Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms



Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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11 Jul 2020 10:42AM   Views : 409 Unique : 270


What’s your signature, photographically? What might other members of Ephotozine look at and decide is always characteristic of your images?

Thinking about my own shots, there are some themes: heavy grain, maybe, and unusual lens effects, including minimal depth of field. Use of one or two specific Nik Filters, certainly. Sometimes, really unbalanced compositions, with more negative space than NASA knows about. And, on a good day, possibly a certain rapport with my models, whether they are paid or otherwise. You may want to add something, especially if you’re one of the people who have appended ‘I knew this was one of yours at once’ in a comments box.

People who have submitted panels of pictures to the RPS may have had formal advice about how to maintain a consistent style in their images: as I’ve never done that, I’d welcome contributions from anyone who has. Similarly, anyone who has published a book and has had to worry about the way that images fit together in a sequence is very welcome to add their three ha’porth.


Charlie Waite’s landscapes are – largely, but not exclusively – characterised by their square format, and I wonder if that’s because he shot with a Hasselblad, or whether he chose a ‘Blad because the format was right for the images he wanted to make.

Platon, who I wrote about a little while ago, has a consistent and limited technical approach, though it does give a characteristic look to images. He always shoots on film, and scans it with a NASA scanner from the Eighties, which he says gives a unique look. His images are carefully and fully processed to bring out lovely tonal detail, which is definitely a bit hyped-up compared with any darkroom print. The defining characteristic of his pictures is the rapport with his sitters, though: clear contact, even if it is also wary and cold, as in his images of Putin and Trump.

If you want, please tell me what you see as defining my images: but it will be far more interesting if you can set out what you feel identifies an image as yours…

The model in the portrait shot is Amethyst.


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AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
11 Jul 2020 11:29AM
To me there's two parts to personal style. As you say, Platon and others have quite a restricted palette of techniques, subject choices, and editing/printing techniques and are recognizable because of this. Certainly much of what I shoot is in the same location with similar lighting, editing, and subject matter. Personally I feel that those who restrict themselves in such a way in order to develop a 'brand' style are simply limiting themselves for no good reason. It's like Picasso, very few people realise that he was a brilliant 'classical' painter ( before he escaped the shackles of convention and started to do his own thing. However, the foregoing is mostly to do with technique. Certainly I have taken a portfolio of what I've considered to be my best images (in a limited range of genres) to appraisal sessions at art festivals to be pored over by well known gallery and publishing people and the main comment that came out was that I needed to decide on what I wanted to specialise in and be known for. My opinion is that such comments are missing the point! So what I really admire is when I see somebody's personal style in what are often basically snapshots. For example I'll sometimes come across a series of a model's self taken images that are superficially just random photos, until you look at them in a group of maybe 24 thumbnails that leave me thinking "I wish that I could do that!", when I realise that there's an amazing coherence and connection between all the disparate images that way surpasses 'just' the technical prowess that most of us think of as our personal style that we're recognised by others for.
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
11 Jul 2020 3:24PM
Personally, I don't believe I have a signature or style.
I shoot nature and very rarely is the scenery and lighting the same from shot to shot.
The crops and post production edits vary. I do not use presets in any of my PP edits.
Perhaps that is my style?

When I shoot youth sports, I clearly do have a style.
I shoot images that show emotion on the face of the players.
I want to show the battle that goes on, on the field not just the sport.
Post process is still image by image instead of using presets.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
11 Jul 2020 3:25PM
I must admit that I treat all pronouncements by gallery people and the like with a certain scepticism... I'm not entirely sure that marketing people undersand markets, other than as a series of metrics.

It's a delight not to be shackled by those sorts of constraints, though!
Daisymaye Avatar
Daisymaye Plus
15 26 25 Canada
11 Jul 2020 4:13PM
I've don't think I've ever commented in your blog John. I'll try now. I'm not good with explaining myself. Maybe that's why I like to find a story, any story in any photograph I see. Pretty is nice but it just isn't my thing. I appreciate it in other peoples work though. So, what can I say. I don't think I'm known for anything in particular because I don't know myself. I like to play around with an image. Crop, uncrop, colour, b&w until I see what says ok, this is it. To me, it's mostly about recording where I've been and how I see it. To look back on down the road of life.
saltireblue Avatar
saltireblue Plus
13 14.5k 89 Norway
11 Jul 2020 5:04PM
You pose a very interesting question, John - one which has made me think a good while before responding.
You have summed up your own characteristics well enough as to allow me to drop commenting on them, and concentrate on my own foibles and quirkiness.

My style - and indeed, my taste (the two are not automatically one and the same) - is strong black and white images. Many very graphic in appearance, especially those involving modern architecture. I would also say that I like minimal light, often rim light, but am handicapped in being basically allergic to getting up early enough to catch the best of the morning shadows, and also being somewhat 'it's too late to bother now' at the opposite end of the day. Hence, I miss a lot of opportunities to exploit the shadows which are so good for my style.

And so to the question - why? Why do I more or less concentrate 100% on this one style - indeed, when I am out looking for images, my mind is automatically seeing the possible results in b&w, almost never colour. It is a question I have asked myself often. Is it because I see my colour efforts as ordinary, run of the mill, lacking a certain je ne sais pas? LAcking imagination, and b&w is a crutch which I rely on? Do I miss the real opportunities which are there in front of me , in colour, yet I don't see them?
Is it a desire to be different? Possibly. To stand out from the crowd. Do something very few others (on ePz) are doing? I think possibly this is the answer. But I am not certain.
I wish I knew the answer, but I don't, so will continue to do what I am doing now, and perhaps one day sometime in the future, I will find that elusive colour button on my camera which is today hidden...
JuBarney Avatar
JuBarney Plus
12 36 7 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2020 6:05PM
Certainly when I view thumbnail shots on EPZ I can guess who the photographer is most of the time. I don't think I fit in that category, and I'm pleased.

Today I received a thank you message from one who commented: "You have an eclectic collection in your gallery" and I was rather chuffed as I think it is much more interesting for me and for others to view various genres.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
11 Jul 2020 10:02PM
And coming from all of this - particularly rooted in Malc's thoughts - is it possible that there's a style that trasfers across genres? Rim lighting, maybe, or particular tonal treatment?

JuBarney Avatar
JuBarney Plus
12 36 7 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2020 11:02PM
The question remains is do YOU think there is a common thread to my portfolio? I don’t see it but perhaps there is.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
12 Jul 2020 8:13AM
I shall muse on this, Ju...

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