... which even you can recognize.  You don't like the style of Gilden, Sherman or Gursky.

Unless you've got another of those daft ideas of yours, and want to claim they don't produce high quality work.  Keep in mind that quality is not measured by whether Russ likes it...  All three of them are widely aclaimed for the quality of their work.  And it is equally true that you are hardly alone in not particularly caring for their style of photography.  (I rather like Gursky's work, but agree with you about Sherman and in particular don't care for Gilden.)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 04, 2013, 12:46:59 PM
No, while I am somewhat bossy, I am able to ...

In that case, the characterizations you made seem no more than personal insults.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 04, 2013, 12:51:07 PM
No, while I am somewhat bossy, I am able to "wrap their minds around the idea that they might be in the presence of people who are as smart or smarter than they are, who have thought through some of the same issues at least as thoroughly, and who have arrived at different conclusions." it turns out.


Your descriptions can only apply to yourself.

You post Ad Hominem comments with gratuitous personal attacks on others that use descriptions where the only person you could know that about would be yourself.  You certainly cannot have that knowledge of others.  Hence it is pretty clear you've provided a description of exactly how you view yourself, and then attempt to project that onto others.

It's not exactly uncommon.  Most personal attacks have to be fabricated simply because the person making them knows nothing of substance about the person they want to insult.  What they find insulting enough is what they don't like about themselves.  (Another odd characteristic is that often enough the person it is directed at isn't even insulted by whatever it is the other guy doesn't like about himself.)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 04, 2013, 12:59:46 PM
Isaac, I find your quotations peculiar. Do you intend them simply as additional commentary? They seem to bear no particular relation to the text of mine you quote with them. Well, that's not quite right. They're talking about style.

That's not quite right. They're talking about style.

It's good stuff, although I tend to discount an artist's commentary on his own work a few points, for well-understood reasons...

Your reasons for discounting an artist's commentary on his own work may be well understood by you, but unknown to other people.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: RSL on October 04, 2013, 01:02:34 PM
Your reasons for discounting an artist's commentary on his own work may be well understood by you, but unknown to other people.

Are you kidding? Isaac, you need to go to the nearest art museum and read the "artists' statements." You might want to take a camera along.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 04, 2013, 01:04:26 PM
Andrew's reasons may be well understood by Andrew, but still unknown to other people.

Your assumptions are your own.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 04, 2013, 01:07:46 PM
By stating that they are "well understood" I thought I was being clear that I meant the reasons everyone knows, as opposed to some secret reasons of my own?

Honestly, all you have to do is assume that I am not an idiot and that I probably meant something sensible, and then go work out what that sensible thing ought to be. Insisting that I dot every i, cross every t, and remove all possible ambiguity is perhaps OK when you're marking up a draft of my thesis, but this is an internet forum.

I do you the courtesy of assuming that you mean something sensible, and the further courtesy of trying to work out what it is. Perhaps you could extend me the same courtesy.

Also, Isaac, you could extend us all the courtesy of expanding on what you actually intend, when directly and politely asked to do so, rather than simply making more terse and inscrutable side remarks. ETA: Ya know what, do what ya want, you're going on ignore too. Sorry, but you're just not saying anything interesting whatsoever, and you're deliberately irritating. Consider my request for clarification withdrawn, since I won't be seeing it if you do get around to it.

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 04, 2013, 01:19:21 PM
By stating that they are "well understood" I thought I was being clear that I meant the reasons everyone knows, ...

By stating "well understood" you were being clear that you meant reasons you assume everyone knows and agrees with.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 04, 2013, 02:44:01 PM
Are you kidding? Isaac, you need to go to the nearest art museum and read the "artists' statements." You might want to take a camera along.

That may be true about a lot of things a photographer might comment on... but not about their style.  The best authority on how and why an image was made is necessarily the photographer who produced it.

Less experienced photographers may not be aware of a great deal of the more obvious details about their style that can be readily seen, but nitty gritty details from an experienced photographer trump all else.  That is almost a certainty when it involves a museum exhibit.  Of course that assumes the viewer can separate photographic style from all other commentary.  However comments made here such as yours that Ansel Adams had no style and while others say he was a Pictorialist to his last breath, clearly suggest that not everyone has the facility to distinguish the difference.  That's not exactly amazing though, as it isn't a characteristic necessary to photography, which is the common denominator for posters here.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: amolitor on October 04, 2013, 03:04:48 PM
Reviewing a few of the more sensible posts in this thread, it's become clear to me that there's a disconnect.

Russ makes the perfectly correct point that one cannot reliably identify a photographer from a single photograph (or even, I assert, a large group of them) absent recognizing a specific picture. He makes the incorrect leap, I think, that this means there's no such thing as style. The response seems to have been mostly to yell that there is so such a thing as style.

