Let me start by being clear from the outset: There is no quick and easy way to develop your style as a photographer– It’s an on-going process and takes work and dedication, but this advice is for photographers who are looking to begin their journey to a set style that they can one day call their own and be known for.
It takes time to find a balance between doing what you love and doing what you’re great at, so to help you find your focus, here are Five steps to follow on your quest to developing your style as a photographer.
1: Dissect Photos You Love
Trying to find your style can be overwhelming. There are so many choices; you can (basically) do anything you want. But a generalist approach won’t help you develop a distinct style. Consistency is the key to building a recognizable portfolio.
A good start is to follow your curiosity and find images you love and break them down piece by piece - What lighting was used? What’s the subject matter? What about the edit? What poses/colour/emotions/environment did the photographer use?
Collect these photos in a folder on your computer or phone, or a secret Pinterest board and take time to examine them. Look for trends. Dissecting the images that resonate with you will help you piece together the style you want to follow in your own work.
2: Figure Out What You Don’t Like
What do you definitely NOT want to shoot? Ask yourself this question over and over and you’ll bring yourself closer to pinning the tail on that donkey. Using a process of elimination can get you closer to the answers you need.
Create a list of scenarios, styles or genres you want to stay clear of. By doing so you’ll be able to rules those out in favour of what inspires you.
Although never be too proud to shoot for money if you have bills to pay. From experience, we all have to shoot things we don’t always love if you are, or working towards becoming professional, it just doesn't mean you have to include these images in your portfolio or your social feed.
3: Dedicate Yourself to Your Art
The best way to find your style is to produce a body of work, then review and refine it. You may think you want to follow one style at first, only to later find you don’t care for the process involved or don’t see the satisfaction in doing it long-term. Keep practicing and refining until you find your work progressing in the direction you want. Following your instincts will only get you so far; hard work and dedication are what will carry you over the finish line.
4: Expect What You Love To Change Over Time
Expect your taste to change along the way. This is normal. You should always be focussed on a North Star but be prepared and accepting of the fact the star will move around as you grow as an artist. Start from where you are, and always moving forward.
5: Take Your Time
And finally, don’t forget to exercise patience on your journey. Keep in mind that there’s no rush. Start building a portfolio, and before you know it, you’ll have a body of work you can look back on with a fresh perspective. Ask yourself, “Is my work evolving in the right direction?” If not, go back and follow these steps again. Get advice from others and ask a mentor for a portfolio review until you finally feel you’re on track to find your true style.
You will eventually get to the stage where clients come to you because they want you to create work for them that is consistent with what they see in your portfolio.
To Wrap up
Nothing is perfect, If your goal is perfection, you’ll spend your entire career searching for something you can never achieve. Instead, focus on the positive elements of your work, and embrace any constructive critique head on from artists and professionals you respect.
I hope these steps will help you get into the right mindset to begin developing your journey to finding your style as a photographer.
What’s your experience in searching for your photography style? Got any recommendations for others? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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