Finding your own photography style can be stressful and sometimes intimidating. There are tons of amazing and beautiful styles out there and you constantly feel like you bounce between a few of them. As a lover of photography for the past decade, I have been in your shoes. I hope that my tips and tricks will help you nail down your style and help you really enjoy being a photographer. Heck, I just got myself out of my creative funk within the past month. I loved my work, but something just wasn’t working. So you don’t have to be a complete newbie to photography to have trouble finding your style, it can be anyone, and at any level of experience.
I do want to mention before I get started, that not all of these may work for everyone. Each individual has their own reason for getting stuck in the creative rut, but I cross my fingers [and toes] that you can get your rut evened out after reading my tips and tricks.
Just like any other job, hobby, or sport, you must practice to improve. Take your camera with you everywhere! I remember some of the most awesome potential shots that I stumbled across were left undocumented – because I didn’t have my camera. Such a heartbreaking moment, no doubt. If you have a heavy camera like me, sometimes you dread lugging it around everywhere, but you will thank me later. You can read all the articles and books that your heart desires about photography, but if you don’t go out there and practice it is pretty much info down the drain. Why would you want to waste all that time researching when you don’t put what you learned into action.
Photography projects are a great way to get that camera out of the bag and in your hand. There are many projects out there for photographers. Some of the most common are Project 52 and Project 365. This is when you are given a weekly theme or daily theme.
Finding your own photography style doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have that look and spark with every single niche. You must find that niche that creates that spark between you, the camera, and the client. Nothing is worse than doing something you don’t like, are not good at, or simply just something that doesn’t make you happy. Would you want a brain surgeon operating on you when he doesn’t like his job and is just there for the money? No, of course not, and it’s the same with any profession, even for the creatives. It makes a huge difference in your work when you actually love what you are photographing. Focus on what makes you happy and the rest will fall into place.
This is probably the most important tip I can give you – to be YOU! I mean, this post IS titled as finding your OWN photography style, not duplicating someone else’s. If you are like me, you follow lots of other photographers that you admire. I know it’s hard not to get lost in admiration from the work of those beloved photographers that you follow. When shooting, forget everything and just have fun and be YOU!
Pinterest is a soul sucking and fabulously addicting site. It is amazing! I find tons of things on Pinterest for all aspects of my life, not just photography. When dealing with photography, I have a love-hate relationship with it. My advice to you is create a board, pin like 10-20 photos that just makes your jaw fall to the floor and say, “I LOVE this.” Then open your board and study it. Do all the images have a theme? Are the photos all bright, whimsical, bold, vibrant, etc. Are they shot with a shallow depth of field? Are they stylized? What is it about the photos that really drew you in? Sum it up with three words that describe the style that you leaned towards. Once you found your own photography style, you should work toward shooting with those three words in mind. With every session, every photo you capture, and really work toward making those three words radiate from it.
My three words as of right now are:
I say “as of right now” because there are billions of descriptive words out there and I may just come across one that is a better version of those listed and would be more suitable for my brand.
Finding your own photography style doesn’t just stop with taking the photos but also in post-processing (aka editing.) This tip could have a whole post to itself, but I will make it short and sweet. Just as we looked at on tip four with developing your three words, you should also keep those three words in mind while editing. Print it out in pretty font, frame it and display it on the wall next to your workspace. There are tons and tons of editing workshops, tutorials, and YouTube channels out there, but I highly recommend learning to edit by hand first before you use actions. Actions are great and convenient but it is important to know how they got their final product as well. I have taken a few that are pretty amazing, as far as learning to hand edit. One of my favorites was Jinky Art. She edits different photos in many different styles. I feel this will help you figure out which one you like best and that represents you and also learn to hand edit.
Here is a little before and after of one of my favorite images from 2014. Here you can see my color edit, the SOOC (straight out of camera RAW image), and then a black & white version. It took me a while to find my style, but I feel like I have finally found it.
Patience is key when finding your style as a photographer. This isn’t something that happens over night, but instead saturates and shines brighter over time.
I want to help you find your photography style, so consider this challenge and feel free to email your results or questions to me if you need some feedback.
What I want you to do is create that board and find those 10-20 photos that really made you say, “WOW!” From there I want you to dissect it and find out what it is that you love about them. Describe the board style in only THREE words. Share your board along with your three descriptive words with me at email@example.com. Once your three words have been nailed down and are perfect, I will design a super cute, completely free, and inspirational downloadable file for you to print and display in your work space. I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s results!
Now go get em tiger!