The history of art and photography is one of artistic voice. It is not the history of who was most skilled technically at making things looks the most real. We remember great artists like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand and Edward Weston because we are affected by the beauty and strength of these artists' visions.
Finding your vision, your artistic voice, is a very personal journey. No one can show you what inspires you or tell you what to give expression to.
Finding your artistic voice is not about finding a style. When you find clarity in what you want to convey, style will take care of itself. Discover what fascinates you. Look for poetry of shapes, colour and light.
"We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own and other people's models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open."-- Shakti Gawain
When photographing, try to have a clear idea of what you want to express – not in specific detail, but certainly regarding the general mood, light, pattern and structure of the subject. Take some time to understand what you want to say with your photography. Too often we get caught up in just pointing and shooting.
Because of our familiarity with our everyday surroundings, we often fail to appreciate their beauty. So start by studying your subject or your surroundings with an artistic eye. By doing so you will notice many subtleties of which you were not aware. One of the first things you notice is how light (and shadow) affect the appearance of different objects in a variety of ways. Light tells us so much about what is happening in the moment of time that we are photographing.
Remember that each of us looks at the world and personally interprets what we see. In order to learn to see, you need to develop a particular sensitivity and skill. Try not to focus too much on shapes or ideas that can be named. Instead, make your observations on the basis of the picture elements that not only form an image but, in fact, form everything that exist around us. A landscape can be divided into shapes, colours, textures, lines, etc. When you are able to observe the world around you in this way you will discover that your environment is a rich source of ideas to photograph, regardless how mundane it may appear at first.
But there is another side of giving expression to your voice. That's craft. You have to build your expression on the foundation of sound skills. No matter how lofty your vision, it cannot find wings without craft.
Many different working methods are possible in photography, and with experience it is possible to select those techniques that are the most appropriate for the subject matter and effects you have in mind.
Confidence in using a wide range of photographic techniques is something that you acquire gradually. You will gain a greater understanding of the medium, experience photographing various types of subject matter and capturing specific qualities and effects of light. In time, the choice and use of different techniques becomes an instinctive process. However, initially, as in all aspects of developing individual ways of creating images, progress depends on willingness to experiment and commitment to practise and persevere.
Another interesting point about "technique" is that the success of an image is very much influenced by factors such as confidence, enthusiasm and how you feel on that given day. If you are feeling inspired and optimistic about an idea or a subject, you are more likely to photograph with confidence. This will be reflected in your images.
Finding your artistic voice is about who you are and who you are to become. It involves being curious, passionate and bold.
Define your craft, vision and purpose. Good photography comes from inner strength, and from a desire to create something great. Allow yourself to be guided by your feelings, expression and intuition and you will see more clearly and gain depth and insights. Start your journey to becoming more creative and alive.