Have you ever asked yourself: “What is my photographic style?”
Finding your own photographic style is a critical aspect of being a great photographer. Sure, you can simply copy everyone else. You can shoot what’s trendy, or shoot and edit your pictures without clear goals. This way, you’ll struggle to create a photography style that’s truly your own.
Finding your personal photographic style doesn’t happen overnight. With deliberate effort and practice, you’ll be able to hone in on a style you love that fits your work. I’ve asked myself this question for over five months, and I wanted to create this list of steps for you to quickly find an answer.
I’ve also included a video from the amazing photographer Sean Tucker since I find his point of view very valuable and I want to share it with you. You can find it scrolling down or clicking here.
List of Photographic Styles
First of all, you need to understand that generally when we people talk about photography styles, they mean the broader definition of a particular niche.
In fact, I suggest you to also explore the actual niche you want to improve your skills and build your still upon.
Here’s a list of the most popular photography styles.
- Landscape Photography
- Portrait Photography
- Fine Art Photography
- Fashion Photography
- Travel Photography
- Adventure Photography
- Architectural Photography
- Wildlife Photography
- Smoke Bomb Photography
- Drone Photography
- Sports Photography
- Nude Photography
Find Your Personal Photographic Style
With always changing photography trends it’s fundamental to find your style. These are my tips to find your personal photographic style:
Learn From Others But Don’t Copy
Learning from other photographers without copying them is a tricky balance.
Strive to be inspired by great photographers instead of copying from them. Copying can be considered fine in the beginning. You can copy when you’re learning the basics, but you have to develop your eye and become able to critique an image and take something away from it.
For example, maybe you love the use of the rule of thirds in a photo, and without running out and copying the image directly, you try to apply the same technique to another subject. Study photographers that you love to train your eye.
As a landscape photographer, I was inspired by the work of Elia Locardi and Chris Burkard, to name a few, and I learned from their images and styles.
You have to apply the techniques you gain to your work.
With your newfound awareness for that particular technique, be conscious of it during your next shoot. Learning the basic rules of composition is an excellent way to start.
I’ve written an article that might help you. It took me several hours of research, and if you’re interested, you can find it here Photography Composition: The Best Guide
Sean Tucker Video on Photographic Styles
Sean Tucker is a street photographer from the UK. He has a YouTube channel and I like how he explains his view on this topic.
It’s a great video, pretty long, and I’d like to highlight some of the key points:
- Defining your style is an in-flux process,
- Every photographer has a find what’s working for them,
- If you use Instagram look at how your style evolves over time,
- Get inspired by other artists,
- Your style comes out of who you are,
- Don’t Copy Others. Follow your own journey
And these are some quotes from the video.
Style has no formula, but it has a secret key.Ernst Haas
It is the extension of your personality.
We don’t need to impose a style, we just have to show up and be present to catch its unfolding.Linda Saccoccio
He has found his style, when he cannot do otherwise.Paul Klee
Every artis who evolves a style does so from illusive elements that inhabit her visual storehouse.Mary Carroll Nelson
Shoot Every Day
People want to hear that you got better at photography by purchasing a great camera, not taking thousands of pictures over several years.
Well yes, I’m not saying that a good camera is not needed.
I’m afraid, though, that you’ll have to accept that practice makes perfect, and photography is no exception.
You have to take a lot of pictures to discover what you like and what works best for you. It will take trial and error, which means you will make mistakes and take bad photos.
Don’t get demotivated, messing up, and learning from your failures is part of the process.
To shoot every day, take advantage of your surroundings. I have an article for you to learn how to get the best out of your neighborhood and take amazing photos of it. Find it here Photography In Your Neighborhood Best tips
Don’t let your life circumstances prevent you from finding time to shoot daily. Carving out even a 10-15 minute chunk of time per day adds up to more than an hour per week.
Realize that you have a great camera with you all the time. Your smartphone.
If you’ve forgotten to put your mirrorless or DSLR in your bag, it doesn’t matter. Use your phone and challenge yourself to take a picture even if it’s of something completely normal happening in your neighborhood, like a dog walking on the street.
Soon you’ll realize that shooting every day is part of your routine, and this new habit will get you closer to finding your style.
Poor Technique is not a Style
Becoming a better photographer is critical for creating a unique, exciting photography style.
No one will take you seriously if your images are poorly composed with harsh shadows and weird skin tones. Many photographers try to pass off their sloppy skills as style. Yellow overtones aren’t a style. They’re simply the result of lazy shooting and poor editing choices.
Clients won’t be happy with these so-called style choices when they involve chopping off fingers or limbs consistently.
You have to learn the rules before you can break them.
Also, I was able to substantially improve my photos by merely learning how to read my camera histogram. You can do that too!
Shoot What Makes YOU Happy
Resist the temptation to shoot what’s trendy or what you think will make you rich and famous.
You’ll quickly burn out, taking pictures that you don’t love. Focus on what you want out of your photography instead of thinking what others want out of your photography.
Don’t become a family portrait photographer because all of your friends want you to photograph their kids.
If you love taking portraits, go for it.
Don’t become a landscape photographer just because you think it’s cool, and you’ll get followers on Instagram.
If you love outdoors and adventure, go for it.
But don’t feel limited to this option due to social pressure. Following your true passions will help you create your photographic style. A style that you truly love. Find your why, and you’ll see that things will come more natural, reflecting in the quality of your pictures.
Be Your Own Critic
It’s great to have trusted fellow photographers, as well as family and friends, provide feedback on your photos.
These people will help you sharpen your technical skills and give you a sense of how the general public is receiving your photos.
Print out 15-20 favorite images. Consider why you like them so much, and look for recurring patterns across the pictures. Maybe you prefer to shoot on overcast days.
Perhaps you tend to put your subjects in more candid poses, looking away from the camera.
Maybe you use a lot of negative space in your images.
Paying attention to these patterns will help you use them more intentionally to define your style.
In an age with near-constant exposure to images on blogs and social media, it’s harder than ever to step away from trends and competition and focus on developing your own photography style.
Get off the Internet regularly. Get off your mobile phone or computer screen and concentrate on what you want.
Make it a priority to work on your skills. As you hone in on the key aspects that make your style unique, you’ll watch it grow.
Have you found your photographic style yet? What steps are you taking to find your unique photographic style?
Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.