Back in the game

With bits of sharp sticks needling at my legs, crunchy leaves attaching to my tights and the damp ground cold against my knees, I felt back in the game.

Quick edit from a recent meetup. Model: Stephanie Pearl Peregrine , crown: Pendulous Threads


Non-stop. That could easily be the title of the last few months and to be honest, it’s mostly my own fault. I’ve never been good at relaxing or doing nothing, I’ll easily work myself to exhaustion. But photography hasn’t been part of what I’ve been working on for a while. It’s been constantly on my mind, but I haven’t worked on actually doing anything. My ideas haven’t felt ‘good enough’ so I just stopped and worked on other things. But the less I worked on my photography, the fewer ideas I came up with.

Sparks of creative genius are a myth and I know that. You can’t wait around for ideas, you have to work for them. But self-doubt, especially when it comes to creativity, can be crippling.

For me, shoots come with the pressure to deliver. I worry that I’m not as communicative as other photographers, that I’m not as sure of what I want, that my need to me creative on the spot comes off as indecisiveness and that I’m not going to get shots the model will be happy with. I’ve never had feedback to this effect, but I worry.

So, for me, this is why meet ups are so important. Scraping my hands and snagging my tights while climbing into trees, while hoping I didn’t smack my camera too hard as it swings from my neck, just to try out something that probably won’t work with fellow photographers who won’t care if it works is important.

I’ve been to a few recently and while the ideas aren’t arriving any more easily, I’m pushing through and working harder.

Finding a style

One of the best things you learn when starting out with photography and photoshop is the huge range of things you can do and create. Film, digital, bright and airy, dark and moody, barely retouched, full on composites, painterly, hyper-real etc. And that’s without really considering subject matter.

It’s easy to dive in, face first, trying everything you can find a tutorial for and, honestly, I recommend it.

Some choices have been obvious to me, I tend to gravitate towards portraits and darker images. But otherwise, I’ve floundered a bit. Experimentation is great, but I’m at the point where I need to be a bit more specific with my style choices. Which is surprisingly tough.

Often I’ll have a style idea in my head, but just can’t get it to work. Or I’ll be trying to smoosh together styles that contradict each other (painterly and hyper-real are my own troublesome twosome). Then, eventually, I manage an image that is almost there:

London creative portraiture

There are elements of the image I’m not too keen on, but I like that it looks like a painting and a photo. I think it’s a step towards nailing a more specific style.

I’ll still push my boundaries and experiment, but I don’t want to flail about stylistically.

But there’s also the concern that my style is unique, that it’s mine. Brooke Shaden and Miss Aniela both include painterly as part of their style and as much as I love their work, I don’t want my images to look like theirs. The image above definitely has Miss Aniela influences, but I’m also hoping there are enough differences to make it mine.

I don’t know, how do you judge these things? And do you ever decide on a style or just naturally gravitate towards one? Or is there a third choice, where you never actually get there, you just keep evolving?

Holland Park meetup

Intergrowth by Stevie-Ella Photography

Models: Holly-Rose and Sophie Carefull

This meetup was so cold but so much fun! Somewhere between sixty to eighty of us turned up and scattered across Holland Park, taking pictures of each other. I pushed my way into ferny overgrowth and had my hair styled into an upside down ice cream cone for other people’s pictures and asked similarly bizarre things of fellow photographers. I think that’s my favourite things about these meetups, the other photographers get the odd ideas.

Model: Federica Tenti

Model: Federica Tenti

Wholly intertwined by Stevie-Ella Photography

Model: Holly-Rose

Peasant and the peahen by Stevie-Ella Photography

Model: Federica Tenti

Fall

Model: Stephanie Peregrine

Whisp by Stevie-Ella Photography

Model: Federica Tenti

We are eternal, we will not last by Stevie-Ella Photography

Models: Federica Tenti and Stephanie Peregrine

Twinned by Stevie-Ella Photography

Models: Federica Tenti and Stephanie Peregrine

If you remember by Stevie-Ella Photography

Model: Anna Petterle

Links:

Holly-Rose

Sophie Carefull

Federica Tenti

Stephanie Peregrine

Anna Petterle