I maintain that there is such a thing as style, but that style alone is not sufficient to identify a photographer.

While you cannot reliably recognize an HCB picture, you would most likely NOT guess HCB when shown an Adams, or even a Winogrand. Even that would not be reliable, since there's nothing to prevent HCB from having done a bit of the old landscape, or from tipping his camera a bit, but it would be pretty reliable.

Style does provide the ability to differentiate, to a degree. Just not enough, in photography, to identify the artist.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 04, 2013, 03:47:08 PM
Russ makes the perfectly correct point that one cannot reliably identify a photographer from a single photograph (or even, I assert, a large group of them) absent recognizing a specific picture. He makes the incorrect leap, I think, that this means there's no such thing as style. The response seems to have been mostly to yell that there is so such a thing as style.

There's the "disconnect" you mention. It's a logical disconnect.  It is correct that one cannot reliably identify the photographer, and that has exactly no significance at all to this discussion!  None, zero, zilch, diddly sqat! Nada.

The question should never be about a unique style, as unique is virtually impossible in reality.  Everyone necessarily has to use some of the same techniques, the same mechanisms, the same modes, or at a minimum very similar methods.  It's the specific mixture and the ability to produce the same style at will.

Your "own style" doesn't need be unique, it  needs be repeatable and wilful.

Quote
I maintain that there is such a thing as style, but that style alone is not sufficient to identify a photographer.

While you cannot reliably recognize an HCB picture, you would most likely NOT guess HCB when shown an Adams, or even a Winogrand. Even that would not be reliable, since there's nothing to prevent HCB from having done a bit of the old landscape, or from tipping his camera a bit, but it would be pretty reliable.

Style does provide the ability to differentiate, to a degree. Just not enough, in photography, to identify the artist.


And the same is true in every art form.   This isn't something even worth talking about except that it seems some people here haven't understood it yet.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 04, 2013, 03:51:20 PM
So what makes these sources authoritative then? Rather than ill thought out opinions?

Moreover "... it is argument, not just the word of the experts, which should be carrying the authoritative weight..."

In this case (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=82268.msg668228#msg668228), the opinions were stated in the Preface and Introduction to reproductions of all 90 images included in the portfolios Ansel Adams produced from 1948 to 1976. We have more than "the word of the experts".


Similarly we shouldn't accept the opinions stated in this discussion, about the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, just on say-so. If we read about "the obvious differences in their styles" it would be best followed by a series of juxtaposed examples like -- Through their own eyes: the personal portfolios of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams (http://books.google.com/books?ei=uhVPUszQE4ipigL0gYGwAg&id=y9VTAAAAMAAJ&dq=Through+their+own+eyes%3A+the+personal+portfolios+of+Edward+Weston+and+Ansel+Adams&q=%22the+obvious+differences+in+their+styles%22).


"Adams drove them to Edward Weston's home in Carmel... On their way back to San Francisco... stopped several times to take photographs along the coastal highway, resulting in a ... the Surf Sequence (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/photographs/ansel-adams-surf-sequence-a-e-1940-5479132-details.aspx). ... The images also seem to owe a debt to Edward Weston, with whom Adams made two expeditions to the High Sierra in 1937. Between these trips, Weston created a series of three photographs, Surf, Orick (http://ccp.uair.arizona.edu/item/13187), (1937), visually ambiguous studies of advancing waves taken from a high vantage point."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Isaac on October 04, 2013, 04:19:59 PM
Are you kidding? Isaac, you need to go to the nearest art museum and read the "artists' statements." You might want to take a camera along.

It's notable that you have nothing to say about the Ansel Adams's quotations. There's nothing interesting about your quarreling.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: michael on October 04, 2013, 04:45:18 PM
Please chill, or let this thread die please.

Michael
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on October 11, 2013, 10:31:00 AM
Every now and then, another RedwoodGuy pops up in this forum  ;)
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 12, 2013, 12:33:10 PM
That may be true about a lot of things a photographer might comment on... but not about their style.  The best authority on how and why an image was made is necessarily the photographer who produced it.
I recently saw some Mapplethorpe images that had been gathered together to coincide with some event or other. next to the images there were some captions alluding as to why the photographer composed this or did that. None of them ever happened to be along the lines he did so and so simply because it looked good. There had to be a much more profound/pretentious reason instead. Unfortunately we can't ask the photographer as he is sadly no longer with us.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 12, 2013, 12:51:52 PM
That reminds me of a daft Facebook conversation about a photo of mine that also referenced the Mapplethorpe exhibition. After which I decided NL can write the dippy, sorry profound captions whenever I do an ART book.


