About Me

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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Discovering your photographic style

A common piece of advice for aspiring photographers is to find your own photographic style. Something that makes your work different from other people's. It's something that as a professional I obviously think about a bit because having an edge on the competition is always a good thing.

But I quickly came to the conclusion that photographic style was more likely something that was going to find me, as opposed to me actively searching for it.

In a nutshell it is how you see the world. What captures your eye in the first place and leads you to take a photo. Looking through my images (and there's a slideshow just to the right of this post of all the images I've posted so far) you can notice a constantly recurring theme - bold, bright colours.

Although I dabbled a bit with black and white when I was a kid I quickly discovered that I really do see the world in technicolour. It drives my photography and to a large extent dictates what I do and don't photograph. Needless to say the electronics district of Tokyo, known as Akihabara, is a luminous photographer's heaven.

But there are some things you have to be careful of. One of the main ones is not to go too overboard with a frame full of messy colour but to have something to break it up a bit - to give the eye a bit of a rest.

In this photograph of an otherwise unspectacular staircase the break for the senses is the poster in the bottom left hand corner. (No honey I didn't realise it was my favourite Japanese actress when I took the shot! Honestly) By having a tiny part of the picture that isn't screaming yellow, orange or green you get a bit of a rest from the onslaught.

The other break is the people at the top of the staircase. Leading lines, such as staircases, are an often used compositional tool in photography. You see them everywhere, but you often see them leading nowhere as well. I like to have my lines actually leading the eye to something to see - as opposed to just a blank space. So I framed the picture so that you could see the people in the top of the frame.

Ideally I would have liked the people to be a bit more side on to the camera but seeing as they weren't the main focus of the picture I decided not to wait until they moved but to continue on down the road looking for other compositions.

The more I photograph the more I realise that I am led towards bright, luscious colours. That's probably why I loved Velvia when I shot slide film, and why I love the Landscape setting on the digital camera. Photographic vision isn't necessarily something you have to actively put on yourself. Don't try and squeeze a round peg into a square hole (or is that the other way around?) Your vision will find you. You'll naturally be drawn towards certain focal length lenses, certain colour palettes and ways of seeing. The more you photograph the more it will become clear and pretty soon you'll be creating images that will be recognisably yours.

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