I recently passed the year mark in my blogging ‘career’. Although it’s no big deal to anyone else, I congratulated myself on the fact that I have kept going, even when I thought I was only talking to myself, and that I still enjoy posting my blogs. At this juncture I realise that the success of my blog is not measured by the number of people who ‘like’, read or comment on my blog, although those are always lovely bonuses. Rather, I measure success by the fact that I enjoy blogging and that it helps me to order both my thoughts and my photography. Without the blog I would have hundreds of random images without any apparent structure, but the demands of producing a blog post every 2-3 weeks means that I need to arrange my photographs into relevant themes, and even reorder them when necessary for another blog topic. Blogging provides a sense of purpose to my photography and gives me the encouragement to keep improving.
During the year I have enjoyed being part of the blogging community and have discovered some amazingly passionate bloggers whose blogs I enjoy immensely. I have joined some social media photography communities which has given me an idea of what is going on in the world of photography, although some of these groups are better than others. I tend to know immediately if I like the ‘feel' of a group and that decides whether I stay or not. The last thing I need is to compare myself unfavourably to others or to become disheartened because my efforts are criticized harshly (it has happened!). On the other hand there are some very supportive groups, and these have often provided valuable and useful information and links to follow.
Finding my ’niche’
One question that I have been asked numerous times by those who know I have rekindled my interest in photography, and one to which I do not appear to have a satisfactory answer, is, ‘what type of photography do you like best?’ In addition, many online discussions often talk about finding our style in photography. It is a question I have pondered for myself and I have often wondered: How do I find my style? There are numerous genres in photography – landscape, street, travel, nature, (including macro as a sub genre), portrait, architectural. We have all heard photographers described according to a particular specialism, for example, wedding photographer, street photographer, landscape photographer, portrait photographer, even black and white photographer. As a learner in photography I was determined not to confine myself to one or two genres and made a decision to give each genre a fair chance before deciding which I preferred. Changing the emphasis of my photography helps to keep me motivated, and when I get tired of shooting in one genre, or feel that I have exhausted the possibilities, I can change to another genre to shake things up a bit! No matter which genre I am exploring, there are always lots of variations from which to shoot – different angles and perspectives, different focus, different composition of images. Sometimes, though, I don’t worry about the genre, I feel drawn to take a photograph just because…
Not having a preferred photography genre or genres can be liberating in a way, leaving you with the freedom to shoot in any genre that takes your fancy, but it may also be true that an endless choice of subjects, in lots of different genres, can be overwhelming, leaving you without a clear focus or creative direction and prey to the old saying, ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. However, what I have discovered is that, whatever the genre, the reason I take photographs is to experience and celebrate life in all its diverse forms. Showcasing the diversity of place is obviously achieved through shooting landscapes; nature photography can document the natural environment of a place in all its rich uniqueness. Diversity can also be revealed through street photography, where candid photography will celebrate the rich dimensions of diversity contained within an area, its people and its culture, while showcasing diversity of culture and landscape is the very bread and butter of travel photography. Architectural photography, in turn, can reveal the many and varied types of built environment. The choices we make regarding composition, use of light or adding impact to our images, and our decisions about whether to shoot in colour or black and white, whether to shoot wide angle or macro, are all ways to try to enhance the final images in our chosen genre. By examining my work from time to time, and looking for patterns in the type of images that appeal to me when I shoot, I realise that all the photographs I take are attempts to capture and celebrate diversity. I have discovered a theme that runs through my photography, which can encompass all genres and which motivates and inspires my photography in all situations, a theme that can evolve as my photography evolves.
So, in response to the question, what type of photography do you like best? I can honestly reply that the genre itself is not as important to me as how the image speaks to me, how it fits into the overall theme of my photography, that of celebrating diversity and documenting unique moments, places and interactions as best as I can.
Below is a random set of images that don’t fit neatly into a particular category, but I believe each of them reveals a sense of the diversity of life…people going about their daily business, an object left in a particular place, a built feature on the landscape created by humans for humans, and water, wherever I might find it!
I love to capture images with reflections
Creativity is an endless well and you can always pull from it – Anthony Epes