Finding Your “Style”

Do you have a “style”? (spoiler – yes, you do)

How do your know? How do you find it? Does it matter if you develop one?

At some point, most people who wish to shoot “seriously” (whatever that means) wrestle with these questions. But if you’ve gotten to the point where you care, you probably already have one. You should have a deep enough body of work that you have intuitively developed your style and have enough examples to look at to discover what it is.

You have a point of view, the way you see the world around you that is different from anyone else. This determines your style. It comes naturally. When you select the lens to use and where to stand and how to compose and light your subject you are doing it based on your style. When you select the subject you want to shoot, it is guided by your style. These decisions make your image uniquely yours. Other people will make different decisions for the same subject.

To develop your style, though, you have to have the courage to make the decisions that guide your result. If you feel the subject should be shot from a certain location and the people with you or a workshop leader disagrees, listen to their opinion, but then do what feels best to you. You may not be “right”, that is, you may not like the result, but you made that image based on your beliefs at the time. That is letting your style develop. More often than not, listening to your gut is the best thing to do.

Look back through your images. I hope you grade and categorize them to let the best ones emerge. Be brutal in doing that. Examine the ones you feel best about – feel best about, not the ones that may be technically sharpest or follow the “rules”. Then decide what they are telling you about yourself. You should see patterns: of subject, of lens, of composition, of lighting, of color. There are many variables, but you should see themes. If these are the ones that you feel best about, learn from them and learn what your style is.

So, does it matter if you develop a style? Don’t worry about it. You have one already. Your preferences and likes and experiences lead you to approach an image a certain way. That is your style.

11 Replies to “Finding Your “Style””

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