I’d been taking photographs for ten years before I learned this simple lesson, here's my story...
For years I struggled to find my own style. I was copying other photographers well enough, learning the various techniques the photographers used, but I didn't have my own look, only theirs. It just wasn’t me. I struggled to be the photographer I wanted to be. Oh sure, I took plenty of photographs and had the technique down-pat but I was a really only a photocopier. I would study the photographs made by the greats. Ansel Adams was a favourite, his black and white work blew my mind, and I would try, over and over, to copy his techniques. Basically I tried to look like Ansel Adams. But Ansel Adams is not me.
I was a really only a photocopier
Eventually, I found what I wanted, my signature look, the me in my images and, in the end, it was so simple. After developing hundreds, no thousands of images, I realised I was creating something of my own look - a certain brand to my images that made them look like mine. I saw the me in my photographs and it was so simple. My me was soft focus! Look at the photographs on this page and you’ll see something of me in them. Each one has a softness, an almost pastel look that I have developed over the last forty years. The apples are soft and almost glowing. The landscape is softened by the lighting. These are the things I started to see and to enjoy in my work as I developed my style. Below is an image I made in the Lake District, England of an old oak tree in a field. Again, the softness of the image is my signature.
In the great words of Monty Python’s Life of Brian “You are all individuals!”.
Through working on thousands of my own images I learned what I loved in my work. And that’s what I’m telling you here, find your own style and make it you. Sure, study the masters, watch your favourite photographers work, but always think how you could make it yours, unique to you. In the great words of Monty Python’s Life of Brian “You are all individuals!”. Your style might morph over the years and I look forward to how mine changes in the future but, at least for me, I have my own look and feel. So that’s my story, how I found myself in my images, how, like a writer who strives for his or her style, I found my place in the world of photography. Start looking at your own work and see what makes it truly yours. Enjoy the “You" that you find, and know that this is your mark on the photographic world.