A question I hear a lot is “how do I find my photographic style?”
This is an extremely difficult question for most photographers, myself included. It is often easier for outsiders to say they see a “style” in a body of work.
What is photographic style?
It’s my belief that photographic style is a unique combination of photographic variables executed through a repeatable approach then filtered through selection by an individual’s artistic eye and worldview.
This leads to a body of work in which patterns can emerge that viewers can pick up and call a “photographic style.”
Identifying photographic style
When looking for photographic style, look beyond the post-processing. It certainly plays a role but isn’t the only thing.
Even if I knew how to process my photos like Annie Leibovitz, I’d still be far off creating incredible images like she does!
Look instead at the patterns that you see when looking through an entire portfolio. Things like message, story, emotion, subject matter, light, angle of view, perspective, expression, composition, colour choice, exposure, and so much more.
True photographic style is as unique as each individual.
Why can’t we see our own photographic style?
I think seeing my own style is difficult because it is completely intertwined with how I view the world. My collection of experiences, opinions, and beliefs are as unique to me as yours are to you.
That impacts my approach and preferences in a number of ways:
- It leads me to photograph certain things that catch my eye and not others.
- What I believe about myself and others affects how I interact with people.
- I tend to prefer certain lenses, focal-lengths and depth of field more than others.
- Where I place my subject in the frame and how I use other elements to enhance the composition.
That’s why you’ll get completely different photos from two photographers given the exact same location and subject matter. Or even when you have the same person, but change how they are viewed by the photographer(s).
It’s also why I think I appreciate the work of others much more than my own photography. It’s because they’re showing me a different way of viewing the world.
That’s what makes photography such a beautiful pursuit for anyone. Because we are all unique.
P.S. Let me in on how you view the world on Instagram by tagging your photos #photoproventure