"I don’t have a style…" Yeah you do.
I like talking with different people about things they appreciate. Passion is key for me in conversations. If you are not passionate about something, why are you talking about it? I am a very philosophical person and in my “Storyteller Triangle” (I’ll write another post on this later, but it’s the things that make up your ability to tell a story. Philosophy, Experience, Practice) philosophy is probably the strongest aspect for me. I love storytelling and filmmaking. So, I talk a lot with people about these topics. Every once in a while we get the topic of our own personal styles, and the answers from most “younger” people in their craft (not that I am much farther along) tell me they haven’t found their “style” yet. This excerpt is from a dear friend who posted a long article on facebook about not having found a style yet, why that’s ok, and not comparing ourselves. (He did bring up a lot of good points and they deserve a post of their own later.)
“Despite 3-4 years of effort, I wouldn’t say I’m where I want to be as a photographer. Or as a filmmaker, or as a storyteller, or an artist in general. So why do I say this? Because I don’t have a style, for one thing.”
The first part of this statement is fine. It’s ok to not be where you want to be as an artist. Most of us never will be. On a subtopic, I think a better question is to ask “Am I happy with where I am as an artist for how much work I have put in?” Because if I ask myself that question, I think I have made great progress and am definitely on track to “being where I want to be” in the future as an artist. Rabbit trail aside, the second statement “I don’t have a style…” is a flat lie. This is simply an impossible thing, but lots of people believe it. Let me explain. He took a picture of a road and then colored (sorry my British friends, even though I love spelling it coloured, I get made fun of if I do that here in the states.) the image to look three different styles.
But here is the crux of it, he took a picture of something. There are multiple different elements of style, but the largest aspect we seem to always forget. He defined style as ” Style is using your craft to shape your image to look like your preferences.” But that’s not true…
Style is what we engage with in the world, and how we amplify/convey what we engaged the world with.
Style is your preferences shaping your craft that makes an image that in turn amplifies specifics within your preferences. Everyone is different, we all find different aspects of the world engaging and different. I find statistics and physics absolutely fascinating and especially how they can predict and affect emotions in specific situations. My friend here chose to engage with this road. He thought this was engaging enough that he wanted to reproduce it in this image. He chose to center the road with it leading off into the distance. He also chose to do this at eye level. All of this conveys way more about style than the coloring of the image. He knows this too, and you who are reading this probably know that too. But it is something easily forgotten. Style is unique to you, because no one sees the world the way you do. I love the film “Joy” it really resonates with me because of the “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” nature. Not everyone engages the film that way.
So why did I put the “New Wave Burrito” sign as the picture for this post? Because this week I have been having a really hard time emotionally and my friends have rallied around me and have gotten me out of my house. They always take me places I have never been or would never go to, and this was one of them. It is a locally owned burrito shop that opens at 6pm and closes at 4am every day. It also has its burritos named after “New Wave” bands and plays VHS tapes on a 7″ TV/VHS combo at the order counter. It was definitely an experience. But our conversations were great at the shop. awesome quotes came out like “Let me take a look at your laptop and I can fix it… Two words De-Cals”… or “Those toasted Mexican corn bugs look great.” Plus the environment with those quotes could be their own little scene in a film. We all have unique experiences like this that we need to pay more attention to. We all have style. It is pouring out of us. Stop caring so much about the subtleties of your style, they will come later. Care about the meat of your style, what on a fundamental emotional level about everyday life, stories, landscapes, and emotions stand out to you. What makes you cry? What makes you laugh? That’s your style…