Assignment #8 in our Find Your Eye: Journey of Recognition course was to study current trends in photography and see whether they influence our own photography.
This lesson was both easy and hard for me. Hard because I can’t relate to it very well, and easy because the short answer is simple: No. Then hard again, because clearly that answer is not sufficient!
I’ve never been accused of being trendy, except jokingly. I seldom even know what the latest trends are, so if I occasionally happen to appear au currant it’s generally accidental rather than intentional. Whether in fashion, home decor, or music, my taste tends to run to the conservative, classic, and comfortably familiar.
Prior to taking this e-course, I only followed a couple of photography blogs. I’ve been introduced to many more through this class and the Liberate Your Art postcard swap. One trend I have noticed is post-processing for special effects, whether it be layering on textures, altering the color, or applying edges or frames to an image. While I admire others’ creative results, I’ve never tried any of these things myself, nor have I (yet) felt any desire to. (This will be no surprise to those who have read my previous posts.)
For this assignment I also looked at some nature, wildlife, and travel photography blogs. I saw a lot of wide angle photography with closeup foreground areas enlarged by lens distortion, macro shots with very shallow depth of field, and lots of “milky” flowing water. I don’t see these as new trends, since I recall similar techniques from photography books and magazines that I was reading back in the 1970’s and ’80’s. I noticed that particular photographers tend to use certain angles or techniques more than others do, but I think that is related more to personal style than trends.
When I look through my own photo archives, the only trends I notice are related to the materials available to me at the time. My skills have (I hope) improved, but the subject matter hasn’t really changed much over the years. I photograph what I have access to and interest in. Nature and travel have always been themes. What seems a lifetime ago, I documented my kids and family activities. My earliest photos are in black and white because that was what I had. Later I switched to color film, then slides, and another brief B&W phase when my husband had a darkroom in our home.
In the fullness of time, I moved over to digital photography. I love its spontaneity and the freedom it allows me to shoot anything I want, as much as I want, without worry about the cost of processing. But I’m still striving to capture what I see and feel. So far, I’ve had no desire to try to alter my images in an “artistic” sort of way. Those of my photos that look like streaky old Polaroids really are streaky old Polaroids, and the ones with the “seventies processing” actually were processed in the ’70’s. Back then, those were considered flaws. Why would I want today’s photos to look like that?
Part of me longs for the simplicity of older times, as reflected in the image above. Could this image be made to appear more “period” by applying some cool, current editing tools to it? I suppose so. But I really like it just as it is.
For now, I’ll continue to follow my heart, and let others follow theirs. Who knows, maybe in 30 or 40 years I’ll be trendy. If it can happen to seventies processing… !
Note – I chose this image particularly in honor of today’s anniversary. Not that we could ever forget . . . .