What is Photographic Style???When you first start out in photography, there is lots of pressure to discover and define your photographic style. LOTS of pressure… When you want to start marketing yourself, you want to differentiate your photographic style with that of all of the other photographers in your area. I struggled under the pressure. Was my style what I shot? Was my style how I shot? Was my style the way I edited? What was my photographic style?
What is Photographic Style
I love how Photo Focus defines it…
“a consistent way of seeing that ties directly to who I am, what I like and what I want to express.”
What you shoot, how you shoot and how you edit is all part of how you see.
Back then, I looked at defining my style more as confining myself to certain constraints… this lens… this crop… this editing style. Now years further in the process, I realize that it is exactly that… a process. There are some crucial steps to the process.
First- Learn your Equipment
In the beginning you can’t really develop a style because you are still building your skills. There is so much brain energy going into the technical aspect of the image that there is little space for the creative. Once you master your camera, lighting, photoshop and other technical aspects it allows you to have more freedom to show more of yourself.
Second- Analyze the Images You Love
Look at photos. Look at photos you’ve taken, look at images from other people… but more. What do you like about the image. So many times we don’t pinpoint what we like… why we think that image works. Honestly, I think that this is the biggest thing I learned in Architecture School. being able to pinpoint what I like. The easiest way is to start noticing the commonalities of the images that you like. Are they all moody? Are they all light and bright? Are they all unposed? The answer is different for each of us because we are each drawn to different things.
This is completely controversial. While you will never find your own unique style if you copy someone else, you can learn so much by trying to recreate an image that you admire. First of all, you learn so much by trying to recreate an image. You have to figure out where the light source is and the subtle nuances of the pose.
Fourth- Make it Your Own
Look at what the elements you thought were crucial to making the image work and what elements can change. You will likely see the elements that are crucial start to become a common thread in your work.
Don’t feel confined by your style. I originally thought that photographic style was a set of constraints that you had to limit yourself to. Don’t keep your definition of your style keep you trying new things. A few years ago Sue Bryce considered herself as a “natural light” photographer, but more recently she started mastering flash and now has some amazing work using strobes as well as natural light. Your style will change as you grow and learn and that is okay!
My personal photographic style might not be as defined or iconic as some, but I think you will find that it is more artistic, pretty dramatic and very subject focused… even when the lighting, subject matter and editing is varies dramatically.