When it comes to style, one should remember this piece of advice by Persian poet, Rumi:
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Executing a multitude of styles isn’t difficult. And now, with the internet and the ability to learn a new photographic technique with just a click of a button, being able to do multiple styles doesn’t differentiate you. It just makes you look unsure of yourself. And when you are unsure of yourself, others will be unsure of you.
Think of style as a friend. We want friends who are consistent. Why? Because consistency means reliability. However, if you’re constantly switching around, then you become unpredictable. You’re here one day, but you’re gone the next. We never know where to find you. We never know what to expect. We can’t trust you. Nobody wants a friend like that.
If we take a look back at the greatest photographers of all time, you’d be hard-pressed to find one who constantly changed his or her style. Daido Moriyama is known for his stark black and whites. William Eggleston for his color. Bruce Gilden for his flash. And Salgado for his epic landscapes.
What do people think of when your name is mentioned?
Maintaining a consistent style goes way beyond talent and skill. It’s about integrity. It’s about staying true to whom you are, believing in what you represent, and proudly showing up day after day and doing the work regardless of what others say.
Granted, as we grow as photographers, it is only natural that our styles will change. That’s normal, but eventually you’re going to have to make a decision and commit. This is not to say that you are incapable of doing more, or that you are any less of a human being because you choose to do less – it’s about standing for something you believe in, which, first and foremost, should always start with yourself. When you do so, you will find that others start to believe in you.
It’s not about doing more, nor is it about doing less; it’s simply about doing what is uniquely you.
by Jason Lam