Photographic Personality

Do we have a photographic personality? What does this mean? Well, do you think you can determine a photographers personality from the images they create? Handwriting can be analysed, can our images?

Are landscape photographers drawn to open spaces due to their desire for solitude and fondness of the great outdoors. Their physical endurance may be challenged perhaps hiking for miles and camping out on hillsides to rise at dawn for their perfect shot. Colin Prior sprang to mind as I was writing this. Are they weather forecasters at one with the elements. A practical personality documenting the world around them with no control over the scenery or weather conditions. Withdrawing into the wilderness to escape the need for interaction. Perhaps that is taking the theory too far.

How to define others. The Portrait Photographer. In contrast to the landscape photographer they exert a great deal of control within their environment, precision through lighting techniques, a natural unwillingness to leave things to chance perhaps an aspect of their personality. It could be argued that this is a more technical genre as you are not only considering your camera settings but also lighting settings and posing/directing your model. Do portrait photographers have more complex personalities, are they perhaps anxious if they cannot exert control over these variables. Enjoying interaction with others within their own parameters whilst maintaining the ability to keep others at a distance acceptable to them. They hold all the cards in control terms.

Still Life and Macro photographers may be another step along the solitary path from studio photographers as their interaction is with inanimate objects, food or plants. Do their personalities reflect this? You would imagine they must be happy spending long periods of time in their own company. They have less need for interaction and absorb themselves in the detail of making their images. Reserved, quiet, careful, with an acute sense of attention to detail.

Travel, Sports and Fashion photographers it would be fair to assume are passionate about the subject they have made their career photographing. Documenting your love of a hobby or pastime through your camera. Your personality would then possibly come through in the style of the images rather than through the subject matter.

There are many other types of photography but lets look at just one more. The Street Photographer of course! Life on the fringes. Intrigued by others and the stories of their lives but happy to observe from a distance and only interacts when necessary. What does that say about us? Quite private but curious about everything going on around us and the relationships strangers have with each other. Sociologists with cameras trying to understand the dynamics of the stories and everyday scenes they photograph.

As I was writing these thoughts down I was thinking about the photographers I know and trying to decide if there is any evidence that their personalities come through in their work. The conclusion was, probably not although some do have a recognisable styles. Whether that is relatable to personality I’m not so sure. I suspect we are all a mixture of the above traits with the common denominator being an interest in photography. Some people say they will photograph anything but perhaps thats only because they are the extroverts amongst us!

Whatever your personality, and whether it is apparent in your work or not, the most important thing is to enjoy making your images.

2 thoughts on “Photographic Personality

  1. As a portrait photographer, I thought your analysis was pretty close. The mix of control and chance is perhaps even more exaggerated for me as I do (did before lockdown) a fair bit of staged, narrative photography, and would sometimes have a small team involved.
    What I do know about myself and a few other portrait photographers is we mostly tend to like and be interested in other people. We’re naturally more friendly, empathetic and have a desire to make people feel more relaxed and empowered. Quite simply, you can’t do decent portrait photography if your client is tense!
    Great article 🙂


    1. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to read through the blog. I used to live in Dumfries and Galloway and am familiar with your work. Such a difficult time for businesses in these Covid ridden times. Hope it all bounces back busier than ever once we come out of lockdown and that in the meantime there has been increased interest in your online classes and blog. Personally I’m just waiting for LD to lift and people to emerge from their homes. Edinburgh city centre is extremely quiet as you can imagine. Its quite surreal!


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