What's in a Name?

Posted on January 01 2017

Happy New Year! Here we are in 2017, so congrats to all of us for making through what seemed like a crazy 365 days. A lot happened globally in 2016 that probably made every single person on planet Earth feel like we were living through one big mercury in retrograde. I could run through the lists from celebrity deaths, to political upsets to my own personal downs that I experienced but I won’t. Instead I am going to focus on the beauty of the first day of a new year. 

To most this is a clean slate in many ways. Myself, I felt it would be a great day to start a new beginning with my photography. Well maybe not a new beginning, but rather a continuous evolution. See for years I have been going by the alias Van Styles for my photography. This was a name I came up with back in 2002 for a job I had at that time. Since then I had pursued photography out of my passion for this art form and for the sense of personal fulfillment it gave me. To say photography has changed my life is an understatement. 

Looking back over the past 14 years or so of making photos I realized a growth through my images. When I had left the previous industry I was working in to pursue my new passion of photography I kept using my alias. At the time it seemed to make sense given where I was at mental and artistically at this point in my life. During my continuous path of finding myself this amazing platform launched called Instagram. Now if you are a photographer or artist of some sort you saw first hand what this app. was able to do for a lot of people. Like many I jumped into it with open arms. Since I already had an alias I decided to keep running with the Van Styles name. 

This was back in 2011 and since then I noticed this booming trend with newer photographers. Rather than go by their real names they all wanted to create an alias. To me it was reminiscent of graffiti writers or even hip-hop artist. I mean who can blame them when you saw creatives having success such as 13th Witness or trashhand. It was evident this is going to spark inspiration in a new generation of photographers. Some of them were clever while most were very over the top and just seemed to be imitating their idols.

Over the past couple of years I myself had been figuring out what a name meant to me. Especially when it involves labeling an art form you pour your heart into creating. I kept finding myself more and more losing the interest in continuing to use an alias but rather to start going by my real name. In this time I have had some monumental personal life changes. From the birth of my daughter to the death of my father. Maybe these moments struck a chord with me in the idea of a legacy. To be honest these is something inspiring about leaving behind some type of footprint with my photos that my daughter could directly be connected to and hopefully proud of. Or maybe with my father passing something clicked in my head to be proud of my families name and to do all that I can to carry it on. 

These were some thoughts running through my mind, but in the end I realized that I have just simply outgrown the need for an alias. Who I was and where I was at my life when I came up with this moniker is very different from who I am today. That is the beauty of life, of being human. Change is part of our growth. Wether it is spiritually or physically. For me it is realizing that photography is something that I love and that continues to grow with me. To give it everything I have I would rather be recognized by my real name. I mean after all photography is suppose to document the truth and there is nothing truer than your name. So rather than the death of Van Styles this just another part of my personal growth. 


Stephen Vanasco


Recent Posts

Join Our Mailing List