There are lots of reasons why you should find your photography style, one that’s unique to you. But finding it – and sticking with it – can be tough.
My own photography business soared as soon as I decided to concentrate on shooting film. I then specialised even further by concentrating on creating unique bridal portraits.
Specialising in a particular style meant that I appealed to a particular type of client, and naturally filtered out the ones that were not such a good fit for me – byebye bargain hunters and those who wanted black and white reportage!- because those visiting my website and social media pages could instantly see I didn’t offer or promote those things.
So, having a distinct style can definitely enhance your business.
Here are some of our top tips on finding your own photography style, so you can grow in confidence, and grow your business by creating a recognisable style that stands out!
- 1 Why You Want To Create Your Own Photography Style
- 2 How To Start Finding Your Own Photography Style
- 3 6 Easy Steps To Finding Your Photography Style
- 4 Light Vs Dark Style Photography – Do You Have To Choose?
- 5 What Do Your Clients Really Want?
Why You Want To Create Your Own Photography Style
Working within a certain style means your work has a certain ‘look’ to it. It means most of your images have something in common, whether that’s their colours, the angle you shoot from, or perhaps all your work has a similar theme or style.
A theme might be ‘nature’ or ‘whimsy’ for example, a style might be anything from ‘light and airy’ to ‘black and white reportage’.
Having a particular photography style enables you create a cohesive portfolio of images, which can help you to feel confident in marketing your business. When you feel confident in your work you are usually more confident in increasing your prices, which helps increase your profits.
And of course, having a distinct photography style helps your work to look great over on Instagram 😉
Finding your own photography style can also help you stand out in a saturated industry and set you apart from everyone in your local area.
So, there are many reasons you’d want to deepen and define your own photography style, but where to begin?
How To Start Finding Your Own Photography Style
You’re most likely reading this post for one of two reasons
1- you’re just starting out in photography, and you have a basic understanding of photography, and how to use your camera, and now you’re wondering how to go deeper and create your own recogniseable brand and style
2- you’ve been a photographer for a while, you might have even shot for multiple clients, but you have no distinct style that feels truly ‘yours’ and you’re confused around what it should look like.
Finding your own style can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. How on earth do you decide?
Should you focus (literally) on colour choices, which seems to be what most people do over on Instagram? Should you make your work darker, moodier, more dramatic, or go for light, bright and airy? And even then, should you go for warm tones, and make everything seem cosy and autumnal, or cool tones and have your work come across as more ethereal and magical?
And that’s just thinking about color, let alone allowing your stylistic choices, poses, location, angles, viewpoints, and equipment play a part in your unique style!
Your Photography Style Will Evolve Over Time
The first thing to understand when finding your own unique style is that your style will evolve over time. There is no rush to choose everything in one go!
Understanding that you don’t have to choose – and that sometimes, your style will choose you – means you take the pressure off yourself for your work to look a certain way.
But doesn’t this mean you are missing out on clients in the meantime? No! Your clients will come to you for you and the fact that you create beautiful work, whether that’s dark, light or anything inbetween. Somedays that might be a dark and moody portrait, and sometimes that might be light and bright.
The most important thing is not defining your style right away, but giving yourself permission to explore, create, and have fun with photography. If you do this, over time you will naturally become a better photographer and your own style and sense of what you like / dislike will evolve.
You will create your own distinct style, rather than rushing to emulate a current style just because it’s popular or because it’s what a current ‘industry leader’ is doing.
However, this is hard to do when Instagram tells you you will get 500K followers just by buying a certain type of preset!
But you know applying a particular preset doesn’t automatically make you a better photographer! It makes you someone who can use a preset. And using a set of presets doesn’t automatically you’ll be happy with your work in the long term, and more than likely the trend for that particular preset will come and go!
6 Easy Steps To Finding Your Photography Style
To build a brand and ‘look’ you are proud of, concentrate on play and experimenting with your photography, and keep on challenging yourself.
Here are some ways to do that
* Buy presets.
Sure, totally against what we just said! But buy LOTS of them, have fun with them, buy them in all different types and styles. Let’s face it, we live in a world where everyone buys presets now, even our parents use them. If you want to use presets because they save you time, effort, money and energy, go for it!
But you’re going to want to make sure you’re using them in a way that is unique, which means playing with them. Endlessly!
* look outside of photography for inspiration
It’s so tempting to look to other photographers and try to emulate what they do. Especially when they sell programs and courses on how to do it just like they do! The problem with this is that you’re only going to become a poor copy of what someone else is doing.
It’s not a bad place to start, and to learn style and technique, but to grow your own style and truly stand out, you’re going to need to build upon that foundation.
Think about painting or art, or even literature, as a place to begin. Take inspiration from outside of photography. Walk in nature, look around you and start to notice colour and shade and light. Try to think about how you can bring this into your work, instead of how you can apply a preset or do your colour like X photographer.
