Discovering personal style for artists everywhere takes a lot of time and practice and it is something that will evolve over time. I started this whole blog around the desire to find my style. You can read about it here. When I first started, I thought I knew exactly what my style was.
I wanted every photo I took to be light, bright airy romantic. That’s what I saw all over Pinterest and my favorite photographers seemed to all shoot this way. It was so beautiful and I just knew that was exactly what I wanted all of my photos to looks like. It wasn’t long before I noticed that my photos didn’t look like theirs and I really didn’t know why. Then I discovered that my technique was wrong. I had no composition. I had no understanding of what draws the viewers eye into my photos. My “art” was so full of distracting clutter, and my white balance was always just a little bit off.
Today, I am a little wiser and am ready to share some of the things I am learning along the way. I have a few tips that have my journey to acquire my photographic style. I hope these tips will help you, too.
Never Stop Learning
Bad technique is not a style. Learn everything you can about art composition. Learn how to master your camera settings. I’m not saying you have to shoot manual. But if you will learn how to do tell your camera what to do, you will have the best success at capturing the composition you envision in your mind.
Your style will fall into a specific category. Chances are good that you prefer one style over another. Maybe you love portraits more than food photography or street photography more than landscapes. Find what you like and practice that.
Shoot. A LOT!
Shoot at home. Go outside. Explore your local area. Shoot from all angles. Shoot from all perspectives, shoot through, above and below. If possible move around your subject and move your subject around. Photography is better when it is not a stationary activity. Apply what composition and technical techniques you learned before.
Go home and critique your work. Consider what you have learned and cull the photos that do not align with your newly refined standards based on what you now understand how to communicate to the world artistically. Reduce your images to the best of the best.
“I’ve always been drawn to photography and have fallen in and out of love with it many times over the years. Lots of things we see look pretty, however truly capturing the scene that paints a story for the viewer is no easy thing to do. More times than I can count, I have filled my SD card with images I thought were breathtaking in the moment, only to get home and dump 99% to the trash bin because they were snapshots that didn’t inspire the viewer. Beauty doesn’t always translate. It’s up to the photographer to create that story, and it’s that challenge that I keep chasing…” ~ Mike East Northern Colorado Photographer (@meastt09 on instagram)
Pick a style and stick with only shooting that for a while. I love so many different styles of photography that I find this part really tough. Plus I am ADHD, so that doesn’t make it easier. The problem is that I have become a sort of jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. When I took a few months to focus only on portraits and really refined my skills in that area and I know I am becoming a master at portraits. Mind you, I’m not a master, yet, but I am definitely light years ahead of where I was!
Respect your own work. While you may not think your photography is where you would like it. You may wish that your color was better, composition was clearer, or that it just looked cooler. But remember that wherever you are now is exactly where you should be and is way ahead of the next person that just started while you read this post. When you get a shot you like, share it! Accept the complements graciously. Be proud of yourself. You and I and every other photographer know just how much training and effort went into that photo. You should be proud!
No matter where you are in your photography journey, in all liklihood have not completely found your style. But remember that you will. The fact that you are still reading this means that you are seriously committed to evolving and growing.
There are tons more tips around the internet about how to find your style. But I really think it all comes with practice. Have you already made some personal discoveries in your photographic style? Please share the wealth! I really would love to hear it!
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