NL - The addition of the chain implies a lot of added meaning, but I've no idea what the meaning is, which is I suppose the intention.

jjj - I saw a Maplethorpe portrait exhibition recently with some friends and all 3 of us thought the comments regarding the images and their 'meanings' were bogus and over egged BS. It never seems to occurs to art critics, that maybe images/paintings etc were sometimes posed in the way they were, simply because it looked nice. But you also cannot be taken seriously as an artist if that was your reasoning.
So being an artist - "Signe's chain represent the boring non-swing dancers back home who trying to drag her down into the muddy reality of the world outside Herrang. The flower represents the beauty of Herrang and its blossoming during the weeks of July"
Alles Klar! Ja?

NL -  Oh, I get it now. I thought the chain represented the many links of action and consequence that had led her to finding the flower, and the sun over the flower represented the realisation that picking the flower will in itself have more consequences, and her extended little finger represented society's etiquette which decorates death (the plucked flower) in an attempt to live with it more easily. Yes, your one makes more sense, although I'd like to boast that mine is more pretentious.

jjj - The extended little finger......she's just posh!

NL -  Ah yes, posh -and so the chains are the chains of society enforcing a code of upper-class etiquette on the posh woman, who gazes longingly at the flower, symbol of Nature and that which is untouched by social mores, and the sun is seen to shine on nature and not on the chain. Got it.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Jim Pascoe on October 24, 2013, 02:15:44 AM
I've only just seen this thread - so missed out on all the excitement!  Actually, when I cut through all the crap, almost everyone had something interesting to say on the subject and I had a good think about my own response to it.

When I started to study photography in 1995 our tutors where encouraging us to develop our own personal style.  This was something that stressed me somewhat because I was unsure how to do that.  Looking back now, my view is that a style is something that finds you.  If you shoot enough pictures and push to improve what you are doing then you will of course develop a style.  Same as you develop a style of walking - it may not be that different from many others, but it will still be almost unique. 
I have always been a keen cyclist and I can recognise some of my friends out cycling from a distance where I could not possible recognise their face or body - just from their pedalling style.  How many different ways are there to ride a bicycle?  And we are talking about skilled, experienced cyclists too.

Your photographic style may not be very different from other photographers - it may even be (probably is) inspired by the work of others, but it will still be uniquely yours. I'm not talking about the casual snap-shooter either. I assume we mean people who either make a living from their photography or for whom photography is a passion and done very frequently.  Photographer friends have asked me about how to develop a style and I just tell them not to worry - it will find them.

To be a good photographer requires taking lots of pictures.  If you do anything frequently you will get a style which is very hard to shake off.  It is also possible to deliberately ape a certain style - or if you are very talented perhaps to come up with a really unique style of your own. 

From a distance in time it is hard to see many historic photographers had a defined style - because over the years so many others have sought to emulate them.  I'm sure at the time they had a readily discernible style.  Rob C says he could easily recognise a Bailey in the 60's - and I believe him.  And yes, certain styles came about at various points in history too, because as soon as something new comes along it is copied.  I completely disagree with RSL that you cannot discern style in outdoor photography.  I know lots of local photographers and I can easily tell their work apart when I see it.  Not every time, but most of the time.

Lastly - I shoot a lot of weddings.  A few years ago I was in a clients home while shooting some portraits of their children.  Hanging in the kitchen was a multi-frame type display of a load of candid monochrome wedding pictures. The sort of thing you could see in many houses and shot by most wedding photographers these days.  But for some reason they had a 'look' about them.  I asked who the photographer was and was told "you wont know him, he's from miles away and we got married over ten years ago".  Well it turns out that I did know the photographer and had been working with him as a second shooter a couple of years before the pictures on display were taken.  In addition, they looked a lot like my pictures, which illustrates that my 'style' was heavily influenced by the photographer when I was starting out.

So yes, it is quite possible, indeed probable that you can have a style.  It might be very unique, or more likely just subtle, but it is real.

My thought anyway.

Jim

Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Christoph C. Feldhaim on October 24, 2013, 06:08:11 AM
I totally do not try to develop some arbitrary style - I just do what I like to.
I am sure this will lead to something in the end.
Taking the ego too serious ("my style", "my intuition", "my whatsoever") simply leads to some random mess.

Do you remember "The life of Brian" ?
You are all individuals .... :P

Follow the flow and don't forget to have fun along the way.

my € 0.02 ..

Cheers
~Chris
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 24, 2013, 06:34:54 AM
From a distance in time it is hard to see many historic photographers had a defined style - because over the years so many others have sought to emulate them.  I'm sure at the time they had a readily discernible style.  Rob C says he could easily recognise a Bailey in the 60's - and I believe him.
I usually recognise his B+W work when he does the odd magazine job, even though he's before my time.


