I often wonder if other photographers spend as much time thinking about their techniques and style as I do or whether I’m just an analytical weirdo who somehow chose the art of photography instead of becoming an economist or something of that nature. But then again, the more photographers I meet, the more I realize that most of us are way nerdier than you’d expect, so maybe I’m not that weird after all.
This article was supposed to be the starting paragraph of a photo series I was going to post, but it quickly turned into an analytical rambling on developing one’s style and growing, so I decided to publish it seperately…
My recent trip to Osaka helped me really see which direction I want to take my photography in the future. I’ve been going towards nighttime street photography for a while, but a few things finally clicked on my most recent trip to Japan. Before that, I’d been struggling to capture exactly what I wanted. My post processing was also a bit off, but I’d developed a blindspot to my own style and couldn’t see the faults.
In the recent months I’ve been influenced by a few key names, although none of them know it. Firstly, the growing neoncities community on reddit and instagram helped me focus on this direction. I may have started the subreddit, but didn’t actually except anything to come out of it. It was just one of those late night projects that I wanted to experiment with. Check it out and join our weekly editing collaborations if this style is something close to yours as well.
In addition to that, I’ve been stalking the feeds of David Sark and Jennifer Bin on Instagram, two of my favorite current photographers. While admiring their work, it dawned on me that neither of them use that overly trendy, faded, crushed/lifted black instagram look that I too had been sucked into using for the past year or so. They edit their photos in a much more sophisticated, universally beautiful way. It took me embarrassingly long to fully understand that, but once I did, I knew I too had to change my style.
Essentially, I realized that I had fallen into the classic trap of overprocessing my images according to the current trend on social media, but was also overdoing it.
It’s not that I consciously tried to follow a trend. But I follow a lot of people and browse Instagram daily, many times per day. It’s quite obvious where that influence came from.
Overprocessing is difficult to avoid, because you get desensitized to your own work and edits after a while, and then seek to add more of that magic that seemed to improve the quality of your work in the past. Except now there’s an extra layer that you can no longer see – you’ve developed a blindspot. But I think the key to improving as a photographer is to develop the ability to eventually spot when you’re making mistakes such as these.
It’s almost as if overprocessing or overusing a gimmick is an unavoidable natural step one has to step in order to level up to the next level as a photographer. I find myself doing it over and over again. I’m probably doing it now as well by adding too much contrast. But only time will tell.
Furthermore, I don’t actually have a properly graded editing monitor and do most of my finishing touches of editing on my Note8 phone, so I’m not sure how much that is affecting the final results right now. It’s possible I’m overdoing it with the blacks right now, but I just got into a new style and cannot see it yet.
For my current best work, check out this gallery of shots from Osaka. If you read through this whole article, I’d really appreciate your feedback on both my thoughts and my current style.