There’s an interesting post today on Conscientious about shtick. I have thought about this topic a lot in my time as a taker of pictures. Shtick has made some people very wealthy and their work very recognizable. For others, it’s an obvious, transparent crutch used when new ideas are not flowing. There is a line, possibly a fine one, between shtick and style. Most people don’t have a completely unique style, myself included. However, a style is not automatically a shtick. Style is what differentiates us from our fellow photographers. It’s our way to experiment and make an image ours. I think that when a certain style is overused, beyond what makes sense for the subject matter, it becomes a shtick.
We can also find many shtick vs. style examples in music (really?), as Mr. Colberg has already done well with examples in photography. To me, there are few bands that are as unapologetic about their shtick as Oasis. Now, let me say first that I am a fan of Oasis (you really should download Dig Out Your Soul if you haven’t already). I’ve seen them many times, most recently being about 10 days ago in Tokyo. I know there are some haters out there (Anna), but I like their songs. Their lyrics are memorable, universal, and as a band, they are dependable. Dependable. Why are they so dependable? Why does every Oasis album sound like a continuation of the previous one? They have found a way of making music that works for them, and they have not strayed from it one bit since their incarnation. Why risk disappointing thousands and thousands of fans? My guess is it is not worth it to them, and I get that.
I see the reasoning behind overusing a style and/or having a shtick. Why would some people mess with success? On the flip side, why wouldn’t you push yourself beyond your known capabilities? Doesn’t it get boring to do the same thing all the time? Well, I can only speak for myself, and sometimes it’s scary to try something that might not work. Failure is frightening. Though I will say, it’s interesting to me that the majority seems to eventually grow tired of most shticks, whether it be in music, photography, or any genre where “more” is expected from the people lucky and talented enough to hold the coveted title of artist.