Influences Inform Your Photography, But Personal Style Is Up To You

The dictionary definition of influences is: “The power of things or individuals to exert force on another.” My influences in photography come in all shapes and sizes.

When I began my journey as an architectural photographer, I was a small child. My influences then were many and varied: Disney films, especially Fantasia; magazine photos and illustrations; museum art including paintings, and actual sights that I wanted to photograph all influenced the way I saw the world.  Allowing a wide variety of images to chart directions for my lens gave me a broader base from which to grow and evolve as a photographer.

Starting With Everything, Then Narrowing Scope

Although I was always drawn to architecture as a subject for my photography, as a young student photographer I wanted to capture everything.  In college, I photographed nudes, landscape, food, cars, art for books: whatever appealed to me or whatever I was commissioned to shoot.  My appreciation for the visuals of my childhood proved to be excellent resources. The magazine photos and drawings in Life, Look, and Vogue; the cartoons and films; great paintings in museums all relied on composition, values, and capturing the viewer’s interest.  I used those influences and principles in my photography to appeal to my audience and to better my craft.

As I began to develop a personal style, I narrowed significantly my scope. I focused on architecture, especially the differences and similarities of buildings and that which makes them unique. Each structure, ornament, detail appealed to and continues to appeal to me as a photographic subject. It also helped me immeasurably that I had spent seven years as a structural draftsman. In photographing buildings, I understood how they were constructed and why certain elements worked with each other

Influences Range From Architects to Construction Workers

In this vein, architects, designers, craftsmen, construction workers, engineers all influenced my photography because they helped me to understand what I was photographing. This information made a shoot more manageable: architectural photography became second nature because I knew my subject well. The angles, joins, building parts, depth of shadow and elevation of highlight on a structure made sense to me. Thus, all I had to concern myself with were exposure, light, depth of field, white balance and the myriad of details that photography entails. The subject was a clear shot so I could limit my worrying to every other thing that can possibly go wrong in photography!

Essentially, no one influence can completely inspire the work of another unless that work is totally derivative or a clone of the original. I always wanted to be recognized for my individual style as a photographer. But, I was not without the various impressions that shaped my photographic art. My influences were many. However, it was up to me to absorb them and incorporate the wealth of insights into my work. Who influences you?

One Response to “Influences Inform Your Photography, But Personal Style Is Up To You”

  1. likr u i hsve been intersted in photo since i was a child. but my interest is old barns and bridges, flowers and creeks. thank you for your encourging words.

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