As a photographer, few things are more important than your signature style. Your signature style is your defining mark on your photography – your own unique perspective that you share with the world.
Capturing photos in a way that reflects your own style and creative vision is the best way to set your work apart from everyone else’s – and quite possibly, the only way to create images that stand out.
Think of great photographers – or movie directors, artists, or authors that you admire. Often, when it comes to skilled, well-known creatives, you can recognize their work as soon as you see it. This is because they have developed their own signature style, and it’s immediately obvious in their work, and their iconic masterpieces.
Developing your own style, though, involves more than simply willing it into existence or stumbling upon it one day. The fact is that for most of us, developing our vision is a journey, and something that needs to be consciously cultivated.
If you’re looking to take your photography to the next level, here’s how you can develop your vision and create works of art that stand apart from the crowd.
1. Master the Basics
It’s difficult to be creative if you’re constantly struggling with lighting, exposure, and the settings on your camera. In order to develop your style, you’ll want to be able to focus on being creative rather than having to spend time thinking about technical details. Mastering your camera’s settings, and learning to work with the light, as well as other tools that you have at your disposal – post processing, for instance – allows these things to become second nature, which will they free you up to focus on being creative and capturing the image that you want.
2. Analyze Your Images
If you’re having a hard time discovering what it is that you’re passionate about, analyze your images. When you look at your best work, what do you see? What aspects of photography and which subjects or compositions really make you come alive? Analyzing your work can be an extremely beneficial exercise. The photos that you captured that have the most depth, interest.
3. Discover What Inspires You
What inspires you? What is it that motivates you to pick up a camera? While it’s easy enough to say that it’s landscape photography, portraits, or macros that you enjoy capturing, developing your signature style involves taking things a few steps further. Ask yourself what it is about landscapes, portraits, or macros, that you really enjoy. Is it the thrill of capturing a storm building on the horizon, or the way the evening light cascades across the landscape? Maybe you’re motivated to explore the minuscule worlds that are found in close-ups of nature.
Spending some time reflecting on what it is that really interests you is one of the first steps towards developing your creative vision.
4. Learn Everything You Can About Your Niche
Once you’ve identified your interest, you’ll want to take time to learn everything you can about it. If you want to be a wedding photographer, for instance, you’ll want to make sure you know what’s involved with shooting weddings, and everything that it entails. You’ll want to make sure you know what you’re in for, and prepared to put in the work that’s involved. It’s also a great idea to learn from other photographers that are experts in this particular field – studying their photos, and seeing what works for them will help you to improve your own photography. This doesn’t mean to copy their style, but looking at their work will inspire you, and help you to make your own ideas come to life.
Finally, remember, developing your signature approach is an ongoing progress. Even great photographers of the past changed and adjusted their style throughout the course of their lives as their attitudes shifted and perspectives developed.