Just like fashion, a good artist adopts a ‘look’ from which their work is defined. If you want to be a distinctive photographer, we suggest you develop a photography style. But how do you do that?
Here are 6 ways you can create a photography style.
The best place for an artist to start developing anything honest is by looking at themselves. This may sound like a voyage of self-discovery, but this is photography at its core, a journey to find what you love. Chances are you have the foundations of it already. But where?
Time to break out all those photographs you’ve been taking (aimlessly you may think) over the months and years. These pictures will help you see small parts of your photography style.
Pick out a selection of your favourite photos, around 30 or so and lay them out flat or put them all on screen.
Now that you’ve got the photos laid out it’s time to really assess the content.
• Can you spot any repetitive features?
• Do you opt for similar compositional rules?
• Any common colours that are appearing?
• Certain types of subject matter always cropping up?
• Visit the same location a lot?
• Tend to shoot in certain weather conditions
• Similar focal length / depth of field used again and again?
Using this little checklist will help you find any similarities in order to shape your photography style. List all the repeating features and keep them somewhere important.
It’s also a good thing to add to that list the motivating factors that caused you to take up photography in the first place.
For some, it’s making family memories, others it’s documenting their surroundings, or it could just be to memorialise their life and travels. Whatever makes you happy and keeps you wanting to take photos, write it down too.
It is paramount that you don’t lose sight of the joy that photography brings you, so whatever your smile-maker is then it’s now part of your style.
‘Until you’ve done everything, you’ve done nothing’ the quote goes and in developing your photography style this could be a useful moniker. You may love landscape photography, but can it be your favourite area of photography if you’ve not tried portraiture? Possibly, possibly not.
What we’re getting at is that it’s good to try lots of different genres out before finding the ones you really love.
Of course, they’ll be areas you know that’ll just never appeal to your personality but otherwise give everything you can a shot, so you know. Again, list down those preferred genres if you haven’t already.
By now that list should be fairly comprehensive, stacked with features, locations, compositions, colours, genres and subjects. This is the core of your photography style. Of course, you’ll deviate from this list over time but like a boomerang, you’ll be back when you need to get out of a rut.
Now you know your style it’s time to focus and perfect it. Remember you’re trying to create the best versions possible of your work.
1. If you love leading lines, concentrate on looking for interesting lines, creative ways you can involve them for instance.
2. Maybe you love colour and always want yellow in your shots. Keep that in mind and watch for clusters of shades and tints in close proximity.
3. If flowers are your thing; then get yourself to a local park or botanical garden and learn more about the subjects you’re shooting. An informed photographer is a genuine one. Audiences like to know the history/story behind a photograph, so if you can entertain and inform at the same time, you’ll look more caring.
Keep your list nearby and soon it’ll be ingrained rooted in your sub-conscious so that you’ll instinctively recognise moments that suit your style.
If you can spend less time editing and more time shooting isn’t that a good thing? A smart workflow will take out the boredom that long stints of editing can induce. Lightroom has presets that can batch edit large volumes of photos, so they all have a similar finish (providing the original shots are consistent too).
Create your own presets in Lightroom or even build an action in Photoshop to get through the editing process faster.
• Maybe you’re always warming up your shots?
• Regularly upping the contrast?
• Do you tend to tweak the sharpness levels?
Whatever the adjustment if you find yourself regularly doing it, include it in your action or preset and make it part of your photography style.
All the great ones have/had a style. Pick any renowned photographer and look at their images, you’ll see repeating aspects, commonalities and a passion for particular subjects.
If you want to have a strong portfolio like them then take note and build yourself a personal photography style.
If you’ve enjoyed this guide, then check out all the other photo articles we have on the iPhotography. You can also learn more about photography through our incredibly detailed online courses.