Finding your photography style can be a difficult task. Your signature style is your defining mark on your photography – your own unique perspective that you share with the world. 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.
Start a Daily Photography Project to Strengthen Your Creative Muscles
One of the best ways to develop your style is to practice regularly. If you dedicate one hour a week to your photos, you won’t be able to improve quickly.
Even if you’re busy, you can help your style evolve a little every day. All you need to do is start a photography project. Make sure it’s either daily or weekly to ensure that you spend as much time with photography as possible. One of a photo projects is the 14 days photography challenge.
You can share your results online (our facebook group) to get constructive criticism and to inspire others.
Analyze Your Images
One of the best ways to improve your photography is to look at your own pictures with a positively critical eye. Viewing the photos you have made and deciding which ones you like and do not like, and why, will help you build your own photographic style.
It is helpful to write a self critique down. Keeping a journal so you can look back will be beneficial to your growth as a photographer. You could include self constructive photography evaluations. You could also have others critique your photographs and include their comments as well. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of every aspect of photography. You don’t have to touch on each one of these categories. Use this document as a guideline.
Overall constructive photography analysis:
- Have you achieved what you wanted with the light?
- Is your photography exposed well where you need it to be?
- Does this bring balance to the mood the light creates in the photograph?
- How could you have improved the lighting and/or exposure in this image?
- Is it too soft or too harsh?
- Would your be improved image by lighting the subject from another angle?
- Is everything in your frame a meaningful and balanced?
- Should you have gotten closer? Farther away?
- Does your composition comprise totally of elements meaningful to your photograph? Or are there too many distractions in your frame?
- Should you have chosen a simpler background?
- Would a shallower DOF enhance the subject?
- Does the horizon placement improve the image?
- Do you feel a sense of balance?
- Are all the elements in the image working together?
- Does the perspective help with the spatial relations of the subject and the other elements in the image?
- Do the colors/tone in your photograph emotionally and visually express what you desire?
- Do the colors work with or compete with each other?
- Does the contrast help you to focus on the subject? Or detract from it?
- Do the colors compliment one another?
- Do the colors help to convey the ideas and emotions you want them to?
- Did you make your photograph at the peak of the action?
- Was this the optimum moment?
- Would you have been better to wait longer?
- Could you have made a better photograph earlier?
- Would taking the photo at another time of day produced a more interesting result?
- Were you too focused on your camera or something else to really connect?
- How could you have experienced the situation in way which could have positively impacted your photo?
- Is there unity and harmony or tension and stress in your photograph?
- Is the idea or feeling you wanted to convey clear?
- Is the story of the photo clear?
- Will people be able to form a connection with the subject of my photo?
Write down all your answers. Be kind to yourself answering this questions. So many creative people, too often tend to be negative about what they produce. Before telling yourself you don’t like a photo make sure to consider the positive elements of the photograph.
- What do you see?
- What aspects of photography and which subjects or compositions really make you come alive?
- What about this image makes it stand out from other similar types of images?
- What gives/causes the emphasis? (Emphasis is the resting place for the eye. Eye will return there. Having an emphasis creates a center of interest.)
- What am I feeling when I view this image?
- What mood do you see in the photo? Is this mood is what the you intended?
- Did the you succeed in telling your story with the photograph? Why or why not?
- Would you hang this photo on your wall? Why or why not? (This is one of the ultimate tests of whether you really like a piece of any visual art, not only photographs. It is the best constructive photography review question.)
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.
Determine Your Goals
What is it that you enjoy about photography? Do you want to shoot commercial jobs, weddings, portraits, or possibly fine art? Chances are, you have an idea of what you want to pursue or accomplish with your images.
Here are a few of the many genres you can choose from:
- Street photography
Within these genres, there are many sub-genres. For example, portrait photography doesn’t exist on its own. There are many types of portrait photographers out there:
- Conceptual photography
- Self-portrait photography
- Fashion photography
- Fine art photography
Which genres stand out to you?
It’s important to be aware of what other photographers are creating in your industry! When you are defining a unique style for yourself, you can use their work for inspiration, but try to make your images different. Remember: don’t ever copy someone else just because you want to be like them.
Create Your Own Mood Board
Highly recommended is creating Pinterest boards filled with images that represent the look and feel you are trying to achieve. This will significantly help you in sorting through ideas that’ll will inspire future images, and give you a stylistic guide to fall back on.
Start with 40 inspiration photos.
- Why did you choose them?
- What stands out the most?
- Do you notice any patterns?
Write all of this down. The more you understand your photography taste, the closer you’ll get to discovering your photography style.
Develop Your Style 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. 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.
The idea is that you want to bring yourself to a point where you feel you can recognize your style from wherever you look. Look for similarities in tones, colors, and any unique patterns your eye may catch.
Good photography is not accidental. Good photography is created by a person with the ability to see the possibility of an outstanding image, and use the tools at their disposal to create that image; in exactly the same way that a sculptor might see the possibility of a sculpture in a piece of stone, and use the tools available (hammer and chisel), to create a final piece of artwork.