‘Achieving a distinctive style is something to which we all aspire. Probably the greatest compliment we can receive is for someone to recognise an image as being ours.’
The words of David Penprase, a photographer who has created his own very distinctive style. This is revealed and explained in his book Developing a Photographic Style, where explores the concept in some depth, using many his own portfolio to investigate and demonstrate the meaning of style.
David’s view is that style comes from within. He cites the example of a well-respected musician who was asked at what point he started being successful. He replied ‘When I started writing songs for myself; and not for those I perceived to be my audience and their needs’. David says that to give your photography an edge it must come from within and your creative spirit must be allowed to evolve. In addition your work must be sincere or it is in danger of being rendered pretentious or irrelevant. Unique style comes from the soul and has conviction. It is very much about leaving something of yourself in the image.
Establishing a style is a holy grail for many photographers as it is with artists working in other media. It is about creating work that is recognisable – that is a Rembrandt; that is a Hockney; that is a Penprase. In creating that recognition David emphasises the importance immersing yourself in many forms of imagery as this intentionally or subliminally will provide influence and help the development of your own style.
He recommends that you find a way of working that suits you and then keep to it. This means knowing where the main road that represents your development as an artist lies and not deviating too far, despite the interesting by-ways that may be seen. As he comments, ‘Be true to your own beliefs. At the end of the day the images should be for you: if others appreciate them, then great, that’s the icing on the cake!’