Sunday, August 4, 2013

9 Ways to Find Your Photography Style

Style: what is it in photography? I bet many of you have your own style when it comes to fashion, decorating your homes, how you style your hair, etc. It's the stuff you love, right? Well style in terms of your photography is the same way.

How did I create this look and feel of my blog and photography? Totally simple... it's me! This is my personality reflected: I love bright colors, being crazy, having fun. I'm a minimalist, I love clean design. Naturally my shooting and editing style reflects who I am.

 So when it comes to finding your style in photography I feel that there are two different things that add up to style. First, there's the way you actually shoot and process your images. The lighting you use, the way you edit, how you style a shoot, what you shoot, the locations you choose. Then we have what really makes your style... and that's you! Personally I think being yourself is the most important thing - everything else just falls into place.

Ready to find your photography style? Here are 9 ways to jump start your style...

1. Shoot what you love
This is the reason we all started shooting in the first place. We shoot what we love. If you're working as a photographer and you shoot stuff that you don't like, stop shooting it. For example, I love kids and they love me and we click right away. But I don't have kids and I'm not used to working with them so when I started shooting I realized that I didn't really like to shoot kids. If your heart isn't in it, then don't shoot it.

The moment you start forcing yourself to like something and you just have to get through it that's the moment you start losing yourself.

2. Find inspiration
There's a fine line between getting inspired by someone's work and getting discouraged. This is so important to keep in mind when you're looking at other's work... do not compare yourself to them. This is bad ju-ju people! Trust me... been there, done that. It's one thing that can take an excited just-starting-out photog and make them quit. Seriously, don't do it.

Why? For one reason, skill level. Everyone starts somewhere. The photographers you admire probably have been shooting a lot longer than you. They also may be shooting with better and more expensive equipment. The most expensive lenses and the best quality glass you can buy produces fantastic photos but only if you have the skills to use it.

I can't say this enough - comparing your work to others is totally self defeating. Don't do it.

Instead get inspired by them and learn from their work. What makes their photos so amazing? Focus on that, work hard to achieve the look you want for your own photos. Never stop getting inspired by other photographers, other artists. Read books, paint, go to museums, listen to music, go to the theater, etc.

My favorite place is a modern art museum. Anytime I'm feeling in a creative funk it just makes my day. Another great thing to do is pin photos you love to Pinterest. Just remember to not get down on yourself because you're just starting out. You have to shoot a lot and really fine tune your skills to get there. Shoot all the time.

3. Be yourself
True style reflects who you are. It's what you love. It's how you see the world. Embrace the things that make you YOU.  Every one of us is unique. We have special skills, style and we all see things differently. No one can be you, so work it!

4. Find your editing niche 
How you edit your photos will further define your style. My editing style is bold, bright colors while keeping it real. I don't do a lot of editing for skin (the magazine model look) and really like to keep things how I see them. There's nothing wrong with editing photos with ultra smooth skin, it's just not my style. Other photographers love the vintage look, dreamy, golden colors, etc. When it comes to editing it will take time to figure out what you like best.

5. Work with the light
Are you a natural light photographer? Do you love to use a lot of off camera flashes? How you approach lighting in your photography again will help define your style. Photographers who love the high end fashion look usually add external flashes to their shots. It really gives them this glossy, edgy fashion style. I love shooting with natural light and I really hate flash so I only use flash if I absolutely have to - and that personal preference helps define my style.

6. Reflect on what you love
Make a list of stuff that makes you happy... think about your favorite things, any hobbies you have, favorite colors. Your personality comes into play as well - so jot down words that describe you. Pick a subject or two from your list and get out there with your camera, seek out these things, shoot for yourself and explore your personal style.

7. Fine tune your posing and styling
Another element that lends to your photography style is how you pose and style your photos. There are photographers who do micro posing meaning they pose every single thing, from the tip of someone's chin to the way they tilt their head just right. We could never stand being posed like that (it made us so uncomfortable and we looked awful) so when we started shooting our style was a casual type of posing. Starting to see a pattern here? Our preferences and what we love dictates how we shoot. You might find that you prefer a purely photo journalistic approach with no posing. Or you might like to mix candid shots with casually posed portraits. You might want to keep things real or set up styled shoots. What you choose is up to you and will add up to your developing style.

8. Get those technical skills down
If there's one thing that comes between you and finding your style it's not knowing how to use your camera. How can you have more fun and get really creative when you and your camera are always fighting? You want to take a silhouette picture. The camera wants to use flash. You turn off the flash. The camera just makes a blurry photo. Learning to shoot in manual and really boss your camera around is the best thing you can do for your photography (that and mastering light!)

9. Your style will evolve, run with it! 
Never forget, your style is completely organic. It is always changing and evolving into a new style. This is especially true as your priorities and goals change in life. You may have a young child and now enjoy taking family photos. Your love of cooking may have branched into sewing as well. Your style will constantly change and it's okay to embrace this change.