My Style 2 / Feeling Inspired

I’m feeling inspired to write again. I need to do this more often.


After my going to the Analogue/Digital Conference this year and visiting the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Brisbane for the first time today, I have deeply reflected on myself and my art after seeing some amazing people and pieces.

I finally think I have a photographic style. It is not a very distinct style, which is annoying, as that would make it memorable.

I am left feeling inspired and wondering what will come next for me.

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Here’s what I now know about my style.

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I like bright! I call this the “professional shine” you see it all professional images. It involves including tones from 100% black to 100% white in an image. Once I realised this, my photography looked twice as good overnight. I think bright images are much more striking to the eye, they catch your attention. I wish someone showed me this years ago, as it is so easy to learn, just it isn’t conciouslly known by many.

Everything has its place. Nothing is out of position, or if it is, it’s meant to be. I take such care to pose and fill the frame, removing and altering the smallest details.

In line with that last point, I do not have ambiguity. Nothing is left to the imagination, as everything is posed…

…Perfectly; I strive for professionalism perfection. This stems from always having to prove myself to my parents and every client and friend; to prove I am good, no…, that I am great at what I do, and to prove that photography is worth a shit. Everything must look deliberate and flawless. 

Everything is black and white, right or wrong. I avoid cliches. I avoid digital errors, such as chromatic aberration, murky midtones, and anything that is a product of digital cameras that shows amateurism. I am quite critical of others work. If I see any common Photoshop or photography faux pas I often scoff.

I like movement. I just realised I really like movement, I want all my images to feel like something is happening, even my landscapes.

My photos must be able to stand on their own legs. What I mean by this is I’ve shot for the Internet, where people only look at an image for a second and move on. This meant I made sure each image was striking to make that one second feel like it lasts longer. Through my university studies, I had a lecturer who’s style was a polar opposite of this. He taught me how a image can be strong in a series, and help tell a story better. This has partially changed my style. Evidence of this is “Vertigo”. I have also stopped posting to Deviantart and 500px (which were vital at the point of where I was but are no longer necessary) which has assisted in this change.

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I think its taken me so long to realise this as it required me to get to such a skill level to be able to see this. I am now able to shoot and edit so well that these traits are emerging. It’s over 10 years now since I started all this, and I have no shame in thinking that I am very good at what I do (as should anyone who’s done something for a over a decade). I can look at an image and dissect it instantly, technically (photographically and post processing wise) and conceptually. That is not to say I am a master; one is always improving. I am not yet world class, but I am the closest I have ever been.

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Hold on… I think you’re right

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Almost exactly a year ago, I was on some shooting outings with a friend. She was a hobbyist photographer, and I was very business orientated in my thinking at the time. She was embrassed that her images were not “good enough”. She said she was just having fun. I said that is the point and I don’t care how good they are. I then realised my strive for perfection was removing the fun from photography for me. I was not allowing myself to make mistakes. If it wasn’t flawless I wasn’t taking a photo. This style of working was stressing me out; I have since changed.

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After seeing Cindy Sherman’s work at GoMA, which has so many deliberte kitch cliques and bare bones basic default Photoshop effects, it made me take a step back. The effects got her point across very well, be it in a deliberately hideous way. I want to try not being “flawless”.

After listening to so many amazing people at Analouge/Digital Design Confference, I felt so restricted from photography, and that feeling hasn’t left after six months later. They were all doing so much cool shit with design that I could never dream of doing with photography, which has to start with an image. I want to break away from photography a bit and try something else. I’ve always wanted to draw, paint or play an instrument, so maybe that’s it.

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A New Chapter

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Now I really badly want to try something brand new again. Live music was my latest venture, after a year I want something new again. Portraiture and band photoshoots would be fun, and I shoud do more, but that’s enough. 

I want to try something mixed media. This means I can be unrestricted and dip my toes in desgin but not drown. To stick to something I am familiar with but go somewhere new.

I’ve been experimenting with blurred movement. Something will come from this; I’m sure of it.

I am very slowly allowing myself to make mistakes again. The last time I made mistakes was because I was shit. I am finding this very hard to do, to think outside my own box.

I want some arty series, something that is more artsy than it is photographic.

