Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Static and Dynamic Styles

A photographer's personal style may become noticeable rather quickly or take quite a while to become evident. An identifiable personal style doesn't often begin showing up in a photographer's work until that photographer starts pursuing photography with some seriousness.

For some, their style is purposely and creatively conceived. I suppose you could call those shooters photographers with a "premeditated style." For others, possibly the majority of shooters, style evolves on its own, often influenced by the work of other photographers. It's not, of course, simply one or the other. Whether a photographer's style is by design or purely evolutionary are matters of degree.

For the most part, leastwise in terms of my glamour photography, I'd say I fall into the first category: I believe I have a personal style that is mostly by design and, to a lesser degree, evolutionary. I should mention that the by design part of the development of my personal style wasn't something I came up with purely on my own. As I got more and more into shooting glamour, I designed my style around elements that potential clients were looking for, style-wise.

There are many elements which contribute to a photographer's personal style: Things like lighting, composition, environment, attitudes and emotions (coming from the subjects) and more. These are all identifiable elements of what might be considered a photographer's personal style.

Often, there are 3rd party elements or outside contributors or factors influencing a shooter's style. Take me, for instance. The development of my glamour photography style was certainly influenced, to a large degree, by my clients. My clients' expectations, style-wise, contributed in big ways to the development of my glam-shooting style. After all, they're the people who pay me to shoot and they have expectations, style-wise, for the pictures they hire me to shoot. I don't experiment with new styles, not in major ways, when I'm shooting on their dimes. Doing so is reserved for my personal work, not my paid work.

In a perfect world, the paid artist or craftsman might be free to pursue whatever sorts of newly conceived stylistic approaches they might imagine. In our imperfect world, however, it doesn't often work that way. Clients are employers, albeit temporary employers. As a rule, they are not patrons of the arts willing underwrite a photographer's creative whims. They may not verbalize it that way but they mostly hire photographers for their static style, not some dynamic style that may be wildly different from one shoot to the next. Sure, I suppose there are still a few folks who offer financial patronage and carte blanche artistic freedom to those they patronize. Unfortunately, I've never met one of those people and don't expect I ever will.

What all of this means is this: Once a photographer, leastwise one who shoots for pay, establishes a style -- something that becomes a big part of why clients hire them to shoot -- those clients expect results which are similar to what they've already seen of the photographer's work. I'm not saying they always want the exact same, although more than a few of them do, but they want work that looks similar to the photographer's work they've already viewed.

It's been my experience that, even when a client tells you they want vague and difficult to define things like "creative" and "edgy" -- in other words, they seem to be saying they want you to deviate, in big ways, from your established style -- they don't really want too creative or too edgy. They don't want images that are truly different from what you've shot before. You see, what they want is what they've already seen but just a bit different, perhaps with a different twist. You give them truly creative and edgy (like they may have asked for) and you're risking not getting paid or not being hired again by that client. Course, if you manage to shoot way outside your normal style and still hit home runs with more than a few of the images, that's another story. I suppose that sometimes happens. More often than not, it doesn't.

The pretty girl at the top is Nikki.

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