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Define Your Style

photograph via Rus Anson, found on my newest source of inspiration

This week I began a portfolio development class at my local college to help me prepare my work for the application process to Art Center (and some back ups). Our first assignment is all about defining our style and how we would describe ourselves or our work. When it came time to sit down in front of a blank Word document and explain my artistic ego I got a little stuck. Honestly I haven’t had to be this introspective about my photography in probably forever, especially not for an audience who is going to have some serious feedback (my professor intimidates me so much). I figured I’d share part of these “workbook assignments” (basically assignments designed to help us develop our portfolio workbook) with all of you and try to brainstorm here before I sit down in front of the almighty Microsoft Word and spill my guts. Who knows, you may be in the same spot I am in your journey and may need the same guidance I do. I hope I can help!

Assignment #1: DEFINE YOUR STYLE

What single source can you pinpoint that inspired you to become a photographer? Was it a print, a style, one image? Identify the component that struck a cord deep within you.

When I sat here and thought long and hard about what began my entire photographic journey I had a difficult time pinpointing one specific object or image. I got started because my dad showed me his SLR and how to use it (like a 5 min intro and then he basically just let me loose) and I just started experimenting. At that time I still had no idea who Ansel Adams or any other photographers were.

The first time I can remember taking pictures I was happy with and meant to give any artistic meaning to were the ones from our trip to Puerto Vallarta when I was 17 and had just started senior year of high school (when I started taking photo classes). I still remember 2 shots that I love to this day. One was of the view out of my plane window as we were landing for our layover in Tuscon, this being my first time past Carson City I thought the landscape in Arizona was so Mars-like I just had to capture a small rocky mountain range as we were landing. I’m not sure if my film got slightly exposed because of all the x-rays thru security or if it was just because the film was cheap, but the colors I got were amazing and so otherworldly, like accidental lomography. I guess you could chalk it up to good composition and a technological fluke. The other shot I loved so much I still have on my inspiration board is of a resort just north of Puerto Vallarta. After a long trip through seemingly nothingness you end up in this hilly windy road surrounded by trees and weeds and land in this secluded resort. After walking through a zoo, yes a zoo, and a water park you come to an infinity pool and a half cabana half resort restaurant overlooking nothing but blue ocean for miles. I took a shot of the walkway entrance right as you caught the first glimpse of water, its like you’re walking into paradise. If I had to name a print those would be them.

Describe yourself as a CREATIVE? Describe your personality, your work ethic, your humor, strengths, your attitudes, and the kind of images you enjoy making. What are your unique talents, conceptual abilities, and skills?

Though it may sound egotistical what draws me to photography isn’t necessarily about the photograph, its about how it makes ME feel, not anyone else. Maybe that’s why I don’t really like to photograph people, good, deep portraits require you to connect to the person on a way deeper level than most people realize, it requires an understanding that after years of trying I still have yet to master. I am generally slow to open up to people on a deep level and often have a hard time understanding others on a personal level, I guess I just have a hard time connecting to them and with my work its not about the people, its about me. (maybe this is why I like cemeteries or maybe its just my morbid curiosity lol) Throughout my work you can see my mood in which I shot something. Some are dark, some are innocent, some are adventurous, some just soak in the beauty and let you gaze (which is what I do when I’m around nature I just sit there and take it in). I guess you could call my work moody although most times its not very obvious what I’m feeling unless its dark or nostalgic. I guess its passion that drives me to photograph, so that I can express myself in the way words can’t. I’ve never been great with my words anyway. It’s only when I look back on why I do photography that I realize how self absorbed I sound, but if you found something that acted like natural therapy, wouldn’t you do it too?

Photography is the only thing that gets me to skip meals or skip sleep. It’s the only thing I’m proud of yet humble about when receiving compliments or criticisms. I’m always my own worst critic yet I’m able to give others detailed constructive critiques of their work. I love learning new technical hands-on type of skills in the darkroom and in the field and I guess my natural knack for science finds a home in this. I like seeing how far I can stretch the capabilities of film because I truly believe film still has a place in photography and not just for the art world. I thoroughly enjoy spreading my love of film and standing up to defend it whenever possible. I love experimenting and stepping out of my comfort zone and having the results be so perfect I can’t wait to show them to someone. I have so many ideas of what I want to shoot yet I’ve done maybe a handful of them and the rest I just shoot as I come across them because once again, my photos are ruled by my emotions and my general mood at that moment, and sometimes opportunity and impulse.

Who is your Audience? How would you characterize where you want to end up? In order for you to create an effective visual identity you need to first know what you want to say.

Right now I guess my immediate audience consists of my family, my readers- that’s you :) – and will soon consist of the admissions advisers at various art schools across California. Answering where I’d like to end up is difficult for me because I’m not quite sure on the specifics of that just yet, all I know is that I don’t want to wake up in 30 years and regret never perusing my love of photography full-time while I still had the chance. To put it bluntly, I want to eventually be paid to do what I love. I want to show off the beauty of the world and have my work hanging in galleries, on peoples laptops and smartphone cases/skins, and in their homes. I want to make people love the things I love through my photographs of the things I love – the beauty of decay, nature, life, and especially the beauty of death.

3 thoughts on “Define Your Style

  1. […] its about that time. My Portfolio Development class has now officially ended, today we had our final class and got to see what everyone has been […]

  2. To say that you’re not great with words is crazy…this is the only blog I read.

    “I want to make people love the things I love through my photographs of the things I love – the beauty of decay, nature, life, and especially the beauty of death.”

    I love this last sentence. Sums it all up, perfectly.

    1. thanks lora. i think i’m going to incorporate that statement into my new personal mission statement/manifesto

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