On Self improvement

Briar

All-Pro
Location
Scotland
Your opening post kind of points to the problem of studying popular photographers from the past. That is you run the risk of just copying their style rather than finding your own style.

Rather than focussing your study on other people’s work, give serious study to your own. See what works for you and try to develop it further. Developing that vision will make you a photographer that is truer to yourself.

I’d rather see that photographer rather than someone’s shots that put me in mind of ... insert name of photographer master of choice here!
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Your opening post kind of points to the problem of studying popular photographers from the past. That is you run the risk of just copying their style rather than finding your own style.
This was my rationale for a long time, to avoid careful study of the masters.

But I have since realized that even if you know the photos down to the pixel you can't replicate them because the situations are different.

And the point is to study your masters, then overcome them, "kill your masters" as some say. Become better.

It has given me some motivation and hope to see a great HCB landscape and see how I have employed similar things in some older shots of mine.
 

agentlossing

Top Veteran
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I think part of the problem is that the vast majority of the photographers we all look up to the most are from the 20th century, and it's very hard (and a little bit ridiculous) to try and replicate what is, most of the time, a bygone world. I've yet to see what a truly modern "style" looks like. We are all looking to develop a style of our own, yet informing ourselves from a nonexistent fantasy.
 
Some of you should do an exhibition.

Exhibit your photos, speak with anyone and everyone who comes to have a look at your work. Or pretend you don't know who the photographer is and elicit an honest response from people.

Yes, studying books and learning from other photographers are important things you can do in your learning journey. But don't forget to exhibit too.

There are plenty of places where you can do an exhibition for zero to very little cost (other than the cost of printing your photos*).

Go check out your local library. I know my local has space on the walls downstairs and actual exhibition space upstairs where they've been happy to host artwork from local artists. They run a schedule and are usually booked a year ahead. Even if your local library has never hosted an art exhibition before, go ask them, they may think it's a brilliant idea and insipre them to start doing it, starting with your photo exhibition.

You might also want to consider your local cafes or restaurants. I kinda live in a beautiful touristy area. Some of the local cafes here exhibit or display artwork from local artists. It adds to a a local vibe. And the artwork is usually for sale.

Your local community centre - similar circs as your local library.

Your local govt offices - I've seen artwork in the lobby space where there's high traffic.

Learn from feedback or just learn from the experience of holding your own exhibition. Work towards your next exhibition with photography goals in mind. It's your journey.

(*Honestly, you don't have to spend a ton of money on the most expensive printing methods for the best quality prints. Go make some cheap but still decent $5 prints from Walmart. It's not for MOMA or the Louvre).
 
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PS. A couple of years ago I made some enquiries to exhibit at my local library's exhibition space. The librarians I spoke with loved my photos and booked me in for a 6 week exhibition. They then forwarded my application to head office for the rubber stamp .... but one of the managerial meatheads turned my application down because she said my photos would scare the children.

 

re-note

Top Veteran
Location
Bremen - Germany
Real Name
Rolf
Have you ever tried to get input from other media than photography.
There are cinema films that can be helpful.
Another source of inspiration may be poetry(no need to be afraid of it, there is an abundant variety for all tastes)
Music or sounds may lead to unexpected results, in case you don´t take it literally.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Some of you should do an exhibition.
Also many recommend very much on making books.

Your inner editor activates the critical eye when it comes to filling a limited number of blank pages -- as opposed to limitless social media posts. Supposedly a book project will in a natural way direct your themes, visual style towards consistency.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
I think part of the problem is that the vast majority of the photographers we all look up to the most are from the 20th century, and it's very hard (and a little bit ridiculous) to try and replicate what is, most of the time, a bygone world. I've yet to see what a truly modern "style" looks like. We are all looking to develop a style of our own, yet informing ourselves from a nonexistent fantasy.
On the other hand this will help "not copying" the masters of old. It might be downright impossible. :)
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Have you ever tried to get input from other media than photography.
There are cinema films that can be helpful.
Do you mean input as in "inspiration" or input as in "compositional, lighting advice".

Cinema and some TV serves nicely in both departments. :)

Another source of inspiration may be poetry(no need to be afraid of it, there is an abundant variety for all tastes)
There are some nongentrified neighborhoods in Helsinki that bring some dirty limericks to mind... 🤔

Music or sounds may lead to unexpected results, in case you don´t take it literally.
Agreed, music that resonates with me is a superb thing. Ted Vieira for one advices to try listening to your favorite tunes while photographing, see if the mood of the music helps to capture the mood of the scene on film (if they match).
 

doobs

Regular
Location
Reston, VA
Real Name
Chris
So I finished up "Seeing Through Photographs" presented by the NY MOMA last weekend.

It was very thought provoking, as it touched on a number of current hot button issues.

I cannot honestly say whether that was good or bad, but it did seem to deflect from the task at hand at times.

With all that, I would recommend it to anyway looking to broaden their photographic horizons, if for nothing else, than the included reading materials, which are universally excellent.
 

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