 
Quote
And yes, certain styles came about at various points in history too, because as soon as something new comes along it is copied.  I completely disagree with RSL that you cannot discern style in outdoor photography.  I know lots of local photographers and I can easily tell their work apart when I see it.  Not every time, but most of the time.
And some people say "all ****** music sounds the same to me" and insist that it is not them that cannot distinguish between various distinctly different artists, but a failing of the music [that they do not like].

Quote
I asked who the photographer was and was told "you wont know him, he's from miles away and we got married over ten years ago".  Well it turns out that I did know the photographer and had been working with him as a second shooter a couple of years before the pictures on display were taken.  In addition, they looked a lot like my pictures, which illustrates that my 'style' was heavily influenced by the photographer when I was starting out
I often wonder if it is always influence as such when seeing someone else's work or that's what you like and would tend to do anyway. Maybe you were employed as second shooter because your styles were compatible/similar in some way and your work may even have had influence the other way.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Manoli on October 24, 2013, 07:13:13 AM
I often wonder if it is always influence as such when seeing someone else's work or that's what you like and would tend to do anyway.

Nail on the head …
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 24, 2013, 09:06:24 AM
Nail on the head …

It's the same thing either way though. 

We select to study a photographer's work for their style, to match our interest.  That work influences our work because it is what we are innately interested.

But generally, we learn what we are interested in by looking at other people's work, rather than just imagining on our own and trying everything?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 24, 2013, 09:47:20 AM
But generally, we learn what we are interested in by looking at other people's work, rather than just imagining on our own and trying everything?
Speak for yourself. Some people do actually imagine things all on their own or look at what's there and try to do something different. Sadly those with no imagination then copy and the interesting and different then becomes the mundane mainstream.

Or you can simply get some software and get all your creativity done for you.
I noticed this oxymoronic gem whilst looking at the DXO site. - "Presets - Give a unique look to your photos" And also "You can also express your creativity by using the “Atmospheres” presets to give your photos a special look and feel."
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: mezzoduomo on October 24, 2013, 10:15:56 AM
But generally, we learn what we are interested in by looking at other people's work, rather than just imagining on our own and trying everything?

I learned what I was interested in shooting...by shooting, and being satisfied or dissatisfied with the results over time.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 24, 2013, 10:28:46 AM
I learned what I was interested in shooting...by shooting, and being satisfied or dissatisfied with the results over time.

And you were never influenced in what was satisfactory by any image you didn't make???  I would expect you had long before learned what you like, and by shooting and shooting you learned how to produce it.

I knew by the time I was ten years old what kind of images most interested me, and that of course could happen only because like everyone else I had been exposed to photographs from the time I was able to focus my eyes!  Virtually every child will see thousands and thousands of photgraphic images by the time they are out of primary school.

By the time we are teenagers, if pictures interest us, we have already formed some mental concept of what is "nice" and therefore of what we might later decide to make ourselves.

The idea that anyone actually experiments with every possible style and develops their interests soley based on their own work is attrociously narrow.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 24, 2013, 12:01:38 PM
The idea that anyone actually experiments with every possible style and develops their interests soley based on their own work is attrociously narrow.
I based my style on Renassance Tapestry, the Battle Russes and Philip Glass.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 24, 2013, 12:03:34 PM
I learned what I was interested in shooting...by shooting, and being satisfied or dissatisfied with the results over time.
I learned from doing just that is that what I thought as I wasn't interested in was what I was very good at and now love to do - that's photograph people.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 24, 2013, 12:07:06 PM
I based my style on Renassance Tapestry, the Battle Russes and Philip Glass.

So despite what you previously said, you didn't just imagine all of it on your own.
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: Floyd Davidson on October 24, 2013, 12:14:47 PM
I learned from doing just that is that what I thought as I wasn't interested in was what I was very good at and now love to do - that's photograph people.

And previusly you said you weren't influenced by others, which of course could only be if you had never seen any examples of "people pictures" until you started using a camera to make your own.

Or is it more likely that your interest in people pictures was fairly well developed before you were a photographer?  And that what you learned with the camera was not an interest in people pictures at all, but rather the techniques for making good people pictures?
Title: Re: develop ones own style...
Post by: jjj on October 24, 2013, 01:44:41 PM
And previusly you said you weren't influenced by others.
No I didn't. I'm influenced by everything I see or do. But influenced by does not necessarily mean copying. It can mean doing something different from what you see around you.

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Or is it more likely that your interest in people pictures was fairly well developed before you were a photographer?  And that what you learned with the camera was not an interest in people pictures at all, but rather the techniques for making good people pictures?
Not sure if you are struggling with reading or comprehending an alternative point of view.
I had no interest in photography let alone portraiture before I picked up a camera to try it out. Found I liked it but actively tried to avoid photographing people, only later discovering I was rather good at it. Probably found this out as unless you do landscapes people end up being in a lot of photos.