WWhen I first picked up a camera, I had this zingy thing happen. I was 12 and it was my father’s old Pentax and 300mm lens and when I looked through the viewfinder this kaleidoscopic vision captured me. It was a voyeuristic view on the world as you isolated a subject and froze this in time to review later. I found a passion for the process and later went on to university and did a foundation course for the arts and then specialised in photography for the next three years on a BA degree course. At that time in the 80’s the course was second-best in the UK. Here I developed what I thought then as my own photographic identity. How wrong I was.
fast forward thirty years to the present day and you would think that I had already captured the very essence of my own photo identity. During my career, I have exited photography a few times to pursue another avenue in the creative industries but even when on another path the attraction has been too much and even in times of hardship these last 12 years have seen me stick to my chosen path in life.
The only element which has really changed for me has been the style and presentation of my work. This is best seen on my website www.jamesnader.com where my work at most seems eclectic and there is a good reason for this. Over the years working successfully as a fashion and advertising photographer has seen varying styles. A client loves your work and then books you for something else and if you have no personal projects then you get driven down a dangerous path. This path of most resistance and not the least is what you meander down.
. You can always shoot for pictures with the intention of submission to get your work seen to get booked and then get paid. The truth really is out there. This no longer works and so many people shoot for nothing to get visible but how difficult is this nowadays?
I, therefore, have to admit that this has also been my path on occasion, shooting for profile image so I can get seen by potential clients. Then one day as they say I woke up and smelt the coffee. I realised that I have always shot around subjects and have without realising had some personal projects. These projects without prejudice help define a style that is inherent in me and some of my work but not always noticeable. Shooting free and without restraint. I have for so long worked to clients directives and the art directors brief with all the constraints of composition, style of light, location, and teams. Shooting freely is awesome and where I started from. Over these last twenty years, I have on occasion shot images that stand out and are less contained in a creatives vision. They have been my creative vision and ideas which really have sat on a drive or deemed not show worthy as it didn’t fit in with my mainstream marketing which was slightly avant-garde fashion.
II have over time done projects of people with tattoo art, real people castings and normally take a camera with me on my vacations and trips for clients, recce images which normally go in the photo bin are now out there!! My freedom of expression has been quite suppressed and outside of this dreaded Covid-19 Virus, I have made a decision to open up the book and share some of my not so hotshots and ideas.
My photographic personality is really now part of my own DNA. What I mean by this is that my actual process has evolved from darkroom into photoshop but the shooting process is always the same. Photo DNA is what you create over time and it is this which helps you discover and maintain your photographic personality. Your mistakes define your success and your process defines your ability.
What is your process? Let me know 🙂
For me know I really believe it’s all about your own individual process and over time you get better at this. Now I have a very nice process from shooting to delivering content. I don’t forget how to shoot my ideas and so now after many years of following the demands of commerciality I have raised my game and really opened up my process for other genres and bringing out of the darkness the mantra shoot what you like when you like and pay no attention to who likes it or not. Social media over these last five years has stifled the flow, how many likes or followers is what it has become. This process has killed off a lot of my work ideas and the fear of posting images that don’t get much traction has frozen my social media and in fact, I have been in fear of posting content that may be deemed a little less likable! Not any more. I have gone back to the Process I used, my process, and applied it. Shooting freely and open and now for the first time sharing it.
So to summarise, my observations are that finding your own photographic style is part of your own process. Discover what makes you tick and then follow this path. Shoot open and free and let no one tell you otherwise. It’s your DNA and your work so follow your instinct and develop your own shoot personality.
Photography was for me years ago a form of expression and art. Photography has become money generating but now and as a consequence, we have fewer great photographers mainstream as budget diminish and more social influencers without any knowledge about the true process of photography. Merely putting the new camera from Currys on auto and stating you are now a photographer in my eyes just doesn’t suffice. There is like anything, a steady analysis, and learning process to really understand. However, I am not taking it away from the guys online who are simply caning their genre or niche. Good luck to them for hitting the right note.