5 Reasons to Define Your Photographic Statement and Become Visually Identifiable

Un exemple de mon style 'Back to Black'. Cerf élaphe pendant le brame du cerf. Ce style s'intègre totalement dans ma démarche photographique. Photo en noir et blanc par Amar Guillen.
An example of my style 'Back to Black'. A red deer stag during the rut of the deer. This style is totally integrated in my photographic statement.

Defining your Photographic Statement Is Not a Question of Gear

Theoretically, defining your photographic statement should be done before you even buy a camera.

As you may have noticed, I have not made any reference to photographic material in the definition of the photographic statement, either in the vision or in the photographic signature.

Your photographic statement is above all a question of personality and of soul.

In reality, this is unthinkable. How can you ask someone to explain how they are going to show what they see if they don't have a minimum of photographic techniques? It is impossible. We are human beings. We learn by successive experiences. We have successes and failures. We affirm our choices over time. We build ourselves through experience and exposure. But the fact remains that the material should not be a consideration in the setting up of your photographic statement.

You have to ignore your gear when defining your artistry. Your equipment is only used to go in the field to take pictures. It is only an accessory for your approach.

Let me give you a specific example. I'm a wildlife photographer who likes large wild mammals. Since I shoot a lot in Europe, I have to use a fast camera with a long focal length. The animals are hunted. They are very fearful and do not let themselves be approached. Even when I am on the lookout, the shooting distance is quite long. If the animals were not hunted like those living in certain regions of the United States, I could very well use shorter lenses.

Does using a long focal length or a short focal length have an impact on my photographic statement? The answer is no. The choice of my equipment depends only on the terrain and the scenes to photograph. When you define your photographic statement, think only about how you see the world and how you want to show it.

Developing Your Photos Reinforces Photographic Statement

I often hear photographers tell me that they don't develop their photos. Their argument is that a photo is enough on its own. It must speak without artifice.

I also noticed that these photographers do not know how to use a computer, let alone development software. They hide their incompetence behind their false arguments.

When I analyze the activity and the photographic production of well-known photographers, I have noticed that despite the theme, all their photos are developed with the greatest care. Don't think that the digital revolution is the reason for this. Even photographers like Ansel Adams had assistants who developed his pictures in the darkroom. This is not the subject of this column, but you would be surprised to see Ansel Adams' before and after photos. It is essential that you know how to develop your photos.

The photographic development is the reinforcement of your photographic statement.

When you develop, you will accentuate the strong points and attenuate the weak points of your photographs.

At this point, I'm not saying that developing will allow you to create good photos. Shooting is 75% of creating a good photo. The remaining 25% lies in the development.

The development is the step that will make the difference in your photos. It is the one that will make them different and interesting.

Again, let me give you an example. Imagine that you are in a deer stand photographing deer. You are three people. You are all equipped with the same photographic equipment. When a deer comes on the scene, you will photograph in much the same way. Eventually, your pictures will look the same.

If you want to create and show pictures that are different from the other two people, the only way to do so is with a computer. Here you will bring your personal touch.

Do You Need to Define Your Photographic Statement?

At this point in the column, you are probably wondering if you need a definition of your photographic statement.

My answer is simple: it all depends on how demanding you are when it comes to making your photos. It all depends on how demanding you are of your own life.

If you view photography as a chance to use a camera to make images to post on social networks to show what you are doing every moment of your life, the definition of a photographic statement is useless.

If the purpose of your photographic activity is just to flatter your ego by showing gallery photos on your phone from the latest trips you've taken just to impress the gallery and show others that you have the means to do certain things, then the definition of a photographic statement is useless.

If you want to go further in the realization and creation of your photos by making them interesting and giving them meaning, then you need to define your photographic statement.

If you want to make people happy and develop your empathic qualities, then you need to define a photographic statement.

If photography is a way for you to express yourself and show who you are, then I recommend that you develop your photographic statement.

Defining Your Photographic Statement Reveals Your Photographic Identity

Today, in more than any other time in human history, our environment influences our lives.

The media noise, whether it is from television, newspapers or social networks, is blurring our lives.

We have a hard time focusing on our values and ideals. I notice that many people around me are gradually losing their free will.

For photography, I mean that in the face of this media hubbub, many photographers have no personal reference points. Their creative personality fades away little by little. They let themselves go with the wind of social networks and media.

