Developing your own unique photography style can be a bit of a journey, it can be really difficult to know where to start when the industry is so saturated with different styles already. Don’t worry, though, I’ve got your back. Finding your own style isn't going to happen overnight, and it is process that really needs to be nurtured. You need to start somewhere. Here are a few steps I have tried and tested that have helped me to develop and refine my own clear style.
1. Collect inspiration from everywhere.
You may think that by this I mean to look at other photographers work, this is true in part. For the main part, though, the most important thing is to just be inspired. What makes your heart beat that little bit faster? What music do you listen to when you want to feel inspired? Where do you go when you are in a rut about what to photograph? What is your fail safe? Focusing on all of the things that you know inspire you can really help you to get in tune with your inner creative, which, in turn, will help you to inspire others. It sounds airy and fanciful, but trust me on this one. If you want to succeed as an artist and find your own style, you need to know what makes you tick.
Action step: write a list of all of the things that you find inspirational, outside of photography. Once you have done this, write down why they inspire you, how they make you feel and what they motivate you to do.
2. Collect inspiration from other artists.
Once you understand your personal inspiration a little better, it is time to start looking to other photographers or artists that inspire you. You aren't looking to copy others, imitation is pointless as you can never stand out as an artist, but it is good to have a starting point, a goal to aim for, and often, while you are on the way to achieving these goals, you will find yourself tweaking the way you look at something. The main thing to keep in mind here is that you are absolutely NOT trying tomake your work the same as the photographers you are inspired by, but understanding the ways that other photographers achieve their style can really help you on the path to finding your own.
Action step : Take three of your favourite photographs from your favourite photographers and analyse them. What is it about their work that you love? How would you describe their style? How do you think they achieved it? What could you take away from it without copying or stealing their ideas?
3. Collect inspiration from your own work.
After every photography session, look at your work and decide what you love and what you don't love. Knowing which photographs make you feel proud, and which ones make you cringe a little is so beneficial in the early stages of finding your photography style. Never view a failure as a negative, never look at an old session and wonder what you were thinking, these mistakes will really help you to learn more than any of the other above steps.
Action step : grab your least favourite and favourite photograph from your last session and analyse it as much as possible. Evaluate what you love and don't love about both images, and compare your notes. The more you do this, the more you will refine your photographic style, and you will go into the next session feeling much more prepared when it comes to techniques you want to use, and techniques you want to scrap.
4. Consistency is key.
When finding your style, one thing that us absolutely necessary is consistency. What do I mean by consistency? There should be a clear correlation between the styles of all of your photographs. You should be able to look at photos from every single session you do, and be able to lay photos side by side without any clash. By doing this, people will recognise a photograph as your own. One thing I get told a lot is that when people see my photographs, they know they are mine before they even see my name. This is because everything I post is consistent. This isn't to say that you can only ever shoot in one style, I shoot in various styles depending on my mood, but what everyone sees are the images that consistently represent my overall portfolio, and therefore my images, in turn, become my brand.
Action step : If you have Instagram (which as a photographer you absolutely should!), take a look at your feed. Do all of your photographs flow nicely together? Can you spot a theme? If not, what could you do to improve this, and how?
All in all, finding your style is a process. The best thing you can do to tackle any photography related problem, is practice. You should be practicing your photography on a daily basis, regardless of your skill level, in order to spot the best techniques and weed out the bad ones. Let me know if you have tried any of the above tips or action steps, I’d love to hear about your progress!