21 June 2010

That's Not Your Style!?

I have a booth in the Arts & Crafts section of Salt Lake City’s weekly Farmer’s Market. In the booth I there are hanging perhaps 40 framed images. They vary from iconic redrock images to West Desert landscapes, vivid color shots of sunsets on the Great Salt Lake to black & white renderings of abandoned shacks. I also have four bins filled with matted prints of varying sizes. The matted prints are more diverse in offering a number of travel images from Japan, Iceland, Italy and other destinations.

This past Saturday a young woman – an illustrator by trade – was very complementary of my framed landscapes. We chatted and while flipping through one of my bins she exclaimed, ”This isn’t your style, is it!?” It really was more of statement than a question. The image in question was one I had taken in Corsica, a large retriever lazily laying in the doorway of a restaurant. One of those serendipity travel shots that you just happen upon, I’ve sold both prints and photocards of the image and have it hanging in our home.

I was surprised by the statement, though perhaps I shouldn’t have been. We certainly seem to readily pigeon-hole people, whether in the Arts or in the Professional world. I would like to resist that. Travel Photography is one of my favorite genres to explore. But in my mind it can rest easily beside my landscape work and my developing architectural work. I am a generalist by proclivity and my photographic naturally and organically tends to mirror that. Having said that, there are clearly subjects that have little photographic appeal to me, so while my interests are diverse, they are also fairly well-defined. This is good because,  the real trick is to bring a certain excellence to whatever you do, not necessarily become a stylist. Not to name names, but we all know some of those stylists and some are making Big Bucks. More power to them and their success.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to explore what is of interest to me even if they may seem far afield from Utah landscapes. I’ll look to past masters such as Edward Weston and Bill Brandt whose interests and pursuits varied from decade to decade, but who always strived to define excellence in their own unique fashion. I like that.