In my recent Developing Your Photographic Style post I ventured into the world of personal photographic styles and how they identify us as individual photographers. In response, my friend, John Barclay offered one thought (among many) that when creating our images, while the choices we make may have an affect on the look of our work the actual defining of a style is not our choice, but is for someone else to decide. John’s comments reminded me of a post I made a couple of years ago (Dispensing With Labels) in which I questioned whether or not we should create labels for the type of photography we do. I argued that I did not want to create such labels for fear that they may can constrain my work.
After reading my Dispensing With Labels post again along with my Developing Your Photographic Style post and considering John’s comment I realized that the type of photography we do and our photographic style are not mutually exclusive – they are actually part of the same thing, i.e. the images we create. I agree with the idea that choices we make when creating our images affect on our work. However, I also believe that such choices manifest themselves in ways that are very personal to each of us and while this may happen subconsciously the choices we make leave traces that eventually become our signature. When people begin to identify our work, as John offered, there becomes a tendency to label it. So, as we continue in the pursuit of image making, is there a need to constrain our efforts to fit the style label that others have created for us or do we focus on creating images that excite us? I think I want to travel down the road of the latter since this path offers greater opportunity and a much wider latitude for creativity.