Let me just start with the truth: I don’t really know.
How’s that for expertise?
And it’s something that has probably been as challenging and frustrating for us, as it is for everyone else out there. It’s a lot like writing actually. Because you know somewhere deep inside of you, you can hear the sound of your own voice. Talking to you….reminding you of who you are. But it just keeps getting lost. Drowned out by a million other, usually much louder voices telling you what you ought to be. Reminding you of the rules. Pointing you toward the path much taken.
These voices can be very compelling. And why shouldn’t they be? After all, there’s a million of them and only one of you.
So you waiver. Falter. Adopt the tone of someone who has gone before you, because it worked for them so it might just work for you. Too.
And you drift. Lost in a sea of other people’s choices. A mirror reflection of their creations, not for your own lack of wanting to create mind you. But just because you don’t know how to see beyond the mirrors. When they are everywhere.
Yea, like I said. I don’t really know.
But I have to at least try. For my sake, and for yours. And because this might just go on record as the worst Pancake Session ever if I left it right there.
So here’s what I do know. I think finding your own style (photography, writing, or otherwise) really just comes down to recognizing the sound of your own voice. And training yourself to listen for it, even through the roar of the hurricane of other people’s ideas. Because the more that you listen for your own voice, the louder it becomes. The easier it is to hear and distinguish from all that’s happening around you. So if you really want to know if something feels like your style, just ask. And listen for yourself.
I’ve heard that with writing, a good case of writer’s block can be brought on by the author not really believing in what she’s writing. And much the same way, I’ve also heard that the more compelled you are to mess with a picture before posting it, the less it actually speaks to you. The more you were probably trying to force it to be something (or someone) else when you took it. Whereas the words that just flow easily, the pictures that just seem to fit….those are the ones that are closest to the truth. The ones that are closest to who you really are.
So finally, here’s my practical, hands-on, go home and do it advice. Sit down and go through the images that you’ve already taken. Whether you just picked up a camera and that’s just from last year or you have decades of time in your body of work. Just start going through them and give yourself no more than three seconds to make a gut reaction on whether they speak to you or not. Yes I know that some images really require you staring at them for a while to fully appreciate them, and some writer’s block should be pushed through. But this is just an exercise. So go with it. Three seconds. Does it feel like you or not? Yes or no. Move on. And then once you’re done, go back and look at the Yes’s. Now, what do they have in common? What things speak to you about the images that you find are talking a lot?
This is the beginning in a very long road to finding and defining your style. But it’s a start.
And be warned, you may very well want to resist what you find. We definitely did. I kept wanting our style to be softer, dreamier, full of lux-softy goodness. Or lighter, easy-breezy, more fashiony fun. But as it turns out, we’re just a little bit moody. :) Quieter. A little bitter-sweet. And for whatever reason, completely compelled to this Old Hollywood glam vibe that would make even Humphrey Bogart proud. And that’s ok. I’m slowly beginning to really appreciate that. Because that’s what we were created to bring to the table. Which is really good, because as it turns out there are already people much better than us at doing lux-softy goodness and fashiony fun. And each of you were created to bring something else too. And we’re all the better for it. Because if it weren’t that way, if we all just listened to voices around us instead of our own….
Then all we’d have is a bunch of people talking, but nobody really saying a thing.
**Our phenomenal album company, Couture Book, and the amazing Dave Leubke recently offered to create a sample of our work for some upcoming conferences. A kind of Greatest Hits from the past year. And because the deadline was so tight on it, it forced us to sit down and do pretty much the same exercise I talked about above. So I can tell you from experience that it works! A HUGE thanks to Dave and the crew at Couture Book for being so awesome and for everything they do!!