Do you have a signature?
I refer not to the blurb at the bottom of your posts which lists your name, Web site and camera brand of choice, but rather, to a stylistic or thematic element inherent in many (or all) of your images.
What got me thinking about signature is the comment someone left elsewhere on one of my seascape images.
The commentator told me that he loved the mood I captured, and that he believes it is a signature of my landscape images.
So what is a signature?
A signature element could be represented by any one or a combination of the following elements:
- composition (let's ignore the basic rule of thirds for this discussion);
- colour saturation or lack thereof;
- aspect ratio (eg, you shoot 3:1 panos exclusively);
- some particular subject matter (rock, teapot, old chair, etc.);
- post-processing techniques which achieve a certain 'look';
- use of vignetting; and
- use of extreme darkness or lightness.
There could be even more types of signature elements.
More importantly than aesthetic elements, is there a theme or pervasive message in your images?
What about your images would cause people to recognise the photographer from the image alone, and say "Oh, that looks like a <name>."?
Looking at my own images, here's what I can offer about them in terms of signature:
- Firstly, I am very fussy about light. It needs to be golden, blue, stormy or bleak.
- I like a lot of contrast and colour saturation in my 'scapes, but not too much colour to the point of excessive saturation, though.
- My seascapes often capture either movement (cascading water) or at the opposite end of that scale, the complete lack of water movement.
- I like wide vistas for 'scapes, and tight crops for portraits.
- In my portraits, I tend to almost always shoot at quirky angles. Straight-up head-and-shoulders shots don't often do it for me, so I like to skew the camera's angle for some dynamism.
- In my post-processing, I use a lot of selective processing techniques to enhance contrast, colour, texture, darkness and lightness.
I'd be interested in hearing what people recognise (or have been told) to be signature elements in their own work. Naturally, I'd like to see some images which illustrate these signature elements.
Perhaps many people have not consciously thought about the existence of signature elements in their images, so if nothing else, hopefully this line of discussion will conjure some self-analysis of one's collection of work, to see if there is a consistent and perhaps recognisable signature present.