Shot in 1993 with a Canon EOS-1 and the first version of the
85mm 1.1.2 L lens. Paris, France. Agfapan 400.
There's two ways to look at style. One is tied to the idea of fashion and what is fashionable. This idea rewards constant changes of approach in order to incorporate the lighting of the day, the subject matter of the moment and the presentation of the minute. Just last year many photographers rushed to make images that made liberal use of the "clarity" slider in PhotoShop, along with multiple backlights and a healthy dose of dynamic range manipulation via the shadow and highlight sliders that showed up, en masse, in most image processing programs.
The other way to look at style is to perceive it as the leitmotif of the long term arc of an artist. How do they routinely like to approach and display subjects. And what are the pervasive consistencies over time. We like artists who can innovate while staying true to their basic nature. That's what makes them powerful.
In time, given the number of monkeys typing and the vast spending power of the marketplace, people in the first camp will, within weeks of the birth of a new style, be able to buy a canned filter set that will allow them to make work that superficially looks like the work of the latest "wunderkind". (When did we go German?????). Take a shot, dump it in PS, hit the art filter button and sit back while the little magic squirrels on the wheels take control and make your work look like everyone else's. Indeed, we can see this all over the share sites right now. And there's a huge number of self-promotion videos in which today's acknowledged instant photo celebrities show you have to look like them...
It's not so easy in the second camp. It requires shooting and shooting and looking and shooting. And watching the natural evolution of a style that is demonstrably both yours and long term at the same time. And it may be nothing like what you expected when you started. There is value to playing scales and learning method but it's all just filling time if all you ever do is sit around playing the opening measures of "Stairway to Heaven" for the rest of your life.
Nabokov became rich and well known by writing like Nabokov. None of the rest of a generation of Nabokov imitators made it out of the gates. The style that counts is the style that comes over years and decades, not the one you can get out of can.
I'm still working on mine. But it's one of those miserable Zen things. If you focus on style it eludes you. It only works when you forget to work on style and just respond to the things you attract to the front of your camera......