When I look on the computer at a photograph I’ve made, many times I’ll think, wow that’s like …, and though I typically won’t be able to actually say who it reminds me of, but there will be something that seems reminiscent of some famous photographs, or photographers, I’ve seen.
A few years back, when I started to get really interested in “Photography”, and started to look at photography books, Jill was very concerned that I would lose whatever was mine, whatever it was that made people look at my photographs and go wow or otherwise appreciate them, and that I, my photographs, would be changed by what I saw others do.
So this all raises the question: which comes first, seeing a style and being derivative, or developing a style that has similarities to another’s. After all, there might be many ways to make the same photograph, but in practical terms they are probably not infinite.
Certainly for myself, when I am out photographing, for good or ill, I am not thinking of some photograph, I am not conscious of the similarity of the scene before me and that in some photograph I might have seen; I am reacting to what is in front of me and how I want to, how I can, photograph it.
Yes, nowadays, after the things I’ve read and the workshops I”ve taken, I might adjust my position or lens to improve how elements overlap, or what’s intruding into the (edge of the) frame. But I’m must too into the moment to be thinking of someone else’s photograph. And besides, when I review weeks afterwards, I’m not being reminded of just one photographer. When this happens, different photographs of mine will evoke resonances of other, different photographs/ers.
So the last thought is, which comes first, style or subject? Indeed, are they the same thing?