Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Early Hints of an Evolving Style

It takes years to develop a style. Often one's style only becomes apparent after taking the time to step back, look at an entire body of work and identify the commonality and persistent themes present in individual images as they float to the top.

On those occasions people have commented on my "style" of photography, I usually walk away wondering what "style" do they mean, what are they seeing and is it something I'm not seeing?

Lately I've been digging through a lot of old negs, some almost 30 years old. There's a tremendous amount of crap in those files, some really bad pictures. But they have value in that they are providing a context for the evolution of my photography. Amongst all that swirling debris something occasionally pops to the surface giving me a hint of what was deep down there, struggling to find a place in the forefront of my consciousness. Hints of a style that would come to dominate my creative work.

Recently a friend of mine commented on the image above made 23 years ago, saying, "You've been doing this for quite a while." He's right. But when I made this image I didn't realize I was making something that would eventually be recognized as my "style." It was there all along, I just had to spend a lot of years coaxing it out of it's hiding place. I'm not sure I've been entirely successful, but at least I now know for sure where it lives.

Photo: ©1988 David W.Sumner

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