Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Type of Photography are YOU Looking For?

When people want their pictures taken, there really are a lot of options. How do you choose?

When I decide to follow (I mean stalk) a photographer, I'm normally looking at their photography style. If I wanted to have one take my picture, I would want their photography style to match how I want people to see me.

Because I'm just starting out at this, I'm right there with you. I'm going for full disclosure when I say that my style is still evolving. But I know what I like, and I'm working on making that what comes out of my camera.

For instance, I have mad photo crushes on Jasmine Star and Jose Villa. Both have a pretty strong fashion influence. Jasmine's photography is like my love for Banana Republic, and Jose's is like my love for Anthropologie. One is natural and fabulous, and the other is natural and heavenly; they are like roses and peonies.

But I also have a thing for photographers with a more retro vibe, who use warm colors, slightly desaturated, and classic poses, whose pictures feel like they came right out of 500 Days of Summer. The poses are still fresh, but the pictures look like they are 20 years old. Classic. The colors just pop out of the earthy neutrals. Still stunning, but a big contrast from the type of photos above.

And then there are the editorial and photo-journalistic photographers. So many photographers today seem to fall into the "photo-journalistic" category that it's almost a non-category. I think the idea is that they are moving away from posed, generic portraits and capturing the moment as it unfolds. However, some photographers really are good at capturing an event or person like you would see in a newspaper or magazine with precise technical mastery - edgy, gritty, realistic, perfectly exposed and composed pictures using wide angles and expansive shots that get the whole picture. They capture the beauty in the real moments because the small imperfections that complete the story are there.

Finally, there are the art photographers who are willing to experiment with unconventional techniques, like putting Vaseline on a lens for a fun blurred effect, or using tilt shift lenses to create a fantastical experience. They inspire me too because they are truly taking the creating of the image into their own hands and pushing the limits of what I see and understand a good picture to be. They make me ask why I respond emotionally to their image.

And just like my favorite color is all of them (with a very slight preference for yellow), I want to be all of these photographers (with a slight preference toward the fashion-y look). But the reality is, it really depends on the subject. The technique should deliver the message about the subject, and the message I want to get out there should guide the way I make my pictures. Always begin with the end in mind.

Which type of photographer sounds the best to you? When you are looking for a photographer to take your pictures, your pictures will look the best if you know your photographer's style and your own. Make sure they match. You will be much happier with the final product because you know what to expect as the end result.

Ask Aslan. He's thrilled with his portraits. His only requirement is that I make him look cute. I'll give myself a gold star for pleasing that client.

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