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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Thirty-Five: How style and interpretation combine as expression tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Thirty-Five: How style and interpretation combine as expression

As a photographer and teacher of visual expression, I make pictures reflecting my own feelings and ideas about what I see. I am not just recording or describing what I see with my camera. I am interpreting it – photographically conveying meaning. I do this in my own way, by applying my own photographic style. I define “photographic style” as how I make my choices in light, time, and space to interpret the subject.

In this gallery, I’ll show you what goes into my own photographic style, and also show you how I interpret the meaning of my subjects. In some cases, I will demonstrate multiple ways of expressing meaning using the same basic subjects, and how my own photographic style helps me do this.

My photographic style has emerged over years of shooting. I did not find it in a book or copy it from other photographers. The individual elements of my shooting style are not unique in themselves. It is how I choose to put them to work in an image that makes them my own. I have often told my students that we are what we photograph and we photograph what we are. Our imagery reflects our own personalities, interests, tastes, experiences, and photographic purposes. I do not use my photographic style to impose a “unique look” on my pictures. I use my photographic style to interpret the meaning of my subjects. My style is inseparable from my interpretive purpose. One cannot exist without the other.

I don’t use technical tricks or devices to express my style. I am not a technician. Content is more important to me than form. Nor do I depend on Photoshop to give my images a distinct look or feel. I use Photoshop as I would use a darkroom – to correct and enhance my images, but not manipulate them. My photographic style simply reflects the way I see, and the way I choose to work with a camera. I do not follow any specific photographic rules, nor do I shoot to meet perceived expectations of my viewers. I do not consider my images to be good or bad, right or wrong, best or worst. Such value judgments have no place in expressive photography. Rather than trying to make “popular pictures” or pictures that will look as “good or better” than somebody else’s pictures, I concentrate on expressing my own point of view of the subject. I hope my viewers will find that that my interpretations will stimulate their own emotions, imaginations and intellects.

I do not seek to impose my own photographic style on any other photographers. I speak with my voice, and other photographers must speak with theirs. We may use similar concepts, but each of us must do so in our own way. I hope that this gallery can give you insights into developing your own photographic style, and help you to better interpret your own subject matter to your own viewers.

This gallery is presented in "blog" style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a detailed caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. If you click on the large thumbnail, you can see it in its full size, as well as leave comments and read the comments of others. I hope you will be able to participate in the dialogue. I welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions, and will be delighted to respond.