Thursday, 7 August 2014

POV: Style Evolution

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Having just returned from Guatemala, I thought of revisiting the photographs I had made during an earlier trip to La Antigua (and some other towns and villages) during the 2002 Semana Santa, and comparing these to my most recent photo gallery Between The Three Volcanoes.

I rarely -if ever- photographed in monochrome at that time, relying on color (whether digital or film), using a 70-200 zoom lens for most of my shots, and essentially shooting for stock and the top photograph (with space for text on either side of the subject) clearly is for. Storytelling or street photography wasn't part of my DNA at that time, and although I was mindful of Costa Mano's advice to shoot more complex images, I was still enamored with simple travel portraits.

Over the years, I witnessed the slow and progressive shift in my aesthetic vision (vision as in seeing rather than its more abstract meaning), and a desire of telling more in one image. Whether I succeed in "complicating" every photograph I make or not is open for debate, but I do try my best in achieving this in the lower photograph from my latest effort in La Antigua during a festive day.

It is only natural that one's craft should evolve over time, and hopefully improve with practice. But these two are different sides of the same coin. My style could've remain static, and I could've kept shooting for stock and simple travel portraits for all these years, and with time, I might have become really good at it.

Alternatively, I am much happier that my style has evolved to being a hybrid of travel-documentary photography, or as someone told me a style where "travel photography meets photojournalism". I still shoot travel portraiture on occasion, as I would shoot street portraiture, but my heart and visual acuity is now much more attuned to the 'complexity' of the lower photograph.

I may not be able to tell a story with every photograph or set of photographs, but the intent is there...bubbling under the surface, and sometimes the photographs fit together like a jigsaw puzzle...and a story is told.