Over the years my love of photography has grown and grown. A few times recently I’ve been asked “what’s your photographic style?” or “what do you take photographs of?”. Each time I’ve had to think hard before answering. I just take snaps. 100s of them. I enjoy taking photographs to help bring back memories. I don’t have a style. I just enjoy taking photographs.
I’ve always loved taking photos, even as a kid. I remember asking my mum and dad for a camera for Christmas that cost more than I knew they would normally spend, so I offered to go halves with the money I’d saved. I loved it. Before that I remember having a 110mm film camera. I knew exactly what I was doing with it and used it at every opportunity.
When I got married LincsGeek and I bought a Sigma SLR camera, and we both learnt how to use it properly. I continued to take 100s of shots but the cost of developing meant I had to start understanding what the shot would look like before I took it. At work I was responsible for the product photography for the company I worked for at the time. It wasn’t something I was employed to do but one of those things that ended up in my hands – I had a studio set up at my disposal, and spent days in there snapping paint brushes, paint pots and accessories. It was fun, I enjoyed seeing my photographs (however prescriptive) in print, and I learnt a lot.
We entered the DSLR world with a Sigma SD14 which was absolutely fantastic but really cumbersome to carry around, and a couple of years ago replaced our kit with a Nikon D3100 and a couple of lenses which isn’t quite as good in some ways to be honest but is much lighter and more up to date. But we still don’t carry it around everywhere. We have a couple of point and shoot cameras that are nearly always to hand, and of course I have my iPhone.
And that is the camera I use most of the time. It’s brilliant – easy to use, decent resolution (I have the iPhone 5), makes it a doddle to share my shots, and it’s always there in my hand. My ‘proper’ photography has probably suffered since I got my first iPhone because I use all the settings much less often and have to spend time remembering what I’m doing every time I pick the DSLR up. But I take many more photos, and have an ever growing Instagram album.
Instagram is a funny thing actually. I know people who actually hate it with a passion. But I love it. I don’t generally use the filters in it, I use it for the social aspect and I like the square format. It’s somewhere to post my photos for others to see, it links with other social media, and I can engage with people and their photos through it. It gives me the final part of my mobile camera set up – iPhone to take the shots, iPad for editing (I use Snapseed generally), and Instagram for sharing. It’s fun posting random and more calculated shots, it’s nice when people like and comment.
It all got a bit serious recently when I took part in the Instachimps Hip 2B Square Exhibition – a gallery of photographs taken on smart phones by people in Lincolnshire. It was so much fun to be involved and I started to analyse my iPhone photographs even more. I was so surprised how great my ten chosen shots looked printed out and framed, and how brilliant the whole exhibition looked. I also take part in the weekly Smart Phone Square competition, also thanks to the Instachimps group, where we’re given a topic to take a photo on a smart phone in square format.
It turns out, thanks to a comment from a friend on my entry for this week’s Smart Phone Square on the topic of light, that I do have a photographic style. Michelle simply said “Love what you do with shapes” (thank you!). And I think that’s it. I love exploring shape. I like taking images of things, generally of ordinary things, and picking out the lines or the colours or the lighting or the texture or the outline. I like showing elements of a thing rather than the whole thing, or featuring a pretty ordinary object and making it stand out in the composition. I think carefully where objects are placed in my shot, my images are structured. I can now see that in my shots on Instagram, photos I’ve taken for Splodz Blogz, and even many of my holiday snaps.
Have I found a photographic style? I think I have developed one over time. It’s not that great for holiday memories, I still enjoy taking portraits and landscapes for the photo albums, but there will always be this type of shot in there too. I know I’m no expert, I don’t think I take photographs people want to buy or display at home (my shots from the exhibition are still in a pile in the spare bedroom ready to go in the loft), but that’s okay because photography is something I do for me. I can look at my pictures and smile – either because I like the shape or because it reminds me of something.
I have vowed to get the Nikon out and charged up this evening, and make sure I use it more. I’ve started investigating macro lenses because that is one element of my kit I really miss from our Sigma days. The point and shoot is in my bag with a clean SD card. And my iPhone is ready for those random “this is my life” shots.
Here’s to many more years of loving photography. And many more years of developing my style and skills.