Do you have a style?
Do other people tell you they can recognize your 'handwriting' in your photographs? How much do you value that?
The other day I visited my parents. In their living room they have 2 large photos of mine hanging at the wall. Photos I took like 15 years ago with ICM (Intentional Camera Movement). And… they’re in color. Two things I hardly do any more.
For the last 10 years I primarily shoot in black and white. Why? Because I can. I like it. I’m not photographing to register what’s happening in front of my camera. I’m not photographing reality. What I shoot is my perception of reality. Not the truth, but the way I see it.
Writing this down reminds me of a quote by Saul Leiter, one of my favorite photographers, though he is also famous for his color work:
“My photographs are fragments of endless possibilities”
- Saul Leiter
Back to my parent’s house. My mother told me she’d like to have some new photos on her wall. I can imagine that as they’re there for a really long time. Still I do like them. I told her I can get her some new photos but only in black and white. She replies that she knows, and that she thinks my photographs are so bleak and dark. Well, I guess she’s right. For an outsider it might seem bleak and dark, and I’m aware of that, but to me it is not. It’s just that I’m attracted to photos with harsh contrast and deep blacks. You might call it my style. Or even better, not my style, but the style I photograph in. I know lots of people do it like this, so calling it my style might be a bit overdone.
The style that makes me so cheerful. It has nothing to do with being sombre or down. It’s just the visual style I’m attracted to. A few days ago I received Jacob Aue Sobol’s newest book James’ House and this is eyecandy to the max. Also visited Antwerp, Belgium this week to see Ikonen (Icons), the exhibition by Anton Corbijn (until 16/04/2023), so you can imagine this was my week. Not to forget the real reason for this trip, my 21-year wedding anniversary.
So the style in which I usually take my photographs. As you can see in the opening photo of this newsletter, it really looks like all these photos are taken by the same photographer. It might also look like this is one great body of work. Actually these are the series of the last projects I did. Looking at them it’s safe to say I do have a style, right? Not that it’s that important to have, but for me it works.
Small sidestep into music. Style can be a distinctive feature, but it’s never as significant as quality. Look at artists like David Bowie or Steven Wilson who reinvent themselves every album they make.
”Quality goes over Style
Pleasure goes above all”
- Marcel Borgstijn
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Till next time,
Every camera photographs reality. We're told by some "erudites" that's not correct. I read them since nearly forty years ago, and I littered most of their ideas. I agree with Leiter (My photographs are fragments of endless possibilities) that photographs are fragments of reality. And that fragmentation is one of the things that can make them interesting.