On finding your voice

I have little to say specifically on how you should (or not), find a style or a look that is identified as you. It is not that I do not believe in a personal style, but i do not believe in forcing or faking it.

Whenever I have touched on the subject, it has always been with the caveat of natural evolution and inspiration as the key.

Basically, you will develop a style or a look, by doing, not by intending to do.

If I look at my own work and try to find something that is mine, not mine only, just mine at the exclusion of other things for me, then I guess it is human interaction, often positive, but not always, in my street images.

I like and am often amused by the coincidental images of wall art framing a foreground person cleverly, or lines ending on one plane and continuing on another, or colours forming strong collisions of shape and the knowing portraits of third world people against a ragged wall but I cannot confess to wanting to emulate them. The thing that constantly draws me and this shows in my image library, is human interaction.

Japan is a great source of inspiration. On our first trip, I must admit to having made many assumptions based on stereo types that were on the whole wrong. As expected the people of Japan are private, polite and respectful, but they are also generous and very demonstrative around friends and family. Even quirky.

Not sure. Flirting? Maybe a bleeding nose (or maybe one on the way)? A failure in many ways due to terrible framing, but a good example.

Not sure. Flirting? Maybe a bleeding nose (or maybe one on the way)? A failure in many ways due to terrible framing, but a good example.

Recurring themes from the first trip to Japan were umbrellas and laughter. On subsequent trips, light hearted and playful images became the norm. The people are affectionate and genuine and this hits a chord with me every time.

Possibly not Japanese, but the theme is the same. The compositional imperative for me was the emotional content. The girls, shoulder craving head came first, then the stronger friends support and later I noticed the contradictory happy face in the back ground to add some irony.

Possibly not Japanese, but the theme is the same. The compositional imperative for me was the emotional content. The girls, shoulder craving head came first, then the stronger friends support and later I noticed the contradictory happy face in the back ground to add some irony.

Even this image, with no overt interaction, hints at other emotional connections, through a positive phone conversation, worry, possibly due to being lost or unsure and a contemplative, controlled and serious face for work. Without these emotions, they are just three (slightly misplaced) visual pillars.

Even this image, with no overt interaction, hints at other emotional connections, through a positive phone conversation, worry, possibly due to being lost or unsure and a contemplative, controlled and serious face for work. Without these emotions, they are just three (slightly misplaced) visual pillars.

Is this limited to Japan? No, of course not, but I have found that different environments force a different dynamic. In Melbourne for example, my images are often based on light and geometry, less about people and I find that irony, even negativity become visual tools. there are exceptions, but the emotion often comes from assumptions and hints rather than being laid bare.

The ease of shooting locally nets a few interactive images. We are more aware of cameras, but are also gentler moving at home. The markets at Evandale and Salamanca in Hobart often give me similar images to Japan, full of "small town" familiarity.

Plenty to laugh about here apparently.

Plenty to laugh about here apparently.

There is interaction at home, even with clothing.

There is interaction at home, even with clothing.

Being a stranger in Japan gives me a naive ability to "steal" away shots without having to understand them. At home I tend to shy away from overt emotional displays as I often find it too intrusive to watch/photograph or, due to my over familiarity, I do not see in the same way the connections the Japanese show.

What ever the reason, happy or sad, loving or not, emotion and connection fuels my eye when shooting street images.

That is my style.