Photograph above taken at Lake George, NY with a Leica M240
What is Artistic Style?
Artistic style can loosely be defined as a combination of personal interest in a particular subject matter, the techniques the artist employs in their work, and the tools they use to execute their art. For example, I currently consider myself a landscape photographer. This is not my style, but rather the genre that I work within. However, my approach to photographing landscapes, the subject matter I choose, and the particular camera, lens, etc. depict my artistic style. It's a combination of these elements that make my images unique and identifiable to me.
Over the years, I’ve had a large number of photographers ask me how they should go about developing their own artistic style. While there is no clear answer to such a complicated and personal question, my advice to them has always been the same. First master the art of composition and learn as much as you can about classical skill-based art. Once you have invested the appropriate amount of time to learn the necessary skills in your chosen craft, you can then explore the idea of artistic freedom and personal expression. Over time, what you will discover is that once you have built a strong foundation of knowledge on art and design, your artistic style will develop on its own with little to no effort.
Below are several examples demonstrating my "artistic style" when I shoot candid photographs. I tend to look for animated hand gestures or scenes that raise questions, have creative overlaps, visual movement, etc. - these qualities are uniquely identifiable with my work. More importantly, my artistic style is not something that I consciously think about while I'm photographing but instead developed naturally over time.
The series of photographs below were taken at an American Red Cross event.