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remake the oldies?

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with the thought of how to handle past images as I continue to shoot and process new photos.

In the past, for the most part, I processed photos according to whatever style I was exploring at the time or what spoke to me for a particular shot or series. Now, looking back on a couple of years worth of my best photos, I see a motley crew of styles that don’t seem to fit together. Some are black & white, some are contrasty, some have heavy vignettes, some are highly saturated, some have a lomo/retro look.

Living in Colorado now for almost 7 years, most of my work is western landscapes or ranch, ag and plains life. At first, I was shooting specifically with “series” in mind, like Industrial Observations or Simplicity of Plains Life. The problem is that I now have a growing collection of similar images that don’t have a specific beginning or end.

New?

Some photographers embark on specific projects to capture a unique subject, idea or style. Once they wrap up that project, a new project begins… leaving clearly defined and visually cohesive collections of work. I have some of that. Usually from traveling, where I’ll process all photos from that trip the same. Or like fellow photographers and inspirations of mine, Cole Thompson and Adrian Davis. Their work varies in subject matter a bit, but for Cole is always a contrasty and somewhat dark black & white, and for Adrian is a softer, warm duotone. Is it boring to have a set style that you always use? Or is it an advantage when someone can pick out a photo of yours just based on your style?

I have thought about going back in time and scrubbing the some of the more experimental treatments off of the biggest offenders. This would allow me to re-purpose those still great underlying images and integrate them into my current processing workflow and build a bigger cohesive portfolio. On the other hand, those images are what they are and represent their own unique piece of time, skill, and inspiration. Styles and processing techniques will always evolve. Technology improves, dynamic range changes, aesthetic trends ebb and flow.

What do you think? Have you had to deal with this before?

This entire topic has been eating away at me since I had a revelation that I wanted to concentrate much more on black & white and that I wanted to kick my fine art side back into gear and start entering competitions and selling prints again.

One Response to “remake the oldies?”

  1. Adrian Davis

    I would certainly experiment with the same image file, and make different styles of imagery from it. This could eventually lead to a specific and personal style. Do what you like, do what you want, and do it often! There is a trend in contemporary photography, especially for those represented. The photographers either have a set style of imagery they create, or they work in several styles, but with specific themes and bodies of work.
    I personally have no interest in trying to figure out what any current or future “system” of imagery will be. My artist statement has been my mantra for the last 15+ years. “I make photographs of what I like to see and wish to remember!”

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