How To Develop Your Own Unique Style of Photography
As a photographer, few things are more important than your signature style. Your signature style is your defining mark on your photography – your own unique perspective that you share with the world.
Capturing photos in a way that reflects your own style and creative vision is the best way to set your work apart from everyone else’s – and quite possibly, the only way to create images that stand out.
Think of great photographers – or movie directors, artists, or authors that you admire. Often, when it comes to skilled, well-known creatives, you can recognize their work as soon as you see it. This is because they have developed their own signature style, and it’s immediately obvious in their work, and their iconic masterpieces.
Developing your own style, though, involves more than simply willing it into existence or stumbling upon it one day. The fact is that for most of us, developing our vision is a journey, and something that needs to be consciously cultivated.
If you’re looking to take your photography to the next level, here’s how you can develop your vision and create works of art that stand apart from the crowd.
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Master the Basics
It’s difficult to be creative if you’re constantly struggling with lighting, exposure, and the settings on your camera. In order to develop your style, you’ll want to be able to focus on being creative rather than having to spend time thinking about technical details. Mastering your camera’s settings, and learning to work with the light, as well as other tools that you have at your disposal – post processing, for instance – allows these things to become second nature, which will they free you up to focus on being creative and capturing the image that you want.
Analyze Your Images
If you’re having a hard time discovering what it is that you’re passionate about, analyze your images. When you look at your best work, what do you see? What aspects of photography and which subjects or compositions really make you come alive? Analyzing your work can be an extremely beneficial exercise. The photos that you captured that have the most depth, interest, and emotion will show you where your interests lie.
Discover What Inspires You
What inspires you? What is it that motivates you to pick up a camera? While it’s easy enough to say that it’s landscape photography, portraits, or macros that you enjoy capturing, developing your signature style involves taking things a few steps further. Ask yourself what it is about landscapes, portraits, or macros, that you really enjoy. Is it the thrill of capturing a storm building on the horizon, or the way the evening light cascades across the landscape? Maybe you’re motivated to explore the minuscule worlds that are found in close-ups of nature.
Spending some time reflecting on what it is that really interests you is one of the first steps towards developing your creative vision.
Learn Everything You Can About Your Niche
Once you’ve identified your interest, you’ll want to take time to learn everything you can about it. If you want to be a wedding photographer, for instance, you’ll want to make sure you know what’s involved with shooting weddings, and everything that it entails. You’ll want to make sure you know what you’re in for, and prepared to put in the work that’s involved. It’s also a great idea to learn from other photographers that are experts in this particular field – studying their photos, and seeing what works for them will help you to improve your own photography. This doesn’t mean to copy their style, but looking at their work will inspire you, and help you to make your own ideas come to life.
Cultivate Your Style
Each photographer has their strengths and weaknesses. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, we all have to specialize in something. The important thing is finding what your calling is, and working to capture your creative vision in your images. This doesn’t mean that you can never vary your photography, of course, but it does mean that most of your work should be in your style that you’re trying to cultivate. Not only will capturing a consistent type of image help you to become a master in your field. It will also give you a great portfolio of images, all of which reflect consistency and your personal style.
Look at the Work of Other Photographers
Surround yourself with inspirational photography. Don’t settle for photos on Facebook or snaps on your social media feeds. Your photography will be directly influenced by the photography that you see. So set the bar high. Get your hands on some excellent photography books with high-quality images, and seek out the work of other great photographers both past and present like Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson, or any photographer with National Geographic. Learn from them – discover what it is that you like about their photos, and analyze their methods. It isn’t about copying them, rather, learning about them and from them. Discovering the passion and motivation behind their photos will inspire you to find your own style.
Develop Your Style in Post Processing
In the days of film, the darkroom was where it all happened and where a photographer’s vision was brought to life.
Today, much of this happens in post processing. Keeping your images directly as they are, with no touch-ups is fine but for many situations, allowing your camera to process the images as it sees fit isn’t the best option. Rarely will it do as good a job as you can. While this doesn’t mean that you should over-process your photos, taking a few minutes to adjust the contrast, lighting, and tones can make a world of difference in your photos. This allows you to apply your own signature style in your compositions, helping you to create images that are truly yours.
Finally, remember, developing your signature approach is an ongoing progress. Even great photographers of the past changed and adjusted their style throughout the course of their lives as their attitudes shifted and perspectives developed.
While finding your vision can take time, there’s no reason you can’t get started today. There are few things that you can do that will improve your overall photography like developing your perspective – and signature style.
What inspires your photography?