19 June 2017

Ten Top Tips for Competition Portraits - Tip 3 - Developing Your Signature Style

If you make a mistake once or twice, critics will tell you you have stuffed up.
If you make that same mistake 70 or 80 times people will recognise that you have developed your own style, your signature style.
Now make that mistake 500 times and you have a body of work.
That means you can stage an exhibition!

Well known photographers often sign their work. But they don't really need to. People can usually recognise the author by the style of the portrait.

To develop your own style you need to be brave and adventurous. You need to avoid being contained and constrained by rules and guidelines.

Urs Buhlman is one photographer not constrained by the rules and by orgnaisations.. In an interview a few years ago Urs told me:

'See that bowling green, they are all the photographers out there; see that funny looking weed spouting up out of the pavement  …….  thats me'. 

Image: © Urs Buhlman 

Sometimes the judging systems, 'the five point system', the '17 point guidelines', the 33% merit system only serve to constrain and limit the development of a photographer's individual style. As a result,  all the portraits taken by photographers conforming to the judging system start to look much the same. Sure, there's nothing wrong with them. But they lack adrenalin. They lack the photographer's personal signature style. The images have been homogenised

Look to make mistakes and lay your style out there for all to see.

"Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
Throughout the sensual world proclaim,
One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name."
Thomas Osbert Mordaunt

A retrospective image of finalists from FIPP 2013 and FIPP 2015 is hanging in Brookfield Place 125 St George's Tce until 23 June 2017.
Learn more about FIPP - click HERE

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