As a boy, when I started photographing and long before becoming a wedding photographer, I hear that every photographer has to find his own personal style. His way and not being influenced by his surroundings. Even today, if we attend workshops or training courses, this advice is not lacking and not even missing in the more or less serious chatter that you make between colleagues.
But does it really mean that?
It’s not really easy to deal with this issue because it conflicts with a number of factors, first of all the enjoy of customers that vary depending on the trend of the moment. It is now 10 years that I work full time wedding photography and I saw the change in trends also very obvious way. If the trends change, at least in part, it means that changes the way the style of photographers. This is a truism otherwise would mean that every two or three years there should be a change of generations.
It is true that the wedding photographers there are many but not enough to give this kind of turnover. So their style is something that varies depending on the trends of the moment? It could be, but the difference could also be due within a few “stakes” that make us not inconsistent.
For personal style does not mean the main lines in which each of us is channeled or time shifts: reportage, fashion, vintage, etc. etc. but I speak just a personal view of photography. This vision includes everything related to the photograph to 360 °. By cutting the frame, the type of equipment chosen for shooting to post production and presentation of the finished work.
In other areas, the “hand” of the photographer is very important and also very recognizable. Take the case of Giovanni Gastel for fashion: his approach to fashion photography with pictorial contamination is very clear and recognizable as Sebastiao Salgado in the context of the reportage and of the black and white has a very strong personality!
This happens even in wedding photography?
I think so, but as wedding photography is a very diverse and widespread area, it is difficult to identify the niches and in these niches that give the photographers something very recognizable. The difficulty encountered in wedding photography is that the photographer is not really totally free to express themselves, must always reach a compromise with the client. Just this favor takes photographers to resemble more and more and thus lose their personality away from the main road. I do not think that this is the absolute evil, it is not serious resemble other than a convenient way to reduce the efforts, since this would inevitably lead to lower quality.
Of course, the goal of many of us is just to be selected for our uniqueness and style we offer. But then we are conditioned by the fact that living in this work, we are forced to make certain numbers, and we can not afford to work exclusively for the niche market that we like. All this is absolutely not a lack of respect towards customers, indeed, it is an opening to the understanding of customer needs, bending (within reason) our natural inclinations to the benefit of the customer’s enjoys.
But I think that the right relationship with the customer is what “love at first sight”, the ideal client is the one who like our style as it is, only this alchemy will give satisfaction to both and most likely will be the best work we produce.
My goal is just that, get to express myself in more and more “personal way” leaving aside the tendencies to reach the niche market (a term I hate because the customers are people with soul, heart and brain, not a statistical segments) best suited to my true way of being. This blog also do this, tell what I like and how I like to interpret it to get people who have my own tastes.
As for my style I admit that it is not so recognizable and obvious, but it has its own peculiarities. It is the fusion of reportage and fashion where the reportage is very delicate and tries to tell the moments with sensitivity and grace while the fashion looks for beauty using the technique flawlessly, both during shooting and in the following stages. The report is not a pure reportage as well as the fashion is not a pure fashion! I’m not ashamed to say that sometimes the beautiful scene is staged even if it seems “stolen.” It will be almost impossible to find in my portfolio images “dirty”: moved, inaccurate focusing, blacks closed, incorrect dominants of color and faces “maked ugly” by postproduction. Besides the shots are done by choosing the target adapted to the scene always avoiding deformation of the persons and / or cuts unlikely. Well, perhaps the search for this extreme cleanliness in the pictures makes me less recognizable but not devoid of personal style. Just at a time when the trend is just one step towards less technical and more dirt, I continue to propose to those who like the glossy tale.
Naturally, the wedding photographer, as well as the artists, a certain evolution and so it is not strange to find the style changes. Years ago I too liked to shoot with different lens from now and I interpreted the reportage in more tough way, tried to be always in the scene to live it together to subjects. By the time I found out I prefer to be discreet narrator, approaching the scene without being part of it, always staying at my place.
Also research and study contribute to the evolution of wedding photographer. And how could it not be so. The love and passion for this profession brings us to experience new things and to study hard. The tools available to us are constantly updated and it is important to know them thoroughly, maybe that detail we were looking for with the new update is obtainable. But also refresher training in different fields than wedding photography is very important. Sometimes getting away from the things that you do every day allows us to see them from a different perspective and this can make us grow. Invest on their own culture and their own skills is tiring and can sometimes seem unnecessary but eventually will reward.