Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Working on a personal style . . .

Rebecca Crowell is a painter with a blog. What does that have to do with us as photographers? It’s all art. It’s all creativity. And concepts regarding painting are often valid as well for photographers.

Link to Rebecca Crowell’s blog: http://rebeccacrowellart.blogspot.com/

For instance, does your photographic work have an underlying theme to it, or is it all over the place? You go out to shoot and you return with a photo of the neighbor’s cat, a tulip, a crow on a wire, a swing set, and a birdbath.

What’s your theme? What’s your underlying idea? What are you communicating?

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe variety, seeing, recording in a haphazard manner is your joy. If so, then go with it and exult in your ability to do so.

But sometimes we want more. We want discipline, boundaries, a project. Maybe we want to put together a book. Maybe we want a gallery showing. Maybe we want to create a photo essay. Maybe we want to work on a style.

Rebecca Crowell, in a recent blog post, said, “As an instructor I work with many artists who are on the path to finding a personal style, and who struggle with (to quote the singer Joni Mitchell), ‘the crazy you get from too much choice.’ "

For painters there are so many choices: oil, watercolors, acrylics, mixed media, abstracts, color combinations, portraiture, Impressionism, boldness, softness, etc.

For us photographers there’s color, black & white, monochromes, portraiture, close-up, photomontage, painterly effects, bird photography, sports, abstracts, sweeps, swoops, and swipes, color combinations, etc.

What the heck do we want to do? Well, whether you’re a photographer or a painter, the answer might be to narrow your focus, as Ms. Crowell says, “. . . what helps a lot of people is to focus down, to set parameters, create in series with defined boundaries, and in the beginning take one step at a time.”

Remember my “Parts is Parts” class? The focus was incredibly narrow. Create ten good photos of one thing. And so we saw lovely photo essays of subjects such as an oak table, a guitar, a parasol, a piano, an old camera, even a power saw. We focused. We looked — really looked. We experimented. We had boundaries. We created art.

We’re all into photography for various reasons. But if we wish to create a solid, cohesive body of work, we often need the discipline of narrowing our view, concentrating on one thing at a time, setting limits and making this a project, a goal. Once done, then what’s your next project?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

©Carol Leigh


  1. It's a quandary. As an artist anything unusual or interesting is a photo opportunity. As a photographer I guess it's best to stay focussed (no pun intended). I have various series of doors, signs, or abstract photos.

  2. Rebecca's got some good following of people, and right on with all your sharing Carol...I've heard art is easy but it really isn't when you thinking about all the choices we get to make....but limits and boundaries are still needed to help us.

  3. If you can take a nail and bang your art up on a wall and have people enjoy it, it is 'art'. If, on the other hand, you need a group of similar images, usually with a set/unique technique and a 'story' then, it is 'artistic'. Not art! ;If however any one of your set can go on it's own then it too is 'art'...

    Many too many Doctor's wives have started galleries and become patrons to 'found' artists who can come up with a process (sometimes good, sometimes a gimmick) and a great story to sell the package... All very artistic! And the Doctor's wife's friends all stand around and are so very 'artistic' and even purchase something from their friend... But... is it art? Can you bang them onto the wall individually where people enjoy that one image as 'art'...

    I do truly enjoy Carol's images because, though she has many different techniques, each stands alone as "ART"! She has a tremendous 'eye' and such a creative talent to match!!! And... that's why I keep coming back to see her work!


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