In my previous post I described how I have made a conscious effort to evolve my personal style away from where I was going until about a year ago. I felt my photographic style was too influenced by my stock photography work.
Here is an example of how I have approached evolving my style in the studio. In previous shoots I would have started with a lighting plan, set up all the lights and metered to get the exposure values I wanted. Then I would have tweaked things once the model was positioned.
For this shoot, I started with no lights. Once I had the model positioned, I added a light directly above the model. Why? Just because I don’t normally do that.
Then, I started placing other lights and looking at the effect that was developing. It wasn’t completely random—I had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish but it was very general. It was more along the lines of looking for dimensionality, contrast, perhaps a mood. It wasn’t specific in the way my work has been in the past.
The result is something beyond what I originally envisioned and nothing like what I would have shot two years ago. I think it’s much more sophisticated and evolved.
The work takes longer this way but I think it’s worth it.
When I first started getting serious about my photography I kept thinking about how to create my personal style. I’d try one thing thinking that would become my style but then I’d go off in a completely different direction some other time.
Over time, I did develop a personal style. I knew it was a personal style because I could look at a collection of my pictures and see that they were all taken by the same person.
Its evolution wasn’t a conscious thing. It just evolved naturally after I’d taken something like 10,000 photos. So when it comes to a personal photography style that was my theory of evolution — shoot a lot of pictures and it’ll just happen.
In any event, I came to realize after some time that my need to shoot stock photos to make money was influencing the evolution of my style. All my photos, stock or not, had a commercial, stocky look: bright and even lighting, bright and saturated colors. These were becoming my trademark. It wasn’t what I wanted.
I wanted more mood in my images. I wanted my images to have more of a fine art feel to them.
About a year and a half ago I decided to intentionally get away from shooting quite so much stock photography. I set out to see if I could develop a different “feel” to my images. A new, more intentional and directed theory of evolution.
I think I’ve been successful. I’ve created a number of images in the last year or so that I consider the best work I’ve done. Best of all,
it doesn’t look commercial in the way stock photos do.
Now I’m focusing on using light more creatively. This applies in my landscapes as well as in the studio. The above image is an example from my studio work. I’ve returned to to the studio with a more experimental approach and I think it’s starting to take off.
The bodyscape image above is made with a view to creating a strong graphical statement rather than a portrait. I hope you like it. I’ll post some more from my studio work at another time so you can follow along as I explore my new theory of evolution.