Have You Found Your Voice?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by davidrosen, Apr 30, 2019.

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  1. I have not.
  2. That realization and admission is something though, a first step.
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  3. My 15 minutes to edit the original post expired so I have to reply to my own post which was too brief.

    What my question means, have you found a style, a photo theme, a subject matter? Although I took pictures, developed film and made prints back in the late sixties, there was a long pause. I did not get serious again until 2016. I have not yet found my photographer’s voice.
  4. I haven’t found my inner voice, but I can clearly tell what attracts me to photography. I like the qualities and effects of light, specially the shadows and reflections and their interplay with subjects. I love to combine various geometric and organic shapes and textures in my photography and study how changing light modulates their appearances. I seek mainly innocuous subjects/objects and focus on presenting them in various ways that could provide special insight into their character and how that reacts with our minds. I think, these traits are somewhat evident in my portfolio and may become more prominent over time.

    I don’t consciously shoot to make a series, but have plans to explore certain themes in future with more role of shadows, may be involving fear, mystery or darkness.
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  5. Much of my library of images was documentary in origin and purpose. I used many of the images in classroom teaching.
    My Voice: Masonry styles at Chaco Canyon

    Not for nothing was I known as the "Marquis d'slides" by my students and fellow faculty.:cool:

    In retirement, I have found it hard to avoid dropping into that mode, so much of my 'voice' is an effort to present the subject 'as it is',
    Of course, nothing is 'as it is'; but some things are definitely NOT as it is, all the same.
  6. Great question, @davidrosen and my thanks for this,

    Essentially, I have found my ''photographic voice' (aka interest, passion). Mine is in capturing human expressions. I very occasionally step into other genres (for example landscapes) but 'human expressions' is what truly interests me: especially informal portraits. Sometimes, I take street photos , sometimes photos of someone performing in a band, Recently (as a volunteer) I've taken many photos of groups that have been published in local newspapers and/or in a booklet. In my photography, I try ( mostly with the help of 'burst mode' ) to capture 'spontaneous' expressions' of - and the visual dynamics between people.

    So People (their emotions and expressions) are truly my thing and my 'photographic voice'.

    Other genres don't really interest me.

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  7. SCL


    Yes, but so many things get in my way and lead me down alternate paths...and with digital it is much more fun to experiment than with film, which is my mental mainstay, even though I often reach first for my digital cameras. I always liked nature and documentary photography, but as I grew older, portrait work began to fascinate me...perhaps because I came to the realization that we could capture a family member's essence at a point in their life, and that could be shared with later generations. It probably sounds hokey, but I remember a great grandmother as a plump white haired old lady of few words...but then I see pictures of her in the late 1800s as an attractive young girl and nurturing young mother...it changes my perspective. And at my age, I want to preserve some of that wonder for future generations who may or may not know or appreciate their ancestors except by name. The right portrait helps bridge that gap IMHO.
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  8. That is good. Documentary work is very important.
  9. I specialize in social documentary photography. Have hundreds of projects. I also curate a still photo / ephemera archive and small gauge film archive. Enough work for 10 lifetimes. (not paying work.)

    Winogrand had a saying...the more I do the more I do.

    And that is how it goes. One project begets another one, two or three projects. Develop projects and you will have tons to shoot. At least that is how it is on the street.

    Projects give the photog direction and purpose. Jay Maisel also gives some important advice. "If your out there shooting, things will happen for you. If your not out there, you'll only hear about it."

    One area that I've failed at is getting into people homes to photograph them. I was pretty successful at it back in the 70's. But in the digital age, everyone is self sufficient with their photos. Plus they don't like old boomers. So I am shut out.

    But I have evolved with the times. I don't have a smart phone but I got a tablet a few months ago, learned about Instagram (for viewing only, can't post to it ) And I started making videos of things that interest me off my tablet's screen or my computer screen.

    Here is one I made called Fat Ass. Documents how women get injections to shape or make their butt big.

    Have made a bunch of videos this way. Kindof a social documentarian's dream, esp for me. While I love shooting people, I hate talking to people. Much of my work is candid, so I never do have to talk to them. I could never hope to run into all the people I video on IG. And I take some photos of the tablet as well. But I prefer videos of their content to archive it. I do em while watching TV at night. Nothing could be easier!

