I mentioned in my previous Post ("A Busy Month") that I had been working on a new series of Images which I had named "The Splintered". Well here it is finished. Again, I have taken a single source image and processed that image multiple times. I am so enjoying this approach, it really is a challenge and forces you to think harder about what is working and what isn't. As with my other series worked in this manner the images that I first discover as part of this process are the ones which haven't made the final cut, they have been discarded and are languishing on the metaphorical cutting room floor. Those that reveal themselves towards the end of the process are my favourites within the selection by quite a long way. This is something I didn't think would emerge as something to consider but having taken this approach a couple of times now it is definitely a common thread. Maybe we need to look beyond the obvious as a matter of course, easy said though.
Anyway, this series also started with an image of a window, a multiple exposure with colour shifts achieved by way of changes in the white balance. I am not sure what attracted me to this image as a starting point but it certainly proved to have been a good choice.
I made a conscious decision when processing this image to try and see if I could adopt a different style. I do like using colours, typically the more vibrant the better, but I wanted to try something different with this image and see if I could use colours in a more subtle or muted way. It wasn't easy! The images on the cutting room floor are definitely more vibrant than those that made the final set. It was a good challenge though and I am glad that I chose to box myself into a corner for a change.
So... the panel above is a bit different when compared to my prior images. Is that a good thing? Should we consciously look to develop a style running through our work? Or, is looking for, developing and sticking to a style a trap?
Is knowingly having a style a benefit or a curse?
When thinking about this my first thoughts were to ask what having a style actually means. The simplest description is to think about the reason why any artist within any genre becomes well known, that artist is doing something with their work that makes it so distinctive and recognisable that you know immediately that a particular piece is by that artist. So having a style is a good thing, right? Well yes, it must be, certainly if your art is the means by which you are able to put bread onto the table, it's fundamental.
So, how you get to the point whereby you have a style that is distinctive and recognisable. That's the tricky part of the process. After a little reading around the topic there seems to be some common thinking which certainly makes sense to me. Developing a style is not something that happens overnight, it can take years, decades even, to develop a form of making art which is distinctive to you. Artists with a particular style have a whole history of evolution which has allowed them to get to a point where they are recognisable. Those years are often not visible when viewing a piece of work where that style is evident. It is useful to me to think of all art made during those years as contributing to the big style-melting-pot, everything contributing and influencing in some way.
Whilst contributing to that melting pot it can feel that you are all over the place with what you are working on, with no direction or clear goals. Finding the positive, it is unlikely to be boring. How do you find the happy space to keep going and trying new things when there is pressure all around to be distinctive and consistent in the work that we produce. Pressure from Social Media certainly tries to push us in the direction of consistency, people 'like' us for work that we have completed so far and can sometimes 'unlike' us when we try new things or experiment. Should we care? I guess it's always worth remembering how long anyone following you actually looks at anything you produce, you will be lucky to get 4 or 5 seconds followed (maybe) by a click.
How do you find your style? The consensus seems to be not to force it and to let things evolve over time. With a mindset of being a Jack Of All Trades, to try everything you can think of, the worst that can happen is that you find some things you might not like but along the way you will have fun and might find something unexpected that makes you happy and keeps you engaged. So why should you shy away from being laser-focused in trying to develop a style, in simple terms, how do you then know what you might be good at, you are by definition limiting your creative options. It's the same with food, if you don’t try new things how do you know what you like or don’t like. If eating Spaghetti Bolognese every day makes you happy then great, for most of us though eating the same foods day in, day out will be drive us out of our minds, we need variety and to try new dishes to keep us happy and engaged.
For me, working on this image gallery and trying to take a different approach has been something I have thoroughly enjoyed. I am not sure what elements, if any, have ended up in my personal melting pot but maybe time will tell. I might try something else next time, not sure what yet but something will pop up…
I would love to know your thoughts on this.
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This totally resonates with me and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. During lockdown I have learned many new skills. It has been brilliant and I can’t wait to put everything into action. I am in awe of photographers that have a style, and you recognise their work immediately. How to achieve your own style ? I have explored so many different forms of creativity my poor brain is awash with so much information. I too have started to explore abstract and it certainly does raise the same questions with me as it has you. It is very new for me and it has opened my eyes ….. but where will it go ? So many questions …. and surprisingly it has also caused me revisit my I phone camera, that I had long ago dismissed as being inadequate. I can achieve creative images so easily using apps…. why do I need to slave over PS ? Hmmmm….
