What's your Photography Style?
When I first started exploring Photography, over 11 years ago, this question had me stumped. I know I wasn't alone in feeling this way. It's a question that a lot of photographers struggle to answer, especially in the beginning of their journey. Not only that but your Style can change, or evolve, over time as well.
It's quite a complex subject but I wanted to share what I have come to learn about Style in relation to photography.
First... what exactly is 'Style'?
You know when you scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feed and instantly recognise a photographer's photo (as being theirs)? That's because they have a Style! It's quite an achievement and not something that everyone has, but that everyone strives for. It is an enviable quality that is highly sought after by artists of all types. Basically, it's the Holy Grail of the photography world... for good reason! If you have found your Style, then not only is your work recognisable, but you will produce consistent work that clients will trust you can produce for them.
What determines someone's Style?
Answer: Everything you see in the photo.
Hmm, that's not very helpful is it? OK, let's try and break it down...
I mentioned the words 'consistent work' in the paragraph above. Herein lies the key! What elements do you consistently see, or experience, when looking at a photographer's work (one who you consider to have a Style)? Analysing the photos of such photographers can help you to learn how to develop your own Style.
Composition & Angles -
Do they shoot from above (Bird's Eye View), down low, or in the middle?
Do they 'shoot through' objects or place them in their foreground (also known as foreground bokeh)?
Do they frame their subjects with objects such as windows and door frames?
Do they use Reflections, Shadows, Leading Lines, Rule of Thirds or other composition techniques frequently?
Are their backgrounds simple, busy or somewhere in the middle?
Focal Length and Apeture -
Do they shoot wide angles, long or the middle?
Is their aperture low, medium or high?
What time of day do you think they shoot in most?
Is the light in their images usually warm or cool?
Where is the light usually coming from? Natural light from a window? Studio/artificial light? Back light, front light, side light, pocket light?
Is the light usually hard or soft?
Is the light source usually small or large?
Environment and/or Props -
Do they frequently shoot outdoors, indoors or in a studio? What's the environment usually like?
Do they use certain props? Wooden? Floral? Plain Backdrops? Do they match their backdrops and wraps? What are they using, or doing, over and over?
Post Processing (PP) -
Is the post processing Black & White, Colourful, Clean, Gritty, Earthy? Film-Like? Note: Sometimes it can be hard to produce consistent PP amongst various scenes and lighting situations, but practise makes perfect.
Subject Matter -
What seem to be the thing/s that you see over and over in the person's work? Is it the way their subject's interact with each other? It is the way babies are placed or posed? Is it the style (home decor, clothing, hair styles, etc) of their actual clients that is similar?
Is the mood usually Calm & Peaceful, Playful, Intimate, Nostalgic, Light & Airy, Dark & Moody, Whimsical?
Shooting Style -
Lifestyle, Documentary, Posed?
Putting it altogether
What work do you want to produce? Experiment with your photography and try to produce consistency in your work (using the elements mentioned above). Look at your photos, find the ones you like best, then try and reproduce the results again. Remember, it can take YEARS to develop a Style... so patience is a must!
Love and (great) light,