Should you think more about having a cohesive and distinctive style of photography? If you want to up your game, finding your own look is imperative. There is one sure way to develop this. However, some big obstacles will try to stumble along the way.
What is the style?
In photography, style is the characteristic appearance of a group of images. As in the other arts, the great photographers have their own distinct styles, although they may change over time. The style results from a mixture of variables coming together, making for a cohesive look across a range of works.
Genre and style are not synonymous
Would you classify yourself as a particular type of photography? Perhaps you consider yourself a wildlife or landscape photographer. Studio portraits are probably your thing. But, again, you can wander the streets with your camera looking for people interacting with the urban environment. Alternatively, you may be looking out for danger and putting your life at risk as an extreme sports or war photographer.
If you do, then bravo bravissimo. You have joined the ranks of some of the most famous photographers who have ever lived. Ansel Adams photographed black and white landscapes, Cartier-Bresson is known to photograph people on the street, and Sir Donald “Don” McCullin is often referred to as a war photographer. But these are types, not patterns.
All of these photographers have also embraced other fields of photography. For example, his excellent book McCullin in Africa documented the occasional life of pastoral tribes in Ethiopia, near the uneasy border with Sudan. Then, his newest collection is a gorgeous black and white landscape collection; The quiet peace of the natural world, a stark contrast to the horrors of war and deprivation his lens witnessed. However, despite the different genres, there is an overlap in his photography style, and similarities that help identify the images as his.
Style can be something we cannot easily identify or describe, and so is often overlooked in photographic discussions. This is because it is the result of a sometimes complex set of creative elements that give a special look.
How to find our styles
There are many things you can do to develop your own unique style of photography. First and foremost is your photographic eye. This means being able to select a series of topics that fit together and compose shots to show those topics in a way that helps convey your message.
This continuity depends on a number of factors: focal length; slot; proximity, width, or immobility; brightness, angle and color of lighting; Camera mode Frame Aspect Ratio Type. Of course, you don’t need to keep all of these factors the same for all photographs. Just selecting a few for a series of photos will add cohesion across all your shots.
Where did all the patterns go?
These 12 factors alone contain 479,001,600 possible combinations, and this does not include other variables such as lens filters, weather conditions, as well as image processing, and editing.
However, despite this huge variety of possibilities, we constantly see similar-looking photos. This is partly because we try to emulate the style of those pioneers who inspire us. If you’re a fan of Annie Leibovitz, for example, your photos will likely mimic her great work. Moreover, since they have not developed their own style, novice photographers tend to take very similar photographs. This is not only through lack of skills. Even when they learn to bypass the automatic settings, beginners often use cameras that are very similar to beginners, and most importantly, lens lenses that, although of good quality, limit creative possibilities.
Other people’s opinions hold us back
Digital photography, more than any other art, is constrained by pressures from the sometimes aggressive views of the Internet. In the online world there is a vociferous minority of conservative, self-appointed critics who aim to constrain photography and prevent it from expanding.
Take, for example, street photography. I have read that you should not use a telephoto lens. But this is nothing more than an opinion. Others say that pictures of people talking on cell phones should be rejected. why? These are perfect examples of contemporary life.
The worst sin, according to self-proclaimed experts, is filming homeless people begging for alms. Harsh assumptions are immediately made about photographers who take photos of the homeless. The photographer is clearly taking advantage of their plight. However, isn’t photography and social injustice awareness definitely something worth doing? Furthermore, most photographers will do some kindness in exchange for taking the photo. Perhaps we should question the motives of those who want to wipe the picture of homelessness under the rug, and instead insist that we are only offering a sanitized version of our society.
Why don’t you listen to the critics?
Historically, it was magazine editors, especially in fashion magazines, who decided which style was worth publishing. They acted as a restrictive candidate, preventing experiments in new areas that did not suit their opinion; They decide what styles of photography should be fashionable. Now, however, their influence has waned.
Although incomplete, the Internet should be a much more democratic taste engine than critics. Although magazine critics are replaced by opinionated people on the Internet who believe they have a right to decide what is and is not, fortunately, they have an exaggerated belief in their influence. Style becomes a fashion not because of the saying of a few loud individuals, but because of the masses.
But there are two problems with that. First, as in any field of art, the vast majority of viewers will choose the lower brows that are easy to admire rather than the more challenging ones. Whether it’s television, books, music, murals, cinema or photography, the majority are more likely to watch, read, or click the like button if art is easy to understand. Moreover, those who produce art are more likely to try to please their audience. This leads to an overall decrease in quality. Even worse, the styles are stapled to comfortable medium.
Second, the vision, and thus wide acceptance, is skewed by commercial interests. For example, social media companies are not democratic. They influence the number of views that posts get in order to maximize their earnings; Unless you pay them, if you want your images to be viewed more widely, then you have to submit to their optimization algorithms. To reach the largest audience and get the most shares, some say Instagram requires you to post fourteen times a week, although others claim it’s at least once a day. Either way, can any self-respecting photographer produce this much quality content? Not many can. Thus, the high-quality photos posted on Instagram are drowned out by mass-produced cell phone shots. As a result, unique patterns struggle to break through. So, maybe we should look for other ways to share our photographic art.
How to develop style
If you want to develop your own style, first accept that there is nothing new under the sun. Find out what’s already out there. Do a search. Then try different techniques. Do this by looking at other photos and figuring out what you do and don’t like, figure out how to compose, take, and develop photos, then try to iterate. Also read articles about photographic techniques and especially interviews with photographers. They usually contain great hints and tips.
Then, go out and try to combine these different styles in new and creative ways. Do not be afraid of failure in your attempts. The worst that can happen is that your work is not appreciated, or some trolls will criticize it in the comments. Although that might not be a bad thing. After all, Van Gogh’s paintings were rejected by his contemporaries. However, the experience may advance you in the game and start a new direction in photography.
By experimenting, you can discover which photography styles suit you. Only when photographing to meet client contract requirements is it necessary to limit your style and portray what they expect. Even then, they probably commissioned you because they know and love your style.
Finally, the images I included in this article were a style experiment. Some I like more than others, and so I will adopt those methods which I prefer and reject others. Did you develop your own style? Or is having a unique originality not something you care about? It will be interesting to hear your opinions and see demonstrations of your style in the comments.