Developing your own photographic style that will make your work different from other photographers is a lengthy process that takes a lot of practice and a lot of souls searching. So what exactly is a photographic style? Is it a preference to landscape or flower photography, shooting all in black & white or perhaps certain post processing in the Photoshop? Not quite, all the above are just subjects and techniques. It is also not following a photographic movement, be it a dreamy pictorialism, colourful impressionism or a sharp focused f.64 group. All the above is a genre and only deals with how you look at the world around you. A style is something more than that. It is a combination of your preferences, of in depth vision, techniques and also passion – passion for what you cannot help but shoot.
Most of the photographers start their adventure with photography by mastering the camera techniques. It is essential to have the know-how skills as it allows the photographer to concentrate on the artistic side of photography when out on the photo shoot. The vital step in developing the style is to discover what you like to photograph. We all are naturally drawn to some fields of photography, like nature, portrait or sport, but asking yourself a question what you really like to photograph and not relying any more on your early development choices influenced by the preferences of your parents, teachers and peers will direct you onto the road of self discovery. At first it may be difficult to get rid of the luggage gathered over the years, but to be true to yourself is a paramount for developing your style.
An invaluable help in the process is studying other photographers’ work and trying to grasp what is unique about them. Copying other photographers is a good exercise too (in moderation) – it will fine tune your own style through trials. Visiting the museums and studying the old masters, is yet another helpful tool. Why does this painting appeal to you, what was the artists message, how did he/she achieved the desired effect and what would be your way of presenting the same subject – these are the questions you should always think about.
Music is also incredibly helpful in understanding how you connect with the world. Do you hear Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries” when you stand next to the waterfall or is it more like a Duke Ellington’s “Riff staccato”? Your perception of the scene combined with the well honed technical skills will allow you to express clearly your feelings. If during the development process, you are your own most strict critic and you accept positive criticism of others, your unique creativity and personality will shine through your work quickly.
Beata Moore is a professional photographer and writer. She has written a number of books including “The Channel Islands”, “Portrait of Wimbledon”, “The Square Mile – photographic portrait of the City”, “Cracow: City of Treasures”, “A Year in the life of the New Forest” and “A Year in the Life of the Cotswolds”.