When 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 of 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, 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 ’80s, the system 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. Over the years, I have left photography a few times. This was to pursue another avenue in the creative industries during my career.
The only element which has changed for me has been the style and presentation of my work. This is best seen on my website www.jamesnader.com where my career 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, 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 paid. The truth is out there. The Process of shooting for submission to get noticed no longer works, and so many people shoot for nothing to get visible, but how difficult is this nowadays?
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 inherent in me and some of my work but not always noticeable. I was shooting free and without restraint. I have for so long worked to clients directives and the art director brief with all the constraints of composition, style of light, location, and teams. I, therefore, have to admit that this has also been my path on occasion, shooting for profile images so I can get seen by potential clients. Shooting freely is incredible 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 creative vision. They have been my creative vision and ideas, which have sat on a drive or deemed not show worthy as they didn’t fit in with my mainstream marketing which was slightly avant-garde fashion.
I have shot projects of people with tattoo art, real people castings and typically take a camera with me on my vacations and trips for clients. Recce images that generally go in the photo bin are now out there!! My freedom of expression has been suppressed,
My photographic personality is now part of my DNA. I mean 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, which helps you discover and maintain your photographic personality. Your mistakes define your success, and your Process represents your ability.
What is your Process? Let me know 🙂
So to summarise, my observations are that finding your photographic style is part of your Process. Discover what makes you tick, and then follow this path. Shoot open and accessible, and let no one tell you otherwise. It’s your DNA and your work, so follow your instinct and develop your shoot personality.
Photography has been, for me, a form of expression and art. But of late, my photography has become money generating. Now, in general, this is the same for many photographers. Consequently, we have fewer great photographers mainstream as budget diminish and more social influencers without any knowledge about the accurate Process of photography. Merely putting the new camera from Currys on auto and stating you are now a photographer in my eyes doesn’t suffice. There is, like anything, a steady analysis and learning process to 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.