Personal style is what every photographer and creative strives for. That elusive thing that makes you stand out from the rest. It’s something ALL of us consider and work towards as we progress through our photography careers.
I remember a few years ago being very conscious about my personal style. I wanted it to be better. Looking around at other photographers around me, I would lust after editing and composition styles wishing my work could be more like that. It plagued me and kept me up in the middle of the night.
What I’ve learned however over the last few years is that personal style doesn’t come from what others have or in how your peers create their work.
Shoot what you love
The first part of finding your personal style is to shoot what you love. I’m a huge advocate for just doing the work you want to do and am pretty stubborn in not doing anything else. Your personal style will always find its home in the work you love to shoot so there’s no sense worrying yourself when you’re shooting something you don’t enjoy and you’re not 100% happy with your work.
If you love to shoot weddings, do that. If you love to shoot creative portraits, do that. If you love to drag yourself out of bed at 3am to chase the sunrise, do that! You’ll find your personal style doing that, I promise you.
Shoot how you love
There are a million and one different ways to shoot something and everyone has an opinion on it. Shoot wide. Shoot with a telephoto. Don’t use that lens. Shoot with a tripod. Don’t shoot with a tripod. Use presets. Edit manually. Use these settings. Don’t shoot in P mode (oh the horror).
If you want to find your personal style then shoot how you love. For me I love to shoot on the longer end, shooting through things to give context and depth and love to show speed and dynamic movement. What I don’t like is wide angle shots that show everything including the bin in the corner.
Like if you want to find your own style shoot what you love just the way you love to do it. And repeat it. Over and over and over again until it becomes a part of who you are.
Mix it up somethings
Any style will get stale after a while if you don’t do anything about it.
I see a lot of up and coming photographers who’ve got all the same stuff as you scroll through their work. It’s good for anyone’s personal style to mix it up a bit from time to time. If you shoot a lot of live action stuff like me, try grabbing some folks and shooting some portraits with them, you might just find something new you can apply to the main body of your work. Likewise, if you’re predominately a studio photographer, go out and shoot a landscape once in a while and see what you can learn from it.
You don’t need to share the images with anyone but the challenge of doing something new might help you to push your personal style on. It might inspire you to bring something new to work and see it in a different way.
Find your personal style is a process rather than a buy it off the shelf box. Experiment and try things.