Do you need a style?

When you start off in photography, everybody tells you to establish your own style. They say that if you want to succeed artistically, you have to be coherent and stand for one thing.

It all sounds fine, but what if you do not want to be coherent? What if you prefer to experiment and constantly try new things or approaches? Aren't you afraid that you may censor yourself by not sharing work that may be deemed incoherent? And does it mean that your creative freedom is gone?

A difference between business and… self-indulgence?

I would argue that to answer these questions, you have to ask yourself another question first: why are you making photographs in the first place.

Are you doing it to pay your bills and put bread on your table? If the answer is yes, you are a business. And as such, you need to behave accordingly. In order to be successful, a business has to be trustworthy, dependable and predictable. In this context, innovation should be evolutionary and not revolutionary. Would you give your hard-earned money to a business if tomorrow they switched from producing cars to sofas? Would you trust a brand which two days ago made cheese, yesterday changed to light bulbs and today launched a new line of shoes? I wouldn't. And money can be equated to power/influence, so if you do it for fame, politics or philanthropy – same principles should apply.

But what if you do it to scratch your own itch? If your bills are paid, you create in order to find a channel for your emotions. In my view, this grants you a full liberty of expression, and should free you from caring about consistency of style.

I guess only you know the answers for yourself. But don't be afraid to ask these questions.

Further reads/watches: (30 Days of Genius –
interview with Seth Godin) (Joe Edelman on style)