For artists, the measure of success is how distinct and memorable your work is. Photographers are the same. Every shooter aims to be remembered for putting their souls into visual manifestation—and that is the photograph. Lomographers Davide Tambuchi, a.k.a. sirio174, Max van Boxel a.k.a. styleicon and Riddle Viernes share their personal thoughts and insights on how they developed their own photographic signature and the many ways to hone them.
The Distinguished Photographer
Believe it or not, everyone already has their own style -- whether they're a seasoned professional or a sprouting newbie. Before we're photographers, we're humans first, and by default, we all are already unique in our own ways. In art, the challenge is how we can visualize and manifest our uniqueness. It's to be conscious of what we as artists and photographers are inclined to, and strengthening those inclinations. Davide is one of the seasoned Lomographers in the Community, known for his crisp street photographs that take after the ways of the old masters. His work is a hybrid of the formal and informal, imbuing classic photography compositions into the Lomographic aesthetic. There's a healthy balance of the contrasting elements. He tells us:"When I take a candid and I have no time to compose, I prefer to crop the negative. In urbanistic photos, I try to have an equilibrium between elements."
According to Riddle, his style can often be associated with electronic elements such as the Internet, a signal tower, clouds, cables, cloud storage, and flowers. As such, his imprint in photography offers a dichotomy of the organic and artificial, the analogue and digital. A combination that perfectly reflects the contemporary artistic youth culture.
"To sum up, my photograph always goes around with these concepts: digital dualism, cyberspace, base-reality…things that uncertainly floating between what is physical and digital. Like in a limbo, but colourful."
Meanwhile, Max's photos are often composed in such a way light interacts with its environment, creating new shapes through the camera. Mostly, he prefers capturing certain images that have certain depth in them, subjects and elements that can make or break a picture. People in his photos are often less visible, preferring the mundane and fleeting, all while being truly unique and hard to emulate or parodied.
"Maybe my style can be defined by the feeling that it provokes, perhaps a feeling of nostalgia, as if the picture is a screengrab from a 90s indie film or something. I often try to make images that let the viewer decide how they feel when they see it, instead of imposing an emotion on them. In that way an image is multifaceted."
The ideal for every photographer is to have their audience immediately recognize who the photographer is just upon the sight of an image.
Borrow and Personalize from Inspiration
For Riddle, being unique is pretty easy. The key is to be true to yourself. Of course, uniqueness is one thing, but having a unique and beautiful style is another thing. Like any artist, taking inspiration from other artists who've already established themselves and their photographic signature, is part of the progression. Riddle would take all the things he's learned from the photographers he looks up to -- from Louis Dazy's double exposures, East China Sea Photo Club, Mia Novakova, Cody Klintworth, and many more.
Davide learns more through the academic side of photography, taking in literature on great photography masters such as Henri-Cartier Bresson, Robert Doisneau, David Freund, Gabriele Basilico, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Willy Ronis, Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander, Stephen Shore and William Eggleston.
Of course, inspiration isn't limited to artists. For Max, it's important to get inspired and passionate too outside of photography, especially from other art forms. Visualization is a skill developed over time, and for Max, developing your own photographic DNA is similar to visualizing in your head what a certain style of music looks like, and then applying it to photography. The same can go for other art forms. Being able to compare your own work, taking out the good and beautiful out of the other, as well as think of how you can do things differently.
"To develop my own style, there´s a thing that I always do. I like to collect visual evidence of other people, it does not have to be a photographer, it can be an illustrator, painter, philosopher, designer, architect…The key is to keep doing it every day because the world is constantly changing and what happened yesterday will no longer significantly exist in the present."
Developing the Photographic DNA
Having that seamless, unique, photographic style does not come to the artist overnight. Having a photographic routine, making photography as an extension of your life. Practice makes it closer to perfection, closer to your vision. Riddle says, "My suggesting is to keep practicing, shooting, editing your own works. Today you give an edition that you think it suits a picture but tomorrow, when you go back to check it, you may want to give it a totally different look."
That said though, the photographic DNA is always changing. Davide's style has changed over the course of the years as a Lomographer, and it's always good to have this imprint evolving than remain stagnant:
"Some years ago I love to take candid and street photographies, to documents public events, sport, street parades and so on. I never abandon this kind of photography, but in the last two years, I prefer a more detached, more objective and impersonal observation of the social life and urban environment. Take for example my series Cento Volte in Piazza Volta with more than 600 photos taken from the same place."
For Max, never stop taking a lot of pictures, it's the only way you can harness your style. This way, you can always give yourself constructive criticism, see your mistakes, your assets, and knowing where to navigate on your skills:
" I developed my own style by taking a lot of photos, looking at the ones I like and then trying to dissect what it is about those photos that I like. Then next time I go out to take photos I use that information to look for shots that match what I like. The same goes for getting inspired by other photographers: I consciously try to discover why I like about a photo and try to apply that knowledge when I go out shooting.
There's no need to worry. Personal style is already innate, flourishing it is a learning process -- the photographer who makes a habit with their camera will always find their distinct photographic DNA.
We'd like to thank Max, Davide and Riddle once again for their insightful thoughts for this editorial. Do follow Max on his LomoHome, Davide's LomoHome and Riddle's website for more of their distinct analogue works!