There are artists out there who have a distinctive style and can churn out fabulous pictures on an almost weekly basis. Unfortunately I’m not one of them. While some of my supporters say they can tell a ‘Jo’ picture, I don’t feel I have a personal style and I certainly don’t have a formula which I follow to create my images – life would be so much easier if I did!
Some photographers stick to taking pictures of a specific subject, eg music gigs, ballerinas or horses, or colour grade their images in a distinctive way, eg Brooke Shaden always adds a strong yellow cast to her photos, as it apparently helps buyers to know what to expect from their pictures and helps their ‘brand’. But I get bored in a nano second and if I felt pressured into making pictures to a prescriptive style it would be the death knell for my photography. I just take pictures of whatever I want and edit in a way which suits that particular image. I’m probably doing myself no favours when it comes to selling my art, but we all have to do what’s right for us personally and, as we’re all unique, what works for someone else may not work for me.
Having said all that, I usually find myself drawn back to photographing nature and wildlife. I’m happiest in my wellies sat on a muddy riverbank, or wading through tick infested undergrowth chasing Dragonflies, but find that when I get the images back home and on my laptop I have a need to add my own artistic vision to the picture. Nine times out of ten the resulting image is rubbish and ends up in the delete bin, or is such hard work to get right I lose interest, but now and again a picture simply clicks and I get that little tinge of excitement in the pit of my stomach at realizing I’m on to a winner.
All of my most successful images have come together effortlessly. They’ve taken the least time to create and have caused me the least headaches. This image called Beauty & The Beast took just an hour to edit and I knew from the get go I was going to love it. I didn’t have to agonize over which sky or background to add and I spent zero time adding colour or tone. It just spoke to me and I felt a connection to the picture from the start.
If your photography is difficult, hard work and/or you’re not enjoying the process, try a different tack. Think about the times, maybe even as a child, when you were at your most absorbed and content. I’ve always loved art and spent hours and hours colouring in as a kid. Note I didn’t say I spent hours drawing or painting – I didn’t like either and was rubbish at both – but I loved to colour in! When computers came along I was naturally drawn to software like Microsoft Publisher on which I could create marketing literature, adverts or newsletters. I liked being the person to place items on a page in a way which was aesthetically pleasing to me, which is basically what a composite image is.
Advice can be useful but doesn’t have to be followed. All the most successful artists throughout history tore up the rule book and simply did their own thing. Don’t worry about what other people are doing and don’t try to emulate someone else’s passion. You need to walk your own path and find a way of working which makes your heart sing.
When you do what you love, you’ll love what you do!