Personal Style-Listen to Your Heart

Photographers and artists often search for a “Personal Style”. This can be a source of angst and confusion as we attempt to create good work. We are naturally interested in our particular art form and have likely studied the great masters’ works. Most of us recognize a painting by Monet or van Gogh. As students of photography we can likely identify works by Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, Henri Cartier-Bresson or Ernst Haas. Whether we admit it or not, we want to create great photography too. We naturally feel we must establish some common theme or characteristic in our images which will make each one recognizable, ie: they will show our personal style.

Although there is disagreement in the art and photography world, I fall on the side of those who say you should not try to create photographs or art in any particular style. If you do that, it will likely short circuit your deepest source of inspiration. That source is your heart, your instinct, your gut. In other words, it is that which is deepest in you. Whether that emotion is light, dark or totally screwed up, make no mistake: if you want to tap into inspiration, listen to it.

How many times have you looked at an image and said, “Wow”, to yourself? You simply can’t take your eyes off it. You know you are reacting by “instinct”, or unconsciously. It makes you “feel” a certain way. The photographer has tapped into something deep within herself that your subconscious identifies with.

Take a look at your work. See if there are common themes. Do you shoot sunsets, people, or are you a generalist, like me? Which ones do you particularly like? If you look carefully and listen quietly, you will likely learn something profound about yourself. Your photography is speaking to you. There’s a fair chance you will see a common theme or aspect to your work. I didn’t see it in my pictures. A friend pointed it out. She said my photographs had a sense of peace or quiet to them.

As a practicing lawyer, my life can often be chaotic. My day is probably like yours. We manage interruptions, fight for time to think. We crave peace and quiet. We want out of the storm. That feeling, that instinct, has surfaced in my pictures in many ways. Not only do I shoot peaceful scenes, I love repeating lines and balanced geometry.

In the simplest terms, my mind is choosing images which make it feel better, which calm my internal storm.

It would be tempting to try to associate this theme into one subject, one type of photographs, such as black and white, or color, etc. etc.. Yet I see it surface, regardless of the format.

I have a print of this photograph hanging in my office. The print itself is 24 inches by 36 inches. I shot this one foggy morning at the large park area near the New Orleans Municipal Yacht Harbor. As dark as it is, it is very peaceful to me. Just looking at it brings me to a quiet place.

What brings you there? What do your photographs tell you about yourself, about what you need? If whatever that is appears magically in your work, rejoice. You tapped into that genius that is you, and only you.