I am still working on my photo business (Kalem Horn Photo). It is on the backburner for now as I have a new job in warehousing (which I despertly needed as I ran out of money). That is still the long term goal; to live off my work.

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When I Grow Up…

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I always wanted to become a foreign photojournalist or travel photograper; travel the world, take photos and get paid, that isn’t a job (at least it feels that way to me). I still want that, but I have strayed far from that path I was once glued to. I then think of Olan Rogers’s video who said to chase your dream(s) but do whatever makes you happy. I try not to think about this as I do not know what to do or which path to take in life now that I have finished schooling; overwhelming oppurtunity (to quote a friend).

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I am very thankfull for my family and friends who have helped me improve.


Is Procrastination a Good Thing?

Last week I went to The Design Conference in Brisbane, Australia. Kitiya Palaskas said that she doesn’t mind that she heavily procrastinates, as it’s part of her process. This resonated with me as I procrastinate a-lot. Procrastinating effects most aspects of my life, but right now I am only focusing on it in terms of my media. It got me thinking, is procrastinating assisting in my editing process, or do I just want to use it badly as an excuse?

I was always under the impression that my procrastination was a weakness. Since high-school I’ve been handing things in last minute.* I was told by my parents and teachers that it is a bad habit and I should learn better self-discipline. They said I would fail university if I kept it up. Once I got to university, nothing changed, and somehow, I maintained a credit plus average on completion.

If I am not working to a deadline, I take a long time to edit my photos. A single, individual photo (in a large set) may take an hour to edit, but that hour may be spread over a whole week. As I scan across the set many times, I slowly tweak the photo, maybe -0.1EV in exposure, maybe a spot heal here and there. 

I always presumed that If I was better at focusing on work I could achieve the same result in half the time (important if I want to run my own photography business; time is money). Days may pass without me editing, in that time I would have thought of more ideas and techniques to apply to the images. So does that mean procrastinating is actually assisting in my editing?

There are times I have had to edit for many hours on end; I would still achieve my own standard. When I look back on finished images, I do not notice a difference in the ‘procrastinated’ and ‘focused’ images.

I will keep thinking about this, but for now I think I will attempt to moderate my procrastination, hit a middle ground, until I can understand how important it is to my process.


*Note: In a WORK situation, I am quite punctual, this is only in terms of my personal media.


My Style

My photographic style has been something that has always eluded me. I have always felt that I don’t have one. I watched other photographers, on my level and professional, that had very established styles and I wanted my own. I figured it would just develop over time; 5 years later, I’m starting to doubt that.

It is impossible for me to look at this from a objective standpoint. I can step back from my photographs, but they will still be mine and I can’t view them as an outsider, this makes it hard to see my own style. I would say that I like a-lot of colour, I rarely do BnW. I recently discovered having a full tonal range (from 100% black to 100% white) makes images pop and give a professional shine. I wish someone told me that years ago, I feel it’s one of the secrets to photography. 

I’ve also shot what’s in front of me. Landscapes, exterior architecture. I also shoot long exposure as I think its fun, unexpected and an unexplored field. I’m now getting into more people photography. 

I shoot disregarding the rule of thirds; I may follow it at times, but it is by chance. Though rule of thirds is a valuable learning tool, pushing novice photographers in the right direction, it must be dropped once the photographer is experienced, to stop it restricting the creative mind. It pushes people into making the same composition over and over.

I carefully watch of empty space. This is something that keeps working well in making a strong photograph. I make sure my eye doesn’t get stuck in an image. 

Something I noticed after doing a installation at university was how I shoot for a contemporary context. Throughout the pioneering days of photography, photographers were highly trained and admired people. A photograph took hours to produce a print. Photographs would often be looked at for more than a few seconds by the end user. Now, in the digital age, where a photo can be developed in seconds with a common smart-phone, an image may only be viewed for a single second. 

Traditional photographs were often in a series. I shoot individually, rather revisiting a spot or identical concept. Perhaps this is why my photographs seems so disjointed from each-other, and don’t create a style. I’ve learnt a-lot about shooting in a series in the last few months and that will effect my future photographs. 

I am still pushing forward, trying to create some sort of style but I’m not sure which direction to head. I wanted to put my thoughts down on paper, so I can look back, figured I’d put it here. 


Kalem

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