If you look to the greats of our magical art form they by in large have something in common. They have long term bodies of work exploring something that they found interesting. This is not only the case for the street photographers, and it may not have been that the project theme was something that they intended to investigate until they realised that something tied a lot of their work together already, and continued with something that was already there.It can be broad or very narrow, but they usually have something that to them built their body of work.
It is plainly evident that grouping images together and displaying them as a set, tied together by a theme or concept, generally conveys a stronger message than a single image on its own.
I have been only a short time involved in Street Photography, and prior to picking up a camera again in September 2012, I had been a long time away from photography in general. I have been very lucky though in the fact that on returning, I have discovered that the passion that I once possessed for the still image has returned quickly, and with this has also come skills that I never possessed.
A large portion of this has been thanks to my involvement in some great communities. I have been luck enough to be involved in admin work for some great Facebook pages that has allowed me to see a lot of great work. This is however a large body of single images in the main. When viewing artists work in this manner I think that you often struggle to really get a feel for what the artist is trying to convey through their work.
The biggest benefit that I have had in these communities is my involvement as a Editor for the collaborations on Urban Picnic. This is where I have started to gain some first hand experience on shooting to a theme, and building a body of work that are linked in some way. I completed the first collaboration on the theme Faceless. This, as well as the other collaborations that I have coordinated and edited can be viewed in the Collaborations section of the site.
As I continue to work with some amazing artists, who are immensely talented, and passionate, I am afforded a luxury that many are not. I get to see how others think about delivering images based on a pre selected theme. So, how does this help me you might ask?
At the start of the post I mentioned that some of the greats of the past had likely not meant to shoot to a theme, or to develop a body of work around a certain topic. There were also likely some that actively went out to deliver something specifically related to exploring a passion. I think that what I have learnt, is that either way, as you continue to shoot more and more images, you will naturally find a groove that you are comfortable with. This is both a positive and a negative at times. But we will concentrate on the positive.
You are developing a style that is all of your own.
Out of the Dark
This is plainly evident when you spend time looking through sites like Urban Picnic. I like to select a specific artist, then look at their profile. I then spend time looking at their own work in their portfolio, it gives you insight into their personal style. I then like to look at the artists that they have followed and see the contrast and similarities of their work.
So… There is that famous saying, good artists borrow, great artists steal. I guess I aspire to be able to steal the best of some of the greats when it comes to the discipline that was required to devote such a large amount of time investigating singular ideas to unite bodies of work and make them more powerful. In this digital age I think that people get very hung up on presenting single images in forums and Facebook pages, and lose sight of the huge amount of time that many of us will have to play and develop as artists.