Getting into photography is relatively easy, but developing your own style?
Now that is where the challenging journey begins.
Today’s article is all about your photography style, starting from identifying it to how to describe your photography style.
Let’s dive in!
What Does Style Mean in Photography?
So, what exactly is style in photography?
In photography, “style” generally refers to the way in which a photographer approaches their subject matter and creates their images. It is a combination of technical and creative choices, including the use of lighting, composition, color, contrast, and other elements that work together to create a cohesive aesthetic.
An original style is exceedingly rare in the world of photography.
The selected few can trademark their style as unique and original. In contrast, others are inspired by their work and integrate some parts into their “style”.
Some photographers’ styles lie in their habit when taking photographs, others credit their style to the post-production process.
To sum it up, your style is how you would usually take photos and edit them.
But how to find your photography style?
How to Find a Photography Style?
If describing and identifying someone’s style is already hard, then finding your own style would be extra-extra hard, right?
Especially when factoring in that the regular B&W (black and white), IR, and HDR (high dynamic range) do not directly translate into style.
Plus, your photo will not look special without style, and the pros will not even bat an eye.
All this pressure forces people to start searching “how to find a photography style” on Google, leading them to various articles (like this one).
Let us start from the beginning.
First, you should start taking photos and specialize in a particular field.
If you are just starting out, try different areas of photography based on your gear and likings.
After taking many photos for that field you will see a pattern of how you take your photos.
Pretty easy, right?
Well, it should be! It is still the first step anyway.
2. Do What You Do, But Differently
Secondly, you should try to do what you do but differently.
Let’s say that you like to shoot houses, but they look generic and ordinary.
Then try adding or removing certain elements that would make it more unique; use a new angle, different types of lights, or add models that further emphasize the house’s theme.
Step three, do a little research. You should assess if your “new” photography style fits your vision.
Compare your style to other photographers in your niche. Take inspiration from movies or other artists if you have to gain a foundation. Then try to copy their style and add your own twist to it.
Do you like it? Is there anything else that you would add to make it more unique?
Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.
We also recommend adding another unique style to your arsenal, maybe in a different photography field.
You can either find/make another photography style or stick with what you have and improve it further!
How to Describe Your Photography Style?
After finishing your new style, it is time to describe it to the public.
But how to express your photography style if you are still new to the industry?
Well, we provided a simple 5 step trick to help you with just that.
1. Observe Your Work
Before doing anything, you should gather all of your photos and see what you are working with.
Open the folder with your favorite photos in it and scroll down.
After a couple of minutes, you will see a pattern with your elements and designs.
This is where you head to the next step!
2. Identify Your Re-occurring Elements or Designs
Elements are the building blocks in composition; they show how you choose to implement the elements into the photo.
Examples of these elements include lines, textures, shapes, forms, colors, value, and space.
On the contrary, your Principle of Design is a general idea you have when arranging the elements.
Some design principles are balance, unity, variety, movement, patterns, and scales.
Look at both of these aspects and narrow your photos down to 5 of them.
Maybe your style has an emphasis on lines, textures, space, and unity.
Although having more than five is okay, we recommend keeping it simple and precise.
3. Assess the Themes and Moods
Themes are like tags; they describe your art piece without feelings.
Some popular themes are pop art, nature, artificial, and vivid. Identifying a theme can be done by just looking at the bigger picture.
On the other side, moods are heavily determined mostly by your lighting and subject.
Lighting such as soft lights from fog or clouds in the woods may create moods reminiscent of a vulnerable feeling of being lost in the woods.
The harsh, blinding light emanating from the sun may create a harsh mood for the viewers.
While your subject can bring out different moods depending on the viewers’ relationship with it.
For example, a person sitting alone on a bench would bring a solitary or even peaceful mood, depending on the viewer.
We also recommend surfing the web for a mood/theme list whenever you feel lost.
4. Write and Journal It Down
Do not forget to journal your photos down.
Maybe grab/download a photography journal to change your perspective on a particular theme or mood.
You could pick an empty book to journal upon and brainstorm your question but searching on google for questions can also do the trick.
5. Ask for Others’ Opinions
So, you have already reviewed your own style, and you already gave it fitting themes and moods.
Now’s the time to go out of your personal space and ask for others’ opinions.
Listen closely to the words and the reason behind those words.
Remember that your process will go through trial and error, but always keep your chin up!
The process will repeat itself (and it should) until you are satisfied.
Common Types of Photography Styles
There are many photography styles out there, but here are some common types of them:
1. Portrait Photography
Portrait photography is one of the most common styles out there.
These pictures capture an individual/group’s personality and mood.
Photos are commonly posed, but there are also full-body and even candid.
Photojournalism is storytelling via photo.
They should be as objective and truthful as possible while capturing candid moments on the fly for the perfect shot.
Photojournalists usually come to planned events to capture spontaneous moments to be published in magazines and newspapers.
3. Fashion Photography
Fashion photography, everyone knows and has seen this one for sure.
Clothes, shoes, and accessories are taken to be more attractive to potential customers.
Commonly posted online and in magazines, photographers are forced to put in extra effort to make products even more eye-catching.
4. Still Life Photography
Still-life photography takes photos of still objects (obviously).
These objects can be man-made or natural, depending on their purpose.
Usually, these pictures are used for product advertising.
There are still many more photography styles that are common or even rare.
Try going for a google search or select the styles above to start your niche.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does every photographer need a unique style?
While it’s not necessary for every photographer to have a completely unique style, having a defined and consistent style can help differentiate a photographer from others and can be an important part of building a brand and attracting clients.
When should a photographer develop a style?
Photographers can begin to develop their style at any point in their career, but it’s generally a good idea to start thinking about it early on.
The ability to find and describe your photography style is something that will not be achieved overnight.
The process takes time but also builds the photographer’s foundation.
Enjoy the process and find your style!
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate runs his own professional photography business called Nate Torres Photography. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.