A question of style.
Sitting around with a group of non-photography friends the other day one of them all of a sudden asked me why I posted a “‘normal” colour photo of them on Facebook. I thought it was a weird fucking question, considering the photo was just taken while they were just standing in a stairwell after playing a local gig. I took a photo with a small camera I had and one with my phone. I posted the one with my phone as I thought it would be something they would like more considering it was more “normal” as he said.
“No man, when I saw the photo you posted I was like, what the fuck? Looks like the same photos I always see. I was disappointed man.”
I thought this was funny. All artists in one form or another the conversation quickly morphed into talking about styles and the importance of having your own.
“I think I’m going to go a different way with my photos. More naturally documentary style..”
I said this without thinking. I had taken some photos the day before of my friend’s band. The photos I took were quite normal, moody lighting and in colour. Photojournalist style, I suppose you could say. I wasn’t really sure if I liked them or not, but somehow I felt like they would be more appealing than high contrast, compact camera, flash, exposure compensation tweaked, monochrome stuff I usually do.
Another friend (pictured) stopped me as I was explaining my idea to become a little more “run of the mill” and just said,
“But, if you look at the famous guys, the Magnum guys…”
“You live in Korea where every photographer is famous only for their ability to be able to copy any style they see. They, for the most part, have NO voice of their own. You have your own voice, or at least I thought you fucking did.”
I didn’t get another word in for a while. What was meant to be a coffee to talk about plans for a concert the following week turned into an intervention. My own intervention.
In the end, what I took out of the 2 hour long conversation was the importance of not necessarily following the crowd, but following your gut. The point that in particularly struck me the most was when the guy that had been with me during the shoot the day before said,
“Yesterday, you looked quite different when you were shooting. Usually, with the small cameras you look as though you’re shooting with your heart. Yesterday, you looked like you were trying to shoot with your brain. That’s not you man, not at all.”