Do you allow photography trends to stifle your style, or does your personal passion, style and creativity prevail?
A well-known wedding photographer (who shall remain nameless) once berated me because I was, in his opinion, following the trends and overdoing the new and popular filter effects of the time. I walked away from our conversation feeling mortified and crushed. In short, incredibly defeated. Upon reflection, I realized he was indeed correct in many instances. Some of the images I was creating for my customers were over stylized and would not withstand the test of time. However, these trends are often popular and very much in demand. It is sometimes hard to stick to your guns when asked to create a certain look. Do you allow your artistic style to be compromised because of your clients’ specific requests?
I would suggest that unless your work is synonymous with a particular style, I would highly recommend catering somewhat to their suggestions, but make sure you add plenty of your own artistic vision into the mix. However, some demands can simply rub you the wrong way, and it is ok to say no! I think I can state without much dispute that there is one particular request that simply makes many photographers see red. Namely, trends that clients have found on other photographic websites or on social sites that they want you to copy. So, standing up for your particular style may lose you a few customers in the short term, but tenacity can prevail given time, allowing you to be true to your photographic vision and recognized for your talent.
In my opinion, there are a couple of photographic trends that I thought were amazing at the time, but have not really held up that well. Disclaimer! I am guilty of creating some of these images and will showcase them below.
- Coloring parts of your black and white image
- Photographs that disrupt the horizon
- Over processing the vintage look
Do you ever find yourself re-visiting your website and removing those images that reflect trends that really date your photographs? Generally speaking, the cleaner images do tend to stay in your portfolio longer. Other tips that come to mind are limiting the use of the highlight priority tool. The foggy feel used to feature on my website, but I have since removed most of these. Also, while my children were growing up, I became deeply ensconced in the world of senior photography and I fought hard with many clients to keep the completely unblemished images to a minimum.
Above all, make sure the photograph talks to you. If you want it to be commercially viable, you do need to be critical of your work, and maybe request the opinions of those friends who are happy to be honest with you (time to check the ego!) Take pictures people want to admire. Captured images should not require interpretation they should speak for themselves. Neal Rantoul recounts his opinion on this subject in an enthralling article featured in PetaPixel. I do agree that cameras are most certainly much simpler to use. Great photographs can be taken with only a minimum understanding of ISO; shutter speed and camera settings in general, but eventually the mechanics do need to be understood.
There are many simple plug-ins that allow you to edit your images quickly and efficiently. Plug-ins for use with Photoshop or Lightroom can be used as an artistic tool, allowing you to create your own recipes and layer your effects for all sorts of finished looks. The Nik collection is now offered as a free download, and I would highly recommend it. You can learn a simple edit, or explore the software to create some amazing visual effects. The secret is to use them wisely, and not become obsessed with one particular result.
When it comes to creating images that are just for me, I use all of the software products mentioned above, and enjoy playing with effects and layers. This is especially true when I am editing my IR images, or detail shots where I like to add a little artistic license.
I recently took senior portraits of my triplets (two girls and a boy) before they left for college, and I admit to enhancing the sunset to create a somewhat vintage look. My girls are extremely close and are now attending colleges in two different states. The candid image of them together means so much to me, and this is the essence of why we chose to be photographers. On a personal level, what pleases you is really all that matters.
I also had some fun with the DJI Inspire during the family photo-shoot!
In conclusion, one has to wonder why the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh were not popular during his lifetime. He was a unique painter, pushing the limits, who is now considered to be one of the most famous post impressionist artists of all time. I am sure we can name many popular artists and photographers of our time, but one has to wonder if they will stand up to the opinions of critics, or indeed the general public 100 years from now. Maybe our work will be discovered and we will be revered! It is worth contemplating what it is that constitutes an iconic photograph? I very much enjoyed reading an article by Evie Salmon entitled ‘what is iconic imagery?’ Who is to say what will be revered in the future, which should encourage all of us to keep persevering when it comes to our artistic vision. Don’t let those trends take over and stay true to your vision.