The following is a guest post by Sean Farmer from Photography Tips
It seems lately that most photography falls into one of two styles: gritty, or vibrant. While there are many variants of these styles, such as a dark grit or retro vibrancy, it seems to come back to these two. I can honestly say that I’ve not only noticed this in other people’s works but in my own as well.
I think these two styles are influenced strongly by other mediums such as video games and movies. Which makes sense, considering both have a basis in photography, but which style is better? To really decide you have to look at both styles and understand what each brings to a photograph.
Gritty and Dark
If you’ve ever played a first person shooter, or seen a recent action movie, you will notice a similarity between all of them. They all share a very dark and gritty atmosphere and ambiance that is present through out the experience. This same atmosphere is transmitted into gritty photography.
Just like in the games and movies, gritty photography tends to find a focus among dark, brooding shades of brown and grey with strong contrasts and shadows. This styling creates a serious mood, and offers an almost counter culture appeal to a photograph. You tend to see this style commonly in rock band photography.
Vibrant and Colorful
Children’s television programming, magazines for women, and many lighthearted movies tend to heavily use a vibrant style, portraying an array of colors in a very frivolous manner. These color schemes create the sense of “fun” and good feeling, and just like the style’s counterpart, vibrant photography follows many of the same principles.
Vibrant photos should not be confused with over saturated photos, as there is a strong difference. Unlike over saturation, vibrant images tend to have an array of colors that work together in an almost harmonious manner. The colors are usually neon, pastel, or just bright standard colors. Recently, the idea of creating “retro” looking photos has made vibrant photos a very common place style.
Gritty vs. Vibrant
So which style is better? Well the answer, just like many things photography related, is that the style is completely dependent on the photographer and their ability to create a unique composition. I can honestly say I am a “gritty photographer”, since I do prefer the style, but that does not mean I am opposed to the vibrant style, or even that I do not shoot vibrant. Which I actually do.
Practice both styles, and figure out which one you prefer, or which suits your taste more. Do not limit yourself to a single style though, or you are potentially limiting your own ability as a photographer. A good photographer can shoot both styles easily, but a great photographer can fluently discern exactly what style each individual photo should maintain.
Also, just because most photography in its simplest form can be broken down into these two styles, do not ever think that you have to shoot explicitly as the style dictates. These styles are simply guidelines to allow you to better your own photographic style.
Sean Farmer is a photographer and blogger at Photography Tips. Stop by to get a free eBook on the 7 Essential Photography Tips – (get the eBook here).