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Finding a style in your photography: study Vincent Van Gogh’s last painting

March 31, 2019
Style photography Van Gogh

Finding a personal style in landscape and street photography is important to express our point of view in life. In my opinion if you don’t have a personal style you’ll never be a real artist. Style is about composition, content, post-production and even editing. “Style is your footprint”.

Today is more difficult to find a personal vision in photography (and art). Think about modern street photography, how many silouettes and images with contrast between shadows and lights you can see on social media like Instagram and Facebook. Usually our vision becomes the same of other people, in the sense that we photograph what other persons like. This is a problem as i said in my previous article about lights and shadows in modern street photography.


Finding a style in your photography

Don’t overthink when you’re shooting on the streets. Photograph from your gut and heart what you really like. Don’t think to other styles or to standards in social media. Take pictures in this way for at least a month, then open your HD and review your work. What do you have photograph? People? Wall? Portraits? Lovers? Homeless? Maybe the photos are really bad or good, that’s not important for the moment. What is important is that probably you have photographed things that you really like. Same for the composition and form. This is only the first step to find a personal style in your street photography.

Second step: don’t upload immediatly your photos on internet, wait, let them marinate in your mind. After edit photos you prefer. Third step: do you really like your view? Perfectly, continue to shoot in this way for another month. After a year probably you’ll see something in your work: a style. You have to master your style, change it, perfect it: do it with your personal vision and preferences. Don’t do this for others but just for you.

When you’ll have a personal style you’ll photograph who you are, as Bruce Gilden said. This means to be a real artist in my opinion.

Vincent Van Gogh’s last masterpiece: Wheat field with Crows

Looking to Vincent Van Gogh‘s life and works we can easily understand what does it mean finding a style. Van Gogh has been one of the best artist ever existed. His life was tormented by the failure. His friendship with Gaugain sometimes was dramatic. Few people liked his paintings infact Van Gogh sold about 2-3 works in his life, probably bought by a brother’s friend. Many people said that his art was really bad and that he was only a crazy man.

Despite all Vincent Van Gogh continued to paint what he felt and loved. When he worked on his canvas he didn’t think to find a way to satisfy other people. He painted his vision of nature and life from his gut, instinctively. He spent a lot of time in painting: sometimes he made 1-2 pictures in a day. He loved nature and his art, and so he went on, day by day till the end of his journeys.

Style photography Van Gogh

We can try to summerize Van Gogh’s style looking at his last masterpiece, probably also the last work: The wheat field with crows. He didn’t paint a simple wheatfield in front of his eyes because painting is not the representation of reality for him. I agree and think the same thing about photography. We have to photograph reality using our heart and brain. We have to capture reality seen through our eyes. Don’t reproduce things as they are!

The wheatfield with crows represents Van Gogh’s final vision of life according to his personal style. The painting is a pano composition, he used the rule of thirds.  We can see the strong contrast between cold and hot colors. Van Gogh used chromatic decomposition and directional stroke to give more dynamism and vitality to the scene. This painting is a powerful color explosion, light is strong, there is energy. The color is spread with energy and violence in an angry way.

Van Gogh reveals his mood through nature. He didn’t paint a simple wheat field in front of him. He used nature to express his feelings and his vision of life projecting his state of mind on the canvas. You have to do the same thing in your photography. Try to express yourself finding a style (both form and content). In this painting there is a dark sky and black crows: it’s an omen, a pessimistic view of life and nature. Painting a street that goes nowhere Van Gogh tried to tell us that there is nothing at the end of life.

The wheat field with crows is a dramatic scene, we can feel the tension in the air. It’s an adverse and screaming nature. So Van Gogh took a landscape in front of his eyes and painted it using his view, he didn’t try to reproduce reality neither to satisfy art critics of the period. He had a personal style, he was a real artist. Let’s do the same in your photography. At first try to impress yourself.


Stay well, have always light in your life

Best, F.S

Read more articles about art:

Loneliness: Edward Hopper and street photography

 Surrealism in street photography, painting and cinema

Red: photography, painting and cinema

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