One of the best ways to develop your skills as a photographer is to look at as many photographs as you can. I’m not talking about flicking through your Instagram feed for a couple of minutes every morning, I am talking about really looking at photographs.
As photographers, we all strive to develop a personal style and to do this a visual vocabulary is essential. Sadly there is no visual vocabulary setting on our cameras, we have to do some work. We have to look at as many photographs, by as many different photographers as possible, and as many different types, or genres, of photography as we can find.
So where do we find this inspiration? The internet is a obvious resource and I find Podcasts a wonderful resource. There are a number of excellent photography podcasts where you can hear interviews with photographers working in all fields of photography. simple Google search will yield hundreds of photographs to look at. The pitfall is that we generally search for photographers we know or subjects we like. We need to look a little further afield.
Another place you are sure to find inspiration, and to see quality photography, is on the Magnum website. Magnum is a photo agency which is really a collective photographers. Membership of Magnum is based on receiving a majority acceptance vote among the members.
One thing you will notice very quickly is that many of the photographers are working around the same subjects but their photographs are very different, that is because each of them have developed a style and vocabulary of their own.
Mark power and Martin Parr are both British photographers and are members of Magnum.
You may be familiar with Martin Parr’s work. He works almost exclusively in colour, uses a flash on his camera even in daylight, and gets up-close to his subjects. He has an eye for the details that reveal the quirks of human behaviour. Mark Power is almost the complete opposite – his work is quieter.
Both of them have photographed the beach, and how people use the beach, as part of a photography project. Their approach could not be more different. Take a look at these two bodies of work and I hope that you find them as inspirational and instructive as I do.
Find their work here:
Martin Parr – Life’s a Beach
Mark Power – The Shipping Forecast