It's hard to talk about your own work. It used to feel self serving and too introspective but recently I made up a fun exercise that helps. I used a simple sentence to describe some classic photographers and found you could use it to describe your own work and best of all create new projects and ideas as well.
It's a simple formula:
- NAME is known for shooting SUBJECT in a NAME OF STYLE. The images are most commonly described as THREE ADJECTIVES.
This sounds simple and it is. Here are some examples of photographers I love.
- Diane Arbus is known for shooting people on the edge of society in a documentary style. The images are most commonly described as humanizing, evocative and disturbing.
- Chikako is known for shooting flowers in a dreamlike style. The images are most commonly described as painterly, organic and hypnotic.
- Susan Meiselas is known for shooting Latin American conflict in a documentary style. The images are most commonly described as raw, emotional and close to the action.
Using the same formula and describing my tattoo project in this way is pretty easy too.
- Dan Dao is known for shooting tattoo artists in a documentary style. The images are most commonly described as natural, personal and straightforward.
Secondly using this same formula you can remix parts to find new styles and approaches to things. Take the Diane Arbus description and change "people on the edge of society" to "softball players" or "pet snakes". You can take that style and description and use it as a framework for approaching a new subject. Maybe the images would be duds but it can get you thinking in new ways. How would Arbus shoot a softball catcher?
Photographers and artists can't reinvent the wheel on every project but they can remix ideas and subjects in new styles. This simple word play exercise really helped me define my work and gives me endless options for projects in the future. I hope you're ready for...
Dan Dao is known for shooting taco trucks in a macro photography style. The images are most commonly described as bright, colorful and yummy.