The Harsh Truth to Finding Your Style as a Photographer

After waiting years for it to finally have appeared, I might have saved myself hundreds of hours of disappointment had I just learned three valuable tips.

The Harsh Truth to Finding Your Style as a Photographer
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The Harsh Truths

To Finding Your Style as a Photographer

There may be a handful of photographers whose work you might immediately recognize due to their style of editing or vibe to the scene and subject. Perhaps it's the mood, the nostalgic edge, the light they prefer, or their unique color palette. Whatever it might be, there's a special something that evokes passion and feeling. It's the main component behind, "Oh, I know who took that picture" or "That photo looks like [photographer] 's work." As the artist, it's a compliment to receive either end.

But here's the harsh truth of it: finding your photographic style takes time. Precious hours sitting in front of your computer screen, hundreds of shots before you dig the right one, and what seems like a million emotional tolls before you finally find a resonating vibe — that's what it takes.

At one point, I had wondered when I would ever find my unique voice in photography, how the hell I could muster the courage to let it roll forward on its own. After waiting years for it to finally have appeared, I might have saved myself hundreds of hours of disappointment had I just learned three valuable tips.

Photo By @adventuresofstevegreen.

Photo By @adrianwilldie.

Photo By @weitzen.

Photo By @muddyknee.

You Will Never Find It, It Finds You

I remember opening my first ever batch of photographs from a shoot of my friends back in high school. Scrolling through endless amounts of RAW files in search of a right pose, only to find that I had no idea how to edit the photo once I finally found one. The canvas was blank, empty, yet full of possibilities. Should I punch the blacks and increase the blues in the highlights or tint it green, or, or, or…? I reluctantly sat in my seat full of hope, yet hollow without meaning.

There are, ironically speaking, dozens of articles on the web about finding your photographic style in a certain number of steps as if after you've indulged the tips, your form will suddenly emerge. Be it five, seven, ten, or fifteen — nothing moves you along the process faster than understanding the amount of time it takes to get there. While it's true you can find a few things to help move you farther along the route of success, like giving yourself assignments to push your creativity and studying the work of those you admire, such claims are only increments.

Think of your photography as a means of your personality; an original style is not something you can recreate by force of habit or be decided on and then pursued. While it's human to aim for a deciding personality, this idea is probed by the promotion of self-help books and isn't a very realistic start. We are who we are, and we can only improve from there — your style is an elaborate extension from that.

Photo By @ariesoria.

Photo By @davidoswald.

Photo By @theadventuringduo.

The More You Force It, The More Apparent It Becomes

Much like the point mentioned above, forcing a sub-division of your personality into a mold that doesn't quite fit will seem blatant to your audience. The feeling of ingenuity will spread like wildfire across your portfolio. For the past year, I've kept a secret set of sensations or ideas in my head as I shoot — a web of shapeless likes and loves of who I am, what I think, what I'm most instinctual about, and convey such levels in a scene. I've tried to bring that out in the images I take, including those I select for editing. Eventually, those tiny decisions will add up into something meaningful and worthwhile across your work.

Photo By @caseyainsworth.

Photo By @handheldtones.

Photo By @fahrulazmi.

Shoot What You Love

Know your subject well. Study it, love it, run like the wind with it.

Any expert will tell you to study your subject with precise detail; you need to know, as the photographer, what connects you between them and your audience. This will allow you to predict behavior or movements which leads to capturing even the most critical, decisive moments (oops, see what I did there? Take a shot). When you understand the subject well, you will have the fluidity of feeling and thought. There comes the knowing of how to compose a scene intuitively and the final thought of when to click the shutter. This dearest connection only comes from shooting what you love. For many, that might be weddings or families, others it might be travel and lifestyle. Whatever it might be, you have the power to create something beautiful with what it is you are most passionate about.

Do this, and your style will emerge without even trying.

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