“what helped you to find your own style and voice? this is something i’m struggling to achieve.” – lilly
you thought i was’t coming, right? but no, this weekend i wasn’t going to fail on you! so this weekend we have a very relevant question, because i know that most of my readers are creative persons and getting to our own style is a bit hard! lilly is a young woman from portugal, who is working in london in a consulting firm. however she loves to takes photos and that’s what she does in her free time, she wanders around her city (and other ones where she has to travel to) and always carries her camera. i’ve known lilly for a long time and she has been exploring her skills in photography for quite a while now. and as a self-taught photographer i know exactly what she’s talking about on finding a style, with which we feel related to.
finding our own style is a hard thing and this week i even read something about it, from an also self-taught designer and i felt so related with what she said. you can read the full post here, but basically what she states is that our own style, asides from being a hard “thing” to find, maybe even more when we don’t have the formal education to what we are doing, is perhaps a project that will never seem finished.
the way i see it is that a style is something that is very unique. i believe we all agree on this part. and that uniqueness is the thing that is hard to find. we don’t know where to start, how to choose our subjects, how to compose our photos, how to play with light, how to play with textures, colours… and then if we are into editing work, that’s a whole new world, because the possibilities are endless and we feel a bit lost. and that is when our memory will recall what we saw, what we liked, what triggered our minds and sometimes without even noticing we’ll be tremendous (but really nice and naive) copy cats. yes, i said we’ll be copy cats. and don’t you dare saying “oh no, i was never such thing!”, no you were! i know you were! even if that thing never left your laptop to the immense world of the internet, we all tried or did something that looked exactly like somebody else’s work. and you know what? it is ok!
jessica hische said one thing that got stuck on my mind (if you don’t know who jessica hische is, jump on to her website, but basically she’s this really amazing and creative lady who created the film titles for wes anderson’s last movie – moonrise kingdom), she was writing about inspiration vs imitation and she said “when you’re learning, it’s not wrong to copy people—to learn from them the way that they learned from others before them. what many young artists have a problem realizing though, is that the work you create while practicing and learning is completely separate of what you do professionally (…) copy all you wish in private, and once you feel confident in your skills, create your own original public work.” and this ladies is what i’m talking about.
this is a part of the process to find our own style. because when we copy, when we look, when we feel inspired by, we are on the way to find a little more about ourselves. and that is a good thing. we just need to learn how to separate what we did for inspiration, imitation or purely our own thing. and i believe that within ourselves we always know what was it.finding a style also requires three things (!) – practice, practice and practice. without going out there, challenging yourself and experimenting different things, you won’t get there. also jessica hische suggested that we should diversify our inspirations and this makes total sense, because this way we will feel more related to something in particular and hopefully we’ll start exploring that field.
and then i also believe that our style develops with us, so having the exact same style through the years might not be a good thing. personally i believe it’s a bad thing, but others may state that it relates with personality and if someone knows exactly what one likes, chances are it won’t change drastically. however, allow me to differ, because even if our personalities are strong and we know exactly what we want, that doesn’t mean that our path will be kept the exact same one we once thought for our lives. therefore, along with our personality, our experiences, our own experience as photographer, designer, crafter… we will learn and grow and our style will reflect that.
cassie of the veda house is a designer that i absolutely admire. i love her style and the honest voice she has behind her work and blog. this week i was catching up with her blog and she had written a post about her style and the way she noticed that her personal design style didn’t quite change in the last years. but of course, she ended up saying that though some things have indeed changed, her “natural instinct” is still there. she thought of it as her style, but a more sophisticated version of her style. and that is a good thing as well, it denotes change, but a natural as well!
i think i may say that people know my style for the use of light. i like to see slight overexposed images and sometimes i really overexpose them to create the sense of dream. that is my thing. i feel related with bright light (not harsh light), a creamy tone and of focused images. that is my imaginary world and i love to play with those characteristics when i’m out there on a client session or alone. but that doesn’t it will remain my thing forever.
i absolutely love to look at the work of photographers who do the exact opposite thing and play with low light. i love the subtleness of the low light, the shapes of the objects in low light, the feeling that below is a heavy sky getting ready to pour down the rain. i want to try that as well, and though it doesn’t mean i’ll shift my style to underexposed images, i may explore that side of me and then maybe it will reflect on the work i do. and i think it’s normal. we should evolve as persons and as professionals. our style will just reflect that change and evolution.
in terms of photography, i love the style of so many photographers and it’s obvious that when i’m out there shooting, i may replicate some things i have seen and that i have enjoyed. is that a bad thing? probably yes or probably not. i’m composing photos the way i learned i liked and play along with the ones i have in front of me. and by that aspect only, it will be different. the main thing is to look at the photos of a session and feel like the photos tell a story and tell their story. not just a bunch of posed people, portraying several photos i saw on someone’s portfolio before.
and this is it my friends, i hope you have enjoyed this insight on finding your style and voice! and if you want to explore other questions that were once asked, look here! have a nice weekend!
ps. remember when we learn how to write and we keep changing our calligraphy every other week in prep school? yes, that is the same thing. eventually we end up writing the way we feel like it. it’s our own style, because let’s face it, trying to write all day long as someone else is a lot of hard work and a total waste of our precious time! and we only found our own style, but writing every single day at school.