Choosing a photography style is about looking inside yourself and asking, “What do I like? What am I passionate about?” It’s not about trying to fit in with current trends in the photography world or making something that you think other people will want to purchase. If you try to make something for someone else, it will never make you truly happy. You need to pick a style that is uniquely you. There are no rules, but there are some guidelines to get you started on the right track if you are still trying to decide which direction to go in. In this article, we’ll provide you with tips and inspiration on choosing your photography style.
What is a Photography Style?
A photography style is the mood or tone of a particular photograph. For example, one photographer may take photos that are bright and cheerful while another photographer’s will be dark and brooding. The style can also include the general feel of the photographs, such as bold or delicate. If you’ve ever had someone give you an assignment to take photos at their wedding with other photographers, you’ll know that not all of the shots end up looking the same. But a photography style is more than just an editing style. It’s a unique combination of techniques, compositions, subject mater, mood/feel, and overall aesthetic.
What Makes Your Photography Style Unique?
For example, some photographers might focus on getting just one shot of each person who attends the wedding in order to document who was there. Other photographers might focus on capturing the best expression of every couple in different ways, such as candid shots and staged shots with direction from the couple. This is how you can begin to define your style: What kind of photos do you like taking most? How would you describe what mood or tone your photos have? Do you like to be more candid and document real reactions or do you prefer staging your photos and giving direction? After you’ve determined your style, you can streamline production with digital style guides, moodboards, and branding tools to effectively communicate your style and brand to your partners, clients, and staff.
3 Tips on How to Develop Your Style
Developing your photography style is one of the first things new photographers should strive to do. However, keep in mind that your style will change and evolve over time. So don’t get too hung up on perfecting or finalizing your style yet. It will “find you” as much as you will “find it.”
Tip 1. Try Different Niches of Photography
If you’re having a hard time coming up with your own unique photography style, try taking photos in different niches of photography.
For example, try wedding photography, landscape photography, architecture photography, headshot photography, food photography, pet photography…anything! By doing this, you’ll eventually find out what you love the most. Make a list of your favorite types of photos to take and then narrow them down into groups based on which ones are most comfortable to shoot. For example, you might like to take pictures of landscapes but don’t feel too comfortable with photographing people because they’re unpredictable. Just pick one to begin with, even if it’s the niche that makes you feel most uncomfortable.
One you’ve picked a niche to focus on, get out there and practice! You can’t just decide one day that you want to be a landscape photographer and then magically become one by reading books about photography. Instead, take classes, join workshops, work with other photographers (and models), and get your hands dirty.
Once you find niches of photography that you enjoy, experiment within that niche! For more information on photography as a general term, we recommend checking out this article on photography
Tip 2. The Best Way to Discover Your Style is by Experimenting
The best way to discover your photography style is by experimenting with test photo shoots, personal projects, and select client shoots. Try different things and see what affects you the most emotionally. If taking candid shots of your friends always makes you happy, congratulations! You have found your style.
Every person will have a different response to the things they see in photographs so it’s up to you to discover how you feel when looking at your own work. If you are still confused about finding your own personal style as a photographer, consider these questions:
Questions to find your style
- Do you take photos of your friends and family? If so, what do those photos generally look like? Do you tend to capture more formal shots or candid shots?
- Do you prefer outdoor or indoor photography?
- What colors do you see when looking at a photo that appeals to you emotionally the most?
- If someone were to ask why they should hire you to take photos of them what would your answer be?
- What makes you feel the most creatively fulfilled when creating a photo for yourself?
- Are there any photographers whose work you admire? If so, what is it about their photos that you like the most?
Once you’ve spent some time thinking about these questions, look at your own photos and see what elements you’ve been focusing on most often. You can then go in that direction to find your style. It might actually be a combination of different styles, but it will give you a starting point from which to build. In time, find more questions that help define your style further and make sure they are all answered truthfully.
Remember that every person’s style is different and therefore not everyone will like your photos just as you might not be willing to purchase someone else’s work. When all else fails, ask a friend if they could describe your photography style with three adjectives or less. If they can, then it’s safe to say you’ve found your own unique style. If not, keep experimenting and practicing your photography skills. There’s nothing wrong with discovering your own style over time through trial and error.
Tip 3. Look for Inspiration from Other Photographers
It’s one thing to be inspired by someone else’s work, but it is another entirely for your style to be a direct rip-off of theirs. Draw inspiration from others, but always make sure that the end result of your photographs is unique and distinctly yours. Realistically speaking, people who see your photos will not know if you were influenced by a particular photographer or not. It’s the end product that matters and it should reflect your own talents and skills as a photographer, no matter how self-taught you were.
Here are a few ways to discover the work of others:
- Instagram – Instagram is a great place to discover incredible photography.
- Pinterest – Create a pin board of the shots you like and the Pinterest recommendation engine will serve you more of the same type of images.
- Google – Search the location of your next shoot to see what others have done in similar situations
If you’re still not sure about your personal style as a photographer, take some time and experiment with different things. Keep working at it and don’t give up! You’ll find inspiration in the most unlikely places. And remember, styles can change! You might think you’ve found your style but in a few years, you may discover something new that inspires you to redefine your own work as an artist. Good luck!