Monthly fragments; June 2012

When I re-started to take photography a bit more seriously, a couple years back, I begin to follow a path that I thought would give me the insights to achieve a recognizable “style”. The aim was not to flourish in the photographic community or to try to be famous. I was just hopping to find my self-expression trough photography and to feel good about the pictures I take. I somehow thought that with practice and experience, that kind of recognizable “style” would emerge.

My line of reasoning was based on the examples of those generally considered as great photographers, like Bresson, Salgado, McCurry, Francesca Woodman or Daido Moriyama; their work is easily recognizable because each one expresses one self in a particular kind of way, in relation with their personal interests, techniques and attitudes towards photography and the world.

Well, things didn’t turn out to be quite like I was expecting and I just don’t know if I’m moving towards something I can call a personal style. I’m not even sure if that’s an important question for me anymore. All this time, however, was not spent in vain. Besides having fun taking pictures, regardless of the results, I reach two conclusions related to the way of balancing emotion and reason in (my) photography.

First of all, I now understand the importance of being emotionally connected with the subjects I choose for my photographs and that connection can be a human interest, a particular color arrangement, an interesting composition or a beautiful sky. It can also be a particular mood I’m experiencing on any given time for which I discover a visual capture to convey it. The number of possibilities is immense and I never know what will catch my attention. If this emotional connection with the subject doesn’t exist or it’s week, I find it very difficult to achieve satisfactory results.

However, this dispersion of interests can be annoying and I sometimes think I could produce better and more interesting photos if I narrowed the subjects down, something I’m not prepared (or want) to do as yet.

Second, I discovered the advantages of emotionally disconnecting from the shots I take, after I took them. Does this contradicts the first point? I think not. What I mean is that I found to have a much better judgment towards my pictures after disconnecting emotionally from them. Time alone will do the job and the more time, the better. It’s only when I forget the emotional circumstances that led me to take those shots that I’m in a good stand to use a more rational approach and evaluate the real interest of those shots as photographs. That’s not as easy as it sounds because I feel an inner pressure to shot, edit, post and move on…

Being fond of a particular shot one takes doesn’t necessarily make it a good shot. There’s nothing wrong with that but one must be able to tell the diference… Objectively.

All photographs by António Marques – © António Marques Photoblog, 2010-2012

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14 responses

  1. Nice post. I think once you stop looking for a “style” and just start making photographs that you see, and that you like–for yourself–you’ll find your style.

    July 3, 2012 at 21:34

    • António Marques

      Yes… Just the unpleasant feeling that it’ll take time… and thousands of shots 🙂

      July 3, 2012 at 22:10

  2. THANK YOU – THE SHOT WITH THE CHAIRS IS MY FAVOURITE BECAUSE IT OFFERS ME THE GREATEST FOOD FOR IMAGINATION!!!

    July 3, 2012 at 21:57

    • António Marques

      That’s a curious way of seeing it…

      July 3, 2012 at 22:03

  3. I think most artistic photographers grow as they go along, meaning they go through various styles over their careers. Right now your style is black-and-white experimental, I’d say.

    July 4, 2012 at 00:11

    • António Marques

      I agree, Richard.
      I think it’s a growing process that’s more easily perceptible to others than to the photographer itself.
      As to the question of personal style, I honestly don’t know. Today I find the journey to be much more important and interesting than the arrival…

      July 4, 2012 at 00:59

  4. These are all beautiful. As usual, you have such amazing perspectives!

    July 4, 2012 at 05:22

    • António Marques

      Thank you, Anarya.

      July 4, 2012 at 11:44

  5. Jorge Ledesma

    Well I agree. Sometimes being connected and disconnected has it own advantages. Personally, I feel connected with an image even before I actually shoot it, I know you know what I mean, its like a vision that I see and it happens in a fraction of a second. By this, I certainly don’t imply its something magical, its simply a trained eye use to seeing things differently and that, my friend, you do very well also.

    Cheers,
    JL

    July 4, 2012 at 16:41

    • António Marques

      Yes. Maybe we can call it “visual intuition”…
      What puzzles me is the effect of time in the editing (selecting) process; Those shots I assume to be keepers one or two days after a shooting session, aren’t exactly the same ones I will choose after I analyze them again, weeks or months after. I suspect that as experience grows, these differences in judgment cause by the distinctive degrees of emotional attachment will tend to mitigate. Perhaps this “intuition“ mentioned earlier will tend to transform itself into knowledge; the ability to know (and not just “feel”) one has a good shot and still think that way for many years after.
      Thank you for sharing and discuss, Jorge. All the best!

      July 4, 2012 at 23:21

  6. like the photography.

    July 4, 2012 at 19:50

    • António Marques

      Thank you, Alessandro 🙂

      July 11, 2012 at 18:34

  7. This is a really interesting post, Antonio – both your thoughts and your photos capture much of what I’ve been feeling just lately in my own photography. I like your idea of detaching emotionally from the images after they’ve been taken; I will try to do this next time I’m editing a set. Recently a blogger commented on my photographic style, and until then I wasn’t fully aware that I had one. Of course, I WANT one, but it was a surprise that a stranger recognised it. Perhaps we are most blind to our own style, as we are often also our hardest critic.

    I really enjoyed your first photo, with the reflection (something I have wanted to do just this week); the footprints in the sand are a unique take on a familiar subject; and the last photo is a fascinating study, like something imagined or dreamed.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s superb.

    July 5, 2012 at 12:12

    • António Marques

      Thanks, Melanie.
      I’m coming to the conclusion that searching for a personal style in photography is a non-issue. It will emerge eventually, after 10.000 shots taken!
      In the meantime, it’s important to have fun.

      July 11, 2012 at 18:50

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