I am convinced that it is necessary to be interested in others in order to progress, improve, and find inspiration. But we must do it in an intelligent way. We must remain experts of our own free will.

We should not listen to the judgments of others. The important thing is to analyze objective facts. They allow us to introspect. Don't forget that your photographic statement is you. The way you look at the world must be a conscious action, thought out, and evaluated on the basis of objective facts.

You have all the roots within you to develop a personal approach. Don't be overwhelmed by the media noise. Develop your photographic skills by cultivating yourself, not by ingesting premade data.

Defining your photographic statement means finding your photographic identity.

Reason #1 to Define Your Photographic Statement: Being Identifiable

The first reason to define your own photographic statement is to make yourself identifiable.

Everyday billions of photographs are taken in the world with different devices: mobiles, tablets, cameras. These photos are published on social networks, websites, in magazines, and books. In fact, everywhere possible.

I call this phenomenon photographic noise, because despite the profusion of photos produced, few are innovative, different, and meaningful. In short, few are interesting.

The problem with photographic noise is how to spot the good pictures amongst the mass of others. How do you make yourself visible? The answer is simple: be different and interesting by adopting a photographic statement.

If you do, you will not emerge abruptly from the photographic noise. It is much too loud. It sweeps away everything in its path. But you will get the attention of a few people who will become loyal. These people will share your photos or tell others about you. Little by little, you will build up an audience.

By definition, an audience chooses that which to give attention, the interest given by the public to a person, a thing, an action.

By adapting a photographic statement with a photographic vision and signature, people will be attracted by your creations. They will come back to see what you do. You will become identifiable.

The definition of a photographic statement is not intended to make you liked by everyone. Never forget that in this case, you will become average whereas you seek the opposite. You want to strive for excellence.

Reason #2 to Define Your Photographic Statement: Being Effective in the Field

The second reason to define your photographic statement is to become efficient in your photo projects.

If you want to build and create interesting, creative, meaningful photos that look like you, you must prepare your photographic project. This is a necessary condition.

You will define it according to your photographic statement. You will stay on the rails that guide you. I want to remind you that the definition of a photo project is a purely intellectual exercise. It is prepared before the shooting.

Once on the field, you are in the phase of the construction of your photos. Time, weather conditions, and natural elements will be your main obstacles. You must not have any other preventable distractions. You must know exactly what you want to photograph, how to photograph it, and how you will show it.

You won't waste time. You will be efficient.

This is one of the goals of defining a photographic statement.

This is also why I recommend that you know it by heart. Once in the field, it will become a mantra to guide you.

Reason #3 to Define Your Photographic Statement: Crafting a Legacy

You may practice photography just to take pictures of vacations or moments that you want to keep for the future.

Lasting over time is not a concern for you. If lasting in time is a concept that drives you, then we are alike.

In this case, I advise you to clearly define your photographic statement. It will not only guide you through your photo projects, but also establish strong links between them.

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You will see your projects as a whole, where each element has its place. Your photographic activity will become a puzzle where each piece will be a different photo project. All the projects will fit into each other to become a harmonious and coherent whole. Your photographic statement with your vision and your signature will be the link.

Throughout your life, you apply the elements of your photographic statement to build a real edifice.

Your message will be strong. It will be audible. Your photographic statement will give consistency to your photos. You will last in time.

Reason #4 to Define Your Photographic Statement: Finding Happiness and Satisfaction

As I explained in another column, photography obeys a simple rule: the photographic virtuous circle. I have already elaborated on this concept and thus will not spend any time discussing the definition of this essential concept.

The goal of this circle is to increase your happiness and satisfaction with the photos you will create.

A good definition of your photographic statement will make your life as a photographer much easier.

Indeed, by adopting a photographic statement, you will be constantly discovering new projects. You will progress. You will improve and generate more interesting photos. Your audience will follow you regularly. You will be happy and satisfied with your photographic creations.

If you don't maintain your photographic statement, you will simply photograph what you see. You won't be imaginative because you won't have thought about your photos beforehand. You will do what others have already done. You won't create an audience. You won't get any rave reviews for your photos. Finally, you will be disillusioned! You will get bored. You will likely quit photography and move on to another activity.

Reason #5 for Defining Your Photographic Statement: Pursuing Photographic Intentionality

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