    Recently I've tried to make little better quality videos. I set up a tripod and video of a computer monitor.

    Here is a sample photo of the big butt craze...

    mandy blanco.jpg

    I make large collections of IG or internet photo and upload to the Internet Archive. Sometimes this stuff disappears overnight. But that is not my personal photography, it is archival work.

    mandy blanco 2.jpg

    I have many years of my own work I need to edit. I started out the year doing that. Got through about 5% then got into the movie film work and some other areas and could not get back to my own cleaning of house. Hope to get back to it soo.
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
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  10. I think I "found my voice" early on, quite unexpectedly, by just bringing my Nikon with me wherever I went socially. I took casual photos of my friends. Without being real conscious of it, I tended to get close and create portraits, which I now call "documentary portraits." Fifty years later I'm still doing the same thing.
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  11. "not really".
    I had the project to nail every face that matters in my life, as described by SCL & sjmurray. - I guess I goofed up in many cases and just, when I finally almost geared up for the task, EU spit into my soup with "General Data Protection Regulation" (<- My understanding of that is limited, but reading it & related work contract amendments conservatively, I 'll refrain from bringing digital cameras to any corporate party to come as long as "our shutterbugs' personal HDDs" aren't mentioned in my employer's data privacy statement.)

    Is "black and white heavy" a style? - For me it is the comfort zone. I honestly admit that it felt too hard to do, starting from digital color captures. I am a bit challenged with dumping anything, no matter what it might be, so yes, color information is of course included. Carrying the Monochrom along, to anchor me in the BW realm, helps. - I still wish there were reasonably priced digital home printing options for BW...

    We have everything it takes, to get into something: Take a camera out, bring some time along, shoot what you can (among the things catching your eye) and see where it goes. - I assume you'll need 100 keepers to start seeing your subconscious voice? - Does that picture get clearer, if you try to pick 50 or less from 1000, for an exhibition?

    Don't try picking "your" style in advance. - Yes, sponge inspiration, dabble, rinse & repeat... But the important thing is that you try to do "the right thing" at every stage and go with that flow. That way a personal style should develop (someday..). What I am trying to say: Print the heck out of a neg that feels printable for you. Tweak RAWs to taste (or, if that is your cup of tea, try manipulating JPEGs towards the same goal).
    The huge (and interesting!) challenge will come when you end placing 3 pictures with something in common on a page or wall and realize "they don't match!", since every single one squats & marks a different point in the amazingly huge field of "acceptable on it's own". I am talking contrast & color tweaking here. Yes, I have been there... And I also see that stage fresh out of press way too frequently. I assume it is possible to harmonize pictures in PP these days. Later when you 'll happen to already do that subconsciously during your regular workflow, your(!) style will have found you.
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  12. I am a novice writer and I don’t make much sense in photographs, but we, the people who are devoted to creativity with body and soul, feel the same in similar situations. Frankly, I have always envied people who are better in my craft than me. It seemed that I was greatly lost among these unique ideas. But then I thought: what if not to equal others, and just to be myself? Even if I have only one reader, I will try for him more than for everyone else. Your voice needs time. Relax and do what you like. And you will reward.
    ruslan likes this.
  13. Yes, I have. At least I understand what I do, in spite of some minor limitations in gear, locations and models.
    roseupshur likes this.
  14. I think you likely mean more than this but it's worth noting that understanding what one does is not the same as having a voice and having a voice may sometimes come without and understanding of it.
  15. "I am a novice writer and I don’t make much sense in photographs" roseupshur.

    The seeing is the same in all Art.

    Perhaps, that ability is the difference between a novice and....
  16. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    No - having been involved in both writing and photography for the largest part of my life, seeing, understanding and telling / showing so others understand are quite different.
  17. " understanding and telling / showing so others understand are quite different" sandy.

    Hmm, depends on who is doing the telling and understanding.

    I would like to think that thought is more of a pointing other than a telling.

    A telling has always been a worry. Scary.
  18. Jeez, Phil.

    Always thought you were more of a Eagles fan...

    Phil S likes this.
  19. Cool, Springsteen.

    But, got to love....

  20. To answer the question.

    My voice has always been there.

    Its just, the two ears, forget to listen. And those two eyes, forget to see.
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