*Join in photography challenges.
There are millions of them over on Instagram, and you can search for them on Pinterest too. To find them, type in Photography Challenge or #photographychallenge.
Participating in these can help keep your work fresh and vibrant as you are forced to think outside what clients want to see.
* Remember it’s not all about colour.
With the presets available now it’s easy to think creating your own style is all about color. It’s not. The best photography helps people to feel some sort of emotion when they see it! Colour can definitely play a part in that. There is no denying the colors of a sunset make us feel something emotionally, which is why we are all drawn to watch sunsets.
But it is not the only way!
Maybe your style involves a particularly memorable location that you return to over and over again. Perhaps the snowy mountains of Switzerland, or Italian vineyards, and all your work is shot there only.
Maybe your work is influenced by great painters, and you can see that in every shot. Perhaps you shoot on an unusual type of camera or lens which gives your work a recogniseable style.
Maybe your work is about perspective, and you photograph children or family portraits in in vast natural landscapes. Etc.
The only way to define what your photography style is about involves you bringing more of who you are into your work.
*Journal and self-reflect.
For example, I’m currently working on bringing more nature into my portraits of women and children. Of showing our wilder nature. Because when I lived in the city in Thailand, I realised how much happier my body felt when I was on the ground, immersed into nature.
I used to concentrate a lot more on beautiful old buildings, but since I lived in a chateau in France I feel I am now at another stage in my life, of nature being the most beautiful thing we can rebuild and create. So my body of work is evolving to reflect that.
What experiences have shaped who you are as a person? Where are you happiest? What do you love to do outside of photography? What artists, writers, painters do you love? Who do you spend time with?
*Keep a sketchbook
At university we had to keep sketchbooks of all our photography work, and we were encouraged to make them as beautiful and as creative as we wanted. This was my absolute favourite thing to do! I’ve got masses of A3 sized notebooks still in stacks at my mum’s house in the spare room, and I love looking at them every time I go back to visit.
They’re stuffed with magazine clippings, writing, poetry, film scans, evaluations of my work, reflections, and inspiration. They’re such a valuable thing to do to keep track of how your work and style evolves – even then I can see I was attracted to portraits, old buildings, and romance, long before I started to photograph them and market my work to people who also like those things.
Light Vs Dark Style Photography – Do You Have To Choose?
The thing is we are currently in this age when we feel like your colour is the thing that defines your photography style! But it isn’t, and you most likely already know what you like to shoot, whether that’s old buildings or portraits of women or babies or whatever it is!
That IS your style, and so that is what you can market and promote!
You don’t have to choose between dark vs light, and there will be people who love BOTH just as much as you do! If you want to make it look visually more cohesive on your pages and social sites, you can group them together by theme, or colour, or subject.
The most important thing to consider when you want to find your photography style is that you don’t get caught up in wasting time thinking about ‘what is my photography style!’
Spend your time out there shooting instead, and living life outside of photography, and your work will become all the richer for it.
What Do Your Clients Really Want?
Think about it – put yourself in your client’s shoes! So say you want a wedding photographer, and you know you want beautiful images, but that’s about as far as you’ve got.
Are you likely to book ‘that black and white wedding photographer’ or ‘that woman who has written tons of beautiful posts about weddings, provided me with a free guide on how to get gorgeous images on the wedding day, shared her own wedding day thoughts and daydreams, and even gave me a link to book an online consultation right away?, PLUS she is happy to shoot all black and white and she has a few beautiful black and white images in her gallery’
Who would you be most likely to book, really?
Your clients don’t necessarily want to see a particular or definite style, that’s something that photographers have come to see as truth when it’s not the reality!
What To Concentrate On Instead Of Finding Your Photography Style
People can tell immediately how passionate you are about what you do, the second they land on your site / socials. If people can tell you shoot all the time because you are in love with it, you create good work, you’re in their price range (or slightly above)! and you’re in love with photography, they subconsciously pick up on your energy.
Not to get all ‘woo’ about it, but energy is contagious. If you’re energising and passionate about your subject, and you bound into that conversation excited to hear all about their baby / wedding / and show them how you can help them, do you really think your clients will care that much about your photographic style?
Of course you have to have good work, and you have to have experience, but your photography style is not going to be the defining choice as to whether or not someone books you.
And even if it is – there will be someone else that comes along who won’t care about that at all and will book you on the spot because they love your energy and dedication to what you do.
So feel free to concentrate on deepening your love with photography, keeping your work and life interesting, and sharing THAT with the world – because really, that’s what people will book you for.
And it’s probably a lot more fun than defining yourself by a particular ‘style’, anyway.
Being a photographer is about choosing to live a creative, happy, fulfilled and free life and business – don’t feel you have to restrict yourself to one particular style if it doesn’t feel good to do so.
What do you think? Can you still get bookings without having a particular style? Have you focused on one particular look? We’d love to know!