Jul 262009
 

Should I ever be tempted to adopt this image’s post-processing as a “style”, I’d really have to re-engineer what I’ve done. This was a very experimental 20 layer job, and actually I like it pretty well.

Speaking of “styles”, you know it won’t happen. I always say “style is for the dead”, meaning that the style of an artist is normally ever evolving, and only when we’re dead, posterity can finally shelf us under a certain style.

But maybe we should look deeper and ask what a style is? We often hear processing methods (like what I currently experiment with) called styles. Thus I could speak of my “Orange Tinted B&W Style” or could call what I’ve just done with the image of Villach’s train station a style. Superficially it seems so and many people use “style” in just that way. The viewers do it and many artists do it as well, and interestingly enough, many artists even stick to their “style”. It’s something that I don’t understand and much less desire. For me that is not style but only technique, craft. It’s just like a garment. Some images wear this and some wear that, and it may make sense in its context, but all the time?

And then there is the other form of style that I don’t get: ever recurring content. I remember when in the early days of this blog I had a conversation with Ted Byrne. We talked about blogging and continuity, and I told him of a blog that brought one image of a piece of litter on the street per day. One piece of litter a day, every day, all photographed by the same person. An incredible exercise in perseverance, as at that time, that blog had already over 1000 posts.

Ted was shocked. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was something like “waste of time” and “what a poor life”. I have no idea if this blog still exists, and I don’t mean to ridicule it, but for me this is just a good example for this second kind of “style”. I simply can’t understand why people do it. For me, it would drain all the fun out of it. What can possibly be interesting in 1000 or 2000 scraps of paper?

So, if my definition of style does not mean ever recurring post-processing methods and does not mean ever recurring content, what the heck does it mean?

Well, I can only talk of myself, but I am quite sure I have a certain style to work with lines, especially lines that go in corners. I also may have a certain characteristic way to feel balance, and these are things that are pretty independent of what combination of filters I currently use, whether I work in B&W or color, or whether I do landscapes or street photography. These things recur, because they are important to me, they are a part of my visual value system. These are things that feel “right” to me.

How do you feel about style? Do my ideas ring true to you? Am I completely wrong? And if so, why?

The Song of the Day is “Meet Me At The Station” from the compilation of live songs “The Live Adventures of the Waterboys”. See a video on YouTube.

  7 Responses to “1017 – Meet Me At The Station”

  1. My friend Reed Dixon is an artist who works in mixed media – mostly. His fine art work is immediately recognizable as his. Not as a matter of content, or media… but as a matter of execution. I asked him once when he settled upon a style… He seemed genuinely puzzled, "What style?" he wondered. And since I could not put into words the elements which clearly differentiate him from others – I let it drop.

    My friend Joe is a jazz pianist. Give me two minutes of tape, and I will pick him out of any number of samples. Is it safe to say that any three random movie stars are instantly recognizable regardless of how different the roles they are challenged by might be? There is a reason why we look forward to new Hamlets with each new generation. What about playwrights? I can tell Tennessee Williams from Edward Albee and both of them from Beckett.

    Don't even start me on composers, sculptors, novelists, poets,directors, or dancers. Hmmmm… so you argue that art photography is the only ART… the only one… where an artist's voice cannot grow sufficiently ideosincratic to communicate ideas/feelings valuably?

    Okay… I understand that there are photographers who have settled on a topic within genre … or who have finalized on a palette or technique that characterizes their work. But that assumes that style is mechanical (or defined by a phylum). Something that is NOT true of the unique voices of artistic COMMUNICATION in every other field of creativity.

    If it is true it questions, I think, whether photography is an art form or in reality little more than a craft. Except there are craftspersons who are defined by style. Is photography even less than that?

    It's a puzzlement, this corner you have pained yourself into here.

    Um… surprise… we do disagree here… Heh heh heh….

  2. Developing a style was once important to me as I thought I could pick the style of the photographers who's work I admired. I thought that to become good at this art form, to become recognized, it was necessary to have a style. But as I became happier with my images I came to the realization that I was not or ever would be an artist and that I did not need recognition. At that point I was no longer able to define style even though I was sure that at some point I had defined it. After all I could still pick certain photographer's images from a lineup but as Ted above mentions, I cannot put into words that which differentiates one photographer's images from another.
    Once upon a time I used to take full credit for my own work and it was then that the concept of style seemed important. These days I simply feel fortunate that wonderful images present themselves to me. Less and less do I feel like I had anything to do with it other then to be in the right place at the right time.
    As I said, I am no artist but I suspect that those who are, those people we admire would never stop to consider the question of style. Perhaps they do what they do because they are fated to do it.

  3. I am not sure about style or my style, but I sure know what I like and that I guess is style in some ways.

    I like the bleeding and images chosen to get the effect with the train at the station. Very well done.

    Niels

  4. "Style", I think, is a lot like "personality". Saying that someone has a style (or a personality) is the easy part. Defining or describing it is something else.

    As Ted says, we can often make a good guess as to the "author" of a work (whatever the art form) by looking at it or hearing it or reading it or whatever. There are always clues. No two people do anything exactly the same way. There are always detectable differences and it is those differences that allow us to say that this particular work was probably done by so and so.

    I agree with those who say that style is something that we should NOT be concerned with (it sounds like Andreas and Cedric both lean in this direction). Let someone else worry about it. "Style" is a mental construct that can only impede or hinder creativity. A style is nothing more than a self imposed rule of behavior. And who the heck needs that?

  5. Something for the psychologist, why style often can be related to life situation and personality. Style changes if you changes, in my opinion. For those who never change style, there is no hope. It has become a habit, in some difficult cases even an obsession. 🙂

  6. It helps to come late to these topics, as everyone has clearly expressed thoughts on style and I find myself agreeing with which ever one I'm reading. There is truth in all points of view. Perhaps style is a longer view, maybe in 50 or 100 years when digital photography has morphed into something completely different people will look at our images and say that's an "Andreas" or a "Ted" because the work was excellent and has survived as lesser work did not. So maybe style has more to do with creative excellence than good repetition.

  7. This just looks like hecticness to me… if that is a word

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.