Thursday, January 2, 2014

Style And Maturity


Here recently I realized I had matured in certain aspects of my photography and found my own style, so to speak. I wasn't really attune to the fact it was occurring, but I suppose it's a natural progression. Perhaps you've been through it already or maybe you're going through it now and don't realize it. If you want to read for a couple of minutes, I'll explain.

It dawned on me not long ago that I had found a style of photography that suits me more so than others. By that I mean I'm drawn to the "single photo" approach. For the better part of last year, the majority of photos I posted were single shots rather than a series. Early on when I posted a single photo it was usually because there was only one photo to post, but over time I began adopting a single shot philosophy where I would try to convey what I wanted with one photo. Obviously, I was consciously doing it, but I didn't realize I was finding my style. 

That doesn't mean I don't also use a series approach because I do. For example, when I'm shooting herons as they fish, my goal is to get the whole sequence from first strike into the water all the way to the final gulp. The series of photos tells a story from beginning to end. Some stories are best told with a series of photos. And that's what we're doing, by the way...storytelling. Photos are visual stories. But even when I have a series of shots, like herons, now I'm finding myself wanting to pick out just one photo to show rather than the entire series. That's what I mean about finding my style. I haven't just thrown other approaches out the window, but I really enjoy the challenge and simplicity of using a single shot.

Another aspect of photography that I've found myself incorporating into my style is minimalism. I love minimalism! I enjoy the challenge of seeing just how few elements I can have in a photo and still pull off the shot. Minimalism isn't possible in every situation and it's not something I would want to do for every shot, but I love using it when it works. Negative space is minimalism taken to the maximum and I enjoy using negative space, too.





I've been talking about style, but I mentioned at the beginning I had matured in some respects. Maturity may not be the most appropriate word, but I'm going with it. I'll give you a couple of examples. The first one is very common. I no longer worry about the ISO setting. ISO is part of the exposure triangle and one I used to worry about. The reason ISO is such a big deal for a lot of photographers is because the higher the ISO setting, the more digital noise that can appear in the photo. Higher ISO settings increase the camera sensor's sensitivity to light allowing us to shoot in low light situations. The trade off is "noise" or a grainy appearance in the photo. I don't concern myself with this anymore. Let me be clear, I still use the lowest possible ISO setting I can for the situation. Here's the difference between early on and now...early on if the conditions dictated I had to increase my ISO really high in order to maintain a fast shutter speed or use a small aperture for good depth of field, I would often avoid taking the photo because I was worried about the high ISO. Not now. For example, if the conditions and lens I'm using dictate the lowest ISO I can use is 1600, then I use 1600 and take the shots. I've matured in the fact that I'm no longer enslaved by ISO. With modern cameras and the noise reduction capabilities available in post-processing, limiting myself because of ISO worries was just silly.

The last example of how I've matured is in the way I approach wildlife photos. Everyone loves the frame filling shots of birds and animals. I try to fill the frame with a wildlife subject for many of my photos. Frame filling close ups can be very impressive. However, I find myself now wanting to take more environmental type shots. In other words, rather than trying to get really close to my subject, I look for ways to include the subject's natural environment while still making it obvious what the subject is. That's the key. It still needs to be obvious to the viewer what the bird or animal is while including the environment. Frame filling shots are awesome and I am not going to stop using them, but I think there's more story telling potential when a subject's natural environment is included. I suppose this could be part of the style aspect, but I consider it part of my maturity because I've grown beyond always trying to get the super close up shot. When I do get the frame fillers, I will often also take the wider photos so I have both close ups and the environmental shots.

I'm not a professional and I'll never stop learning. If I ever think I know it all, it'll be time to put my gear on eBay and take up shuffle board. It was exciting, though, when I realized I had come into a style that I enjoy and could concentrate on rather than being all over the place. Having a style you like doesn't mean giving up the others, it just means you've defined yourself and your photography.




20 comments:

Joop Zand said...

Good photo and a beautiful composition Brian ..... We remain as photographers always learn to take better pictures, and again it is also important to create their own style.

Greetings, Joop

Ramakrishnan Ramanathan said...

Interesting post.Love the puzzled look on the egret !

Pamela Gordon said...

Interesting thoughts Brian. And a beautiful shot. I can see what you mean by your style. It's all good!

Amy Burzese said...

Good post. I'm not sure that I have style or maturity at this point, or rather, I'm not able to pin point it and speak about it.

Jan n Jer said...

I love your style Brian. I actually understood everything your talking about!(thanks to our photo club). I have been leaning towards "Leading Lines" as my style...I love to draw the eye to a subject. Single shot is also appealing to me. I like to keep my post simple but able to convey a story. You are an outstanding photographer Brian...keep up the good work.

TexWisGirl said...

we've watched your skills grow, here, and it was obvious to us that you were hitting your stride. it is nice that you can define your specialty and focus without limiting yourself in any way. we'll keep watching and waiting for what you'll share.

Tanya Breese said...

that was a great post and you definitely have your own style!

Grandma Barb's This and That said...

You have definitely found your style, Brian! Your photos are always wonderful and I would consider you a professional.

Nancy J said...

Your style is you!!And your words, true for how you take photos now , but even for me, I can see that I am changing , and maybe for many others, they will read your words and realise the way they look at scenes, animals, birds, or people, changes as they visualise a photo. Thank you for the thoughtful insight. Today's photo, the more you look, the more you see, lovely. Greetings from Jean for 2014.

Montanagirl said...

Well, I certainly like your photo today! I like the bird peeking out and the composition. Really enjoyed your post today. I'm kind of a "post one photo" person. Sometimes I get sensory over-load when posts have twenty photos in them. And I don't say a lot in my posts either. But I enjoy reading what others have to say. Thank you for being a faithful follower! LOL

Connie Smiley said...

Love this post, Brian, especially since I've seen your photos mature over the past few years. It's good to see your approach in words, too.

This photo is wonderful, and well illustrates your point. There's a story here; the shot grabs my attention and makes me curious.

Gail Dixon said...

Brian, I enjoyed this post very much and have also enjoyed your one-shot posts all year. Actually, I've always admired that you were able to settle on just one, because I know with your skill level, you could have bombarded us with shot after shot. The image of the heron looking out over the water is a great example of the minimalist style. You captured those intense eyes and his surroundings, yet still telling his story. I love when you share your thoughts on photography since I am still learning and developing, too.

Debbie said...

oh brian, i love your style, i am never able to decide on just one picture. i often don't even know what i'm looking at!!

i don't think i have a style ;)

eileeninmd said...

Brian, I have enjoyed your style and images!! I am looking forward to seeing a lot more in 2014. Keep up the great work..

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Karen said...

When I first started posting on my blog, I was a single shot poster. Over the past little while I have been putting on a series or two. I have a lot of noise in my photos because I haven't mastered the ISO settings and light thing yet! I marvel over your photos Brian, they are always fantastic!

TheChieftess said...

Wonderful description of "coming into one's own" in your photography life!!! I've found that I really like macro photography...it's all in the details!

Carole M. said...

you're certainly an accomplished photographer Brian; your photos are always spectacular to see. Keep on doing what you're doing and enjoying your craft, and sharing with us because it's very special

Kenneth Cole Schneider said...

Thanks for the beautiful photo and the useful instructional comments. I'm guilty of trying to fill the frame with my subjects and too often fail to include habitat. Happy New Year!

Ida said...

Whatever your style is I like it & your are good at it. - I'm still trying to figure mine out.

Lindsjö taxar said...

Great post! I am still Learning Everything I can get from others experince, thanks