On style

Uncategorized, Writing

 

I joined the Ajax Photography Club and went to a very interesting talk by Michael Willems on “Developing Your Photographic Style”. Quite by accident I decided to join the club when developing your style was a theme this year. Thank goodness!

Over the past few months “style” has been a weight I’ve been carrying around. I understood what it meant, but applying it to my photographic work was a whole other ball game. Pretty sure my earlier posts talked about or at least implied the pressure of trying to define my style. I just didn’t feel like waiting around for it to happen (just shoot long enough, you’ll find it). I’ve been doing all this too long. Secretly of course, I was quite sure I didn’t have one. I like to do too many things, experiment with too many things.

Once you know who you are, you’ll know what your style is, goes the advice.

I think not.

Not for me, anyway. It’s possible to get too close to your work. It’s possible to get lost in that low lying anxiety.

Michael Willems was the first I’ve encountered that actually had specific and actionable suggestions on how to tackle this question of style.

One of the more helpful take aways was the suggestion of going over your past work for those of us that have work to look back on which I do.

What patterns emerge? Certainly when I look at the work I’ve done that I’ve never intended to show anyone, I see a number of patterns.  Structures, empty rooms, skies, flat graphics, people – but specific kinds of shots (of course the rabbit heads!), and the requisite selfies.

With some of my work there has been a certain darkness and isolation that has been there since I started shooting, although much more muted than it was. There is also a kind of unreality of others, some fantasy based, some blown out highlights, over-saturation. When I think about what my obsessions are, there are identifiable ones. But rather than thinking that I just keep going after the new shiny object, (ie. I do too much and I need to just pick something) I suspect I am actually after something.

I have visual stories to tell, but I haven’t told them all, and I haven’t found a way to more accurately tell the ones I’m working on.

The new few shots are an exploration of the Lake Ontario. The lake and lakes in general have been a feature of my life except for when I lived in England. And when I lived there, I remember going to the Thames and feeling unsatisfied, and then taking a trip in December to the Highlands of Scotland (people thought I was mad) to get that water and land fix.  Later I remember asking my husband once why he took the Lakeshore instead of the Gardiner and I was surprised when he said, because you like to look at the water.

Well here are some of my looks.