Values and Style

I had a very strange year as a photographer, and I would like to briefly reflect on it as I’m sure lots of us have years like this. It was a year in which I finally took my skills and carefully amassed equipment and pitted them against a few, three to be precise, weddings, and I am really satisfied to have put these three learning experiences behind me and I am excited about the year ahead as a semi-professional photographer. That sounds as if it is a positive year, but there are some major undercurrents that are worrying me. In addition to my 3 weddings and 2 associated pre-shoots, I didn’t take a lot of portraits. Underpinning my growing photo skills is a deep love of portraiture and a delight in capturing something of people I like or who interest me, if I don’t continue to do that, then I’m afraid I might lose something essential, and even if I become an accomplished wedding shooter, I might lose the style and approach that I have developed naturally so far.

Of course there are reasons, I’m really busy at work and enjoying the professional challenges there. I have also bought a house with my girlfriend which is still sucking up DIY time, although we are almost finished that now, There was Julie’s pregnancy and now the birth of baby Hannah leading to sleep being somewhat disrupted. In short, combining this list with the 3-hour commute Julie and I had to see each other for most of the same year, it isn’t surprising that I haven’t taken enough portraits. What I don’t want though, is for this to become a permanent state of affairs, and that is where I have to confess to my dear readers about a failing. One of my very favourite photographers, David Alan Harvey, when working with a student who wanted to do a photoshoot with someone, give the young man short-shrift and told him to stop agonising about it, and to just push the issue with this potential subject. I agree totally with this approach, most of my favourite portraits have come from me gently “pushing” people who claim not to want to be photographed into working with me. Of course I don’t advocate being too pushy, “no” means “no” of course, but between yes and no lies a whole world of “maybe secretly I would like you to make a nice image of me and social protocol says I have to self protect by saying i’m not photogenic” or similar. These people are absolutely my favourite to work with and my problem is that I haven’t been that guy this year!


So if I am going to keep true to myself and develop my style then, I need to grow that confidence in approaching people and cutting out the small amount of time to meet with subjects and to produce something they love. Expect a pushier Matthew this year. It is an interesting question whether my few years of being pushy and doing projects like my 100-portraits has developed a style that can be seen in my early wedding shoots, or whether they look just like everyone else’s? Like every photographer, I hope that some of my style comes through?

The picture is of my Sister in Law, who I love immensely, and who really didn’t want to have her photo taken!


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