How to Develop your Photography Style

Just like fashion, a good artist adopts a ‘look’ from which their work is defined. If you want to be a distinctive shoot we suggest you develop your style.

But how the heck do you do that?!

Take a Look at your Work

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.

overhead looking at prints iPhotography developing a style

Take a Look at your Work

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?
Are 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.

What Makes You Happy?

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 to help develop your style.

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.

Lady smiling taking photographs in field iPhotography developing a style

Try Everything, Once

‘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, there will be areas you know that will never appeal to your personality but give everything you can a shot so you’re sure. Again, list down those preferred genres if you haven’t already.

Focus on Your Style

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 you’re style, it’s time to focus and perfect it, so you’re creating the best versions possible. For example:

If you love leading lines, concentrate on looking for interesting lines, creative ways you can involve them for instance. 
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. 
If flowers are your thing then get yourself to a park and learn more about the subjects’ you’re shooting. An informed photographer is a genuine one. Audiences like to know the 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 rooted in your subconscious so that you’ll instinctively recognise moments that suit your style.
lady taking pictures of shoes iPhotography developing a style

Make a Workflow

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.

Summary

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, take note and build yourself a personal photography style.

If you’ve enjoyed this guide, then check out all the others we have on the iPhotography blog page. You can also learn more about photography through our incredibly detailed online courses. Drop your email in the box below for more updates!

Photography portfolio seascape in book iPhotography developing a style

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