Finding My Style

I’ve thinking a lot about my style.

I know worrying about my style is unnecessary energy. It’s more evidence Instagram is a problematic gift. I look at the work of photographers who may not be known—they probably aren’t exhibiting somewhere other than thousands of little screens—and I learn from what I envy about them. Their consistency, their confidence in breaking certain rules; their clarity of vision. I take little elements from their photos and I try them on for size.

Then I look at the grid, and I frown, because this is clearly right now the work of someone figuring out his style. Then, of course, I smile.

I know two things about my style. They’re kind of yin and yang.

  1. This I was told last December: You must learn to see what you like, so you can do more of it.
  2. This I’ve gleaned from 20+ years of writing poems, and 15+ years of designing things: Like all instincts, it gets here when it damn well wants.

I also know that style is slippery, paradoxical. As much as it brands, it traps. And then, to paraphrase Tom Waits, it’s time to renounce the piano. Pick up the flügelhorn, and learn all its particularities. I suppose for a photographer, that means confining yourself to a cell phone, or a point and shoot, or a pinhole camera. Or, as my friend Karen likes to do, hold the edge of a sheet of glass up to the lens and let your scene multiply in ways you can’t predict nor control.

My style will emerge many times, many ways. I’m fine with this. I’m just feeling impatient right now. I want the first of them to show up already, in a way I can see, so I can do more of it, or decide it’s time to walk away.

All this to say… I shot a lot of other things the day these were taken: alleyways, tree shadows, houses, an accessibility ramp, skyline buildings, and a silly parking sign. But, after culling, culling, editing, and culling, what was left was… mostly doors and windows. So here we are. Something pretty defined after all. Nice to meet you: Today, I’m the doors and windows guy.

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The author

I bring 11 years as a professional writer and designer, as well as my feminism, ecological philosophies, and editorial aesthetic to photography. When no one's looking, I bring my sense of humor, too.

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