Do you ever question why some photographers’ work stands out more than others? Obviously technical ability is the first rung of the ladder but once you’ve mastered your equipment then a personal style is the next thing to focus on. For some, this comes easy and is a natural progression, however for many, developing your own style takes time and work.
I often discuss this subject with other photographers and personally I find it very hard to describe my own style? I get bored very easily and like to try different styles to mix things up a bit. This means, at least in my head, I've never created a personal style but people still often say to me they could tell an image was mine straight away. I find this very flattering and a model I was chatting to the other day made my day with a comment when I questioned why she described my work as unique:
'You shoot different styles, but Its unique because you get emotion and a setting both coming through the image. It's like looking at a screenshot of a film scene, like each image has a personality of its own'
I found this a huge compliment. If you ask anyone that knows me I am hugely self critical of my work but the fact that a stranger had picked up on a few key words really gave me a massive boost at a point where my mojo was really flagging. I always try to view my images like a movie poster or album cover, I like them to have some kind of hidden story and I really like to try and invoke an emotion. I want the viewer to try and think what I'm trying to create when they look at one of my images, so the words really touched me.
So how should you go about trying to create your own style?
Absorb Work That Inspires You - I use the word absorb a lot as for me that is the best description of what I do. I literally spend far too much time a day looking at images. I feel like a scene from a movie where information is filling my brain! I've found Instagram and Pinterest are good resources for this and ways to help you subconsciously realise your style. After a long period of 'liking' and 'pinning' images. If you step back and look at the images you have collected over a period of time, you will realise there is a definite style to the images you have collected.
Shoot what you love, shoot how you see it. - Don't try and please other people. Shoot the subjects you like and shoot/post process the images the way YOU see them. Critique is great and used in the right way can help you improve, however don't let it alter your vision. If you deliberately created an image that is over exposed and somebody offers critique pointing this out, remember its just an opinion and that person doesn't share your vision. I'm not claiming you will win popularity contests, maybe the masses won't like your style but you will be true to yourself and eventually create a portfolio YOU are proud of and hopefully your fans will follow.
"Every man's work is always a portrait of himself" - Ansel Adams
So remember this, your style doesn't have to be groundbreaking or trend setting. It's just a case letting your work be an expression of yourself and your passions. Ultimately whatever style we choose, will be influenced by what we personally have seen and experienced in life. Its just a case of choosing a format to express yourself with!