Hi Jane, Thank you so much for posting a comment… it’s really appreciated…
I found thinking about the whole concept of having a style absolutely fascinating. I love the idea of having a melting pot in the hope that at some point in the future something magical will emerge that will make sense of everything. I think your idea of reverting to something a bit simpler is a good one – it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by everything and I think we can just try too hard sometimes.
Anyway, thank you again and have fun with your phone…
I love these images. They feel like music to me. As a composer would create a lovely theme, and then transpose it to a number of variations, I think you have done that here visually. I wonder if you would ever want to write about some of the methods you use in creating the different variations of your starting image. As someone just starting to play with multiple exposures and processing in photoshop, it would be most interesting. I certainly understand if you would prefer not to do this. In any case, it’s wonderful to see your images. Thank you.
Thank you so much for getting in touch and for your lovely comments. In terms of the methods, not sure that would be particularly straight forward, I use a very tiny part of PS but I can be quite random when I get going so there isn’t really a write-downable approach or method. I do use the PS layers and blend modes extensively so if you are able to manage those then you are probably about 80% of the way there already. Never say never though, I may put pen to paper at some point once I come up for air 🙂
Anyway, thank you again for leaving such a lovely comment…
Linda, I am loving this panel… the color and how you created it using 1 file. I am now working with Valda and she keeps
mentioning with enthusiasm and a smile your work with 1 file.
I am not sure I like the word style any more – one’s art evolves over time, hopefully from an inner spirit, with different
stylistic characteristics. What I do know is that I love reading your blog as you offer your own thoughts and creativity
processes ……AND I love your work — all of it!!! Thinking back … did you begin this website only this spring? WOW!
Hi Edie, Really pleased you like the panel – not sure where the concept came from but I am pleased it came from somewhere! And yes, I have that course to thank 100% for the idea of working a single file – it’s absolutely something I would never have thought of. It’s given my archive of raw files a whole new lease of life too…
And yes, it was interesting to research the concept of having a style but having given it quite a bit of thought I think the best way forward to to absolutely not think about it ever again and just let what ever happens, happen. It’s quite refreshing really…
And as for the website, yes!! it’s only been around for a few months, I think I put it live not long after we came back from Rajastan… I am using it as a sort of anchor, the blog is good for me too as it makes me concentrate on what I’ve been doing and retain some focus…
Anyway, lovely to hear from you and enjoy the course 🙂
This is a superb set. I really like the themes running through the set. I think you have definitely developed a style of your own. Although this is not at all like your “F” panel, I think I can see some common themes even between that and this latest set. Keep up the good work!
Hi Patrick, I am really pleased you like the set… I am particularly pleased with them. I also quite like those that didn’t make the cut so it’s nice to have those in reserve too. And yes, very different to the F panel but that’s a good thing based on what I now think about having a style… it’s all gone into my melting pot and is influencing in some way or other (possibly! hopefully?).
And yes, on to the next set… going to make sure I don’t start with another window this time, I might try a door!!
Lovely work as ever. And as for having a style ….dare I mention the Helsinki Bus Station Theory? 🙂
It still the case that one person’s self-plagiarism is another person’s dogged determination to find their true voice. Or in other words, I’m as confused as everyone else xx
Hi Valda, Thank you for taking the time to post a comment – really pleased that you like the work… And no, I hadn’t heard of the Helsinki Bus Station Theory – have just looked it up and it’s brilliant! How lovely that the advice to just ‘stay on the f***ing bus’ is the conclusion – wholeheartedly agree and sounds like a good plan to me…
And yes, confusion is the default mode for me most of the time.. particularly now!.
Thank you again
I can’t believe this is the same Linda as the doubting soul who was turning to tapestry as a way of utilising her imagery. Your work is so full of confidence now as is your voice. Love the images. My only worry about consciously searching for a style is that it can lead to formulaic work. Only you know where your soul is at. Be selfish, do it all for YOU.
As and when photo travel happens again Doug & Valda should definitely take in Finland, just for the bus station in Helsinki!
Hi Hugh, I can’t thank you enough for your lovely comment… I do still do my tapestries but at a rate of about 1 a year that was never going to replace my photography in any serious way 🙂
And yes, I completely agree with you on the style point – I am quite excited about the prospect of not thinking about it at all ever again! It is something that has bothered me but after doing a little reading on the topic and very rapidly concluding that the more I think about it the worse it’s getting I am happy to just forget that I was ever concerned about it in the first place.
I had never heard of the Bus Station theory but completely agree – A BC trip there feels like the entirely appropriate thing to do – it would almost be rude not to…
Thanks again and take care