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Holger Pooten
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08/08/16
Developing your own Style happens in a Dark Room

When I was a child I dreaded road trips, we’d always stop in some godforsaken place and wait for hours while my dad took pictures of ugly things…

Developing your own Style happens in a Dark Room

I could never figure out why, but I imagined that one day when I had my own camera (and taken some photography courses) I’d definitely find prettier subjects to photograph like flowers and aeroplanes. In the meantime, my friends were going to Disneyland and I was stuck out in the middle of nowhere and bored. These days, my portfolio is full of pictures of ugly things (thanks Dad). Forlorn buildings, ruins, graveyards, places that once were. I can hear a ten-year-old me asking what happened to those flowers, and adult me explaining that those just aren’t as interesting to me now because they don’t tell a story. It’s the job of a photographer to take a second look; find out more – use your eyes and listen carefully.

In a time of social media shares, Instagram hits and incredible lenses built right into our mobile phones, there are a lot of people who like to consider themselves photographers after that lucky accident that turned out better than expected. True photography takes time, it takes patience, and it takes as much an understanding of yourself as what’s going on around you.

The camera you have sitting on your desk is so much more than a techy gadget with a megapixel count. It takes a life of experiences that you build on in order to figure out what it is you’re trying to say, and to find that creative style that conveys your message.

And while there is a place for technology in art, being a photographer isn’t measured by the number of megapixels crammed into your DSLR. A good photo breaks past its two dimensions to become a scene that strikes with your audience’s imagination. Photography gives us the incredible freedom to use reality as a canvas to talk about the things that are important to us, and to share our message of love, of pain, of fear, of visual beauty – and ugliness.

So why bother with all the trappings of the craft of photography if we can snap away with our phones or DSLRs and even make those images look pretty and professional with a smart app? Well, there is value to being able to snap away – as Chase Jarvis said, the best camera is the one you have with you. But while snapping the moment is a wonderful phenomenon of the digital age, to what degree does it allow you to manipulate, express and understand light?

With a love for the craft of photography comes a respect for our surroundings, a desire to learn about light, and a curiosity about what’s lurking in the shadows. And by developing that craft, we might make even the ugly beautiful.