The other day I sent the above image to my mentor as part of an assignment I had been doing for the last ten weeks. When his answer came, I was more than pleased.
The mail read that he thought I was "developing a distinctive "look" and approach of my own". I was simply blown away. This was better than the one time at this gas station in Norway where an American told me I had an upstate New York accent. Or that one time someone who heard me play guitar asked me whether I listened to Scofield a lot.
But all those times the feeling is the same. I found a voice. I had been hanging out with NYC bands enough to pick up an accent. I had hummed John Scofield's solos often enough so my phrasing reminded someone of him. And I had made enough photographs to find out what I like in an image and to know what I'd have to do to have that show in my pictures.
I do remember how I was thinking about how to find a style of my own because I did realize that's what you'd want to do. What you'd need to do. To have a unique voice, a unique vision. A distinctive look. But I had no clue how to actually do that. And then again what you have to do is kinda simple I think.
You just do. You don't look for it. You live. You go out. You use your camera. You develop your images. You look at other photographer's work. You look at painter's work. You talk to people. You travel. You look at the clouds. You sit by the ocean. You realize you are more than what is covered by your skin. You love. You cry. You giggle. You're wrong. You're right without even knowing. You do all that and more and you do it consciously and all of that will find a way into your art. Into what you feel and think.
That being sad it is obvious that this is a neverending process. Of course a style can change and I am neither lazy or arrogant enough to say that I'm done now. As much as you are never done evolving as a human being you are never done refining yourself as an artist. Those things are very much connected. You cannot be an artist without being a human being. And any change in one aspect will require one in the other as well.
And because all of that can be done the way you do it by you and you only this will eventually shape your style, your "look". Just don't look for it. Live with all you got and find things that need to be said and ways to say it. It is all there, it always was. And it will find you.