Finding your photography style is a critical aspect of being a great photographer. When you’re simply copying everyone else, doing what’s trendy, or shooting and editing without clear goals, you’ll struggle to create a style that’s truly your own.
Finding your photography 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.
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, 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 just try to apply the same technique to another subject. Study photographers you love to train your eye.
Then apply the techniques you gain to your own work. With your newfound awareness for that particular technique, be conscious of it during your next shoot. Learning the basic rules of composition is a good way to start, I’ve written an article that might help you. If you’re interested you can find it here Photography Composition: The Best Guide
Shoot Every Day
People want to hear that you got better at photography by purchasing a great camera, not taking thousands of pictures over the course of several years. Well yes, I’m not saying that a good camera is not needed, but I’m afraid 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 really 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 errors is part of the process. 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 neighbourhood, like a dog walking on the street.
Soon you’ll realize that shooting daily is part of your routine and this new habit will get you closer to finding your style.
Before moving to the next section, I just want to highlight a camera that for me is one of the best if you’re a new starter. It’s the Sony a6000 and for under $500 (USD) on Amazon you’ll hardly find something better.
Poor Technique is not a Style
Becoming a better photographer is critical for creating a unique, interesting 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. A while ago I’ve posted an article with 11 quick and amazing tips to dramatically improve your photos. you might find it helpful. Also, I was able to dramatically improve my photos by simply 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 really 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 own photography style. A style that you really 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 sharpening your technique 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 images. Maybe you prefer to shoot on overcast days. Maybe 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 on a regular basis. Get off your mobile phone or computer screen and concentrate on what you really 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 own unique style? Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Stefano Caioni is the founder of Pixinfocus. His passion for photography helps him discover new places and live new adventures.