Secrets For Developing Your Photographic Style

Secrets For Developing Your Photographic Style

There are the obvious tips everyone will tell you: read the manual, shoot in raw, pay attention to composition, understand light, and adjust your settings. Those are all very useful and important but here are a few lesser shared tips about developing your photographic style.

Take Your Camera Everywhere

The only way to get better at something is to practise. It doesn’t matter how good your camera is; if you don't know how to use it or have had very little practise, you’re going to take bad photographs. Everyone starts somewhere so if you’re worried about taking awful photographs, watch this video about the creative process.

Take your camera everywhere with you, take photographs as often as possible, and get super up close and personal with your equipment. Learn how it works, what it can do and what it can’t do; play around, have fun, try new things. The only way you can improve your photography is through taking photographs as often as possible and experimenting with composition.

It doesn’t matter how many tips and tricks you know or whether you understand every function your camera has; you can read books and attend courses and you might get better at taking mediocre photographs but you will never develop your own distinct photographic style unless you practise, practise, practise.

Set A Challenge

It could be something as simple as challenge yourself to take a photograph every day or a bigger commitment such as a 365 day project. Setting a challenge for yourself can help speed up the process of discovering and developing your photographic style.

If you’ve had an interest in photography and been taking photographs for a while, habits can form which prevent us from experimenting with our style. Getting stuck in a rut is a tough place to dig ourselves out of. By setting a challenge we can break those habits and push ourselves to improve our approach and ultimately our photographic style.

For this blog I challenged myself to switch from horizontal to vertical photography, which initially was tough. After two years of taking the same composition, making the switch was tricky but fun and my style has improved because of it. After falling a little bit out of love with Instagram, I challenged myself to develop a schedule and share at least one photograph each day. Not only did it help with the curation of content I shared on Instagram, it also helped me rapidly achieve the photographic style I was looking to express. See more: @ohmyclumsyheart_ and @theprivatelifeofagirl

Secrets For Developing Your Photographic Style Secrets For Developing Your Photographic Style

Create Style Boards To Define Your Aesthetic

Identifying the elements style and compositions we like is key to discovering the direction we want to head in with our own photography. Creating swipe files and style boards to identify what photography you enjoy (or dislike) and define an aesthetic that appeals to you is a useful way of learning how to take better photographs.

Use secret Pinterest boards and pin photographs that catch your eye. Make notes on what specifically you like about the photograph, what you can learn for the use of light, subject, or the composition. This collection of photographs is not for copying directly, it’s for identifying styles you wish to experiment with or emulate to better your own style. Everything is a remix. Use this swipe file to pick and choose elements to incorporate into your own style.

Do Something Different

With the constant pace that social media goes at, it’s very easy to fall into the habit of taking photographs in a style you know is currently popular online. It’s the safe option. Following trends almost guarantees you likes and comments. If all you’re interested in is increasing followers and gaining likes, you might be able to get by with good photographs that follow trends and reflect what’s popular. If you want to develop a photographic style that sets you apart and is identifiably yours you have to do something a little different.

When I started this blog it was a beauty blog. I started doing something no one else was doing at that time. Obviously I did not invent flatlays or even things organised neatly but no one at that time was combing the two and taking photographs of beauty products organised neatly on a white background. I've always done this with my shop's jewellery photography so I used the same technique when it came to my blog.

Doing something different makes you stand out. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t. Taking that risk by going in a different direction to everyone else is important to experimenting with and developing your personal photographic style.

Learn How To Edit

Editing can make a good photograph amazing, and even a bad photograph mediocre. Learning to edit is crucial to the development of photographic style. A lot can be emphasised, changed, or expressed through a few tweaks in the editing process. Learning how to use editing software, such as Photoshop, will improve your photographs and help enhance the finish result. Making key adjustments to the exposure and contrast, levels and curves, and colour balance is important, however, more importantly learning tools such as spot healing, dodge and burn, and clone stamping (amongst others) will benefit your finished results. These tools enable you to manipulate your photographs and achieve a result that consistently reflects your style but else help you achieve better results. Understanding photography and developing personal style is as much about physically taking the photograph as it is learning how to edit and achieve the final result.

Edit Consistently

If you’re learning how to use editing software or have discovered filters there is great enjoyment to be found in experimenting with all of them. It’s definitely favourable to play around with settings, try out filters, and apply different edits to see how the result turn out; however, the key to personal photographic style is consistently. Once you’ve figured out your editing process and results you like the most, stick to them. Those with a distinct photographic style have a consistency to their photographs by which they can be identified. If you’re chopping and changing between bright white, airy images and dark, moody filters it will be hard for people to pin down your aesthetic and identify you through your imagery alone.