As an artist personal taste and style plays a BIG role in what you photograph, who, when, where, how, and why. I would venture to say that it is the single most driving factor in your style. It is important that we, as artists, accept this and learn to live with it. Instead of down-talking someone else’s style or taste in photography, we should allow them to do what they may.
Most of the time when I have a potential client come to me and ask for photos I almost always hear the same words: classy, elegant, nice, pretty, sexy, and edgy.
When I ask them to explain these words to me, and what they mean, no one really can. I give them options here and there and they always seem to fumble around the words to figure out what to tell me. Then, if they ever do tell me, they are often shy and turn away from me or their face gets red. Sometimes they never come back after that pivotal conversation and I loose a client…which on some levels is fine. They probably weren’t my client anyway. On other levels, not really good.
Then it dawned on me…I haven’t told anyone what “classy” means to me…so how can I expect them to tell me what it means to them?
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine and in discussing an up-coming shoot of his, he said “I don’t mind pushing the limits but I also don’t want to be seen as “that” photographer as my work is being build with classy as its reputation.”
So I said to my friend, “let me ask you this…what is “classy?” Is my work less classy than your work because I photograph women in nothing or next to nothing? Is implied nude less classy than full nude or vice versa? Classy is YOU and how you see the world.
To say “I want my work to be classy” you are saying what exactly? Does that mean “I want my work to be of women with clothes on” or “I want my work to be of women with very little clothing?”
Personally, my own style, when I say “I want my work to be classy” I mean “I don’t care what you wear or don’t wear. When people see you they should see the beauty that is you before what you’re wearing.””
That, to me, is classy. As I told my friend, I have no limits on wardrobe and what a woman should wear or not wear for her time with me. I understand the whole conservative side of things. That, however, is not really me. I will not limit someone when they come to me. My photo shoots are an experience and should be looked at as a release from the conventional. So if a woman wants to come to me and show her body, so be it. She will do it in an environment where she will not be judged for it and safe. Same with a man.
Interpretation. That’s it. It all boils down to interpretation of the artist and client.
When people see what I do, most of the time, they say “wow…that’s beautiful…” before they say “wow, nice tits.” Though I do have a few friends like that and several fans like that whom always leave comments like that on my photos. Comes with narrow-mindedness though…what you gonna do? I just remind them that what I do is “classy” and if they are seeing sexuality before beauty, that is their misconception or misinterpretations.
The people I photograph work hard on their body and they are looking to showcase it in as perfect a way as possible. If they interpret that to include clothes, so be it. If not, so be it. I am just an artist and I work with the tools that people put in my hands…not what they take away!
I think it is part of the human nature to be critical. I am critical…but a lot of it is turned inward instead of outward. I may criticize the lack of professionalism from certain photographer…or the lack of preparation in dealing with a client, but I will not criticize the style of their art. I may not like it and I may not like THEM as a person, but I appreciate it for what it is…art. It may not match my personal style…but it is still art.
I know it’s cliche, but you know that saying, “haters gonna hate”? I’ve got one of my own…”creators gonna create.” So do what you do and keep moving forward!!! That should be the motto that we all live by. We all start somewhere and we all appreciate beauty in different ways. As long as we aren’t imposing ourselves on others or breaking the law, leave people alone.
It is about 90% true that the general public – especially where I am from in KY – will not appreciate what you do as art. You’ll be damned to Hell, you’ll be preached at, and people tell you that everything you do is “porn” (unless it really is porn and even then, keep going). Keep with it though. You’ll eventually find those that will and they will come to you as an artist to create what you do.
People will do what people will do. They will talk, they will hate, and slander your name. No matter what you say or do people will misinterpret what you do as one thing when you really mean another. It is the job of the artist to do what they do and create what they create. In the end, their fans will find them and follow them. Those that do not will move on to something completely different.
Acceptance is key in this life. You want to be happy? Accept what comes to you. That is what makes art beautiful and what keeps you coming back.
So the next time a potential client comes to you and says “I want to be sexy…but classy…” tell them what your definition of “classy” is and see if you cannot connect. If not, they aren’t your client! If you do, happy shooting!