Creative Photography – Finding your Photographic Style

Don’t Settle for the Mundane

Taking photographs is now easier than ever before. Advanced digital cameras are relatively inexpensive to buy and easy to use, and the availability of smartphone cameras means that people are always ready to take a picture. Sadly, that doesn’t mean that the quality of pictures most people take has improved. It could be argued that taking photographs all the time means people are more likely to take mundane pictures, and that photography has become too routine. If you want to advance as a creative photographer, one answer is to find your own photographic style.

Ensure Consistency In Your Work

The wide range of options available means that many photographers are constantly changing styles and techniques, and never settle into their own natural style. As well as the flexibility offered by modern cameras, further options are added by image editing software. Creative techniques which were only available to the top professionals are now open to all. Any image can be enhanced and improved in hundreds of different ways, and advances in technology mean that cameras and lenses are capable of more than ever before. Developing your own photographic style is a great way to ensure consistency in your work, and to push your creative boundaries for more satisfying results

Many photographers define their work by the genre or subject they prefer to focus on. Landscape photographers, portrait photographers and documentary photographers are examples of how some label themselves. In reality, most people will tackle a wide range of subjects, and should be flexible enough to photograph anything. It’s good to specialize in one genre, but this shouldn’t define all of your work as a photographer. It’s far more rewarding to create your own distinctive image style, and to use this style to approach a range of subjects.

I just told you to ensure consistency in your work, but creating an individualistic style for your work is actually an evolutionary process in photography. You must experiment and dabble for some time before you can truly determine how your images will look. It’s unlikely you will find your own unique style quickly, and you should be prepared to change and adapt your approach along the way.

Concentrate On Using One Medium Above Others

Choosing your preferred photographic medium is a key step in discovering your style. You may prefer working in black and white, using bold colors in your photographs or producing pictures with a high dynamic range. If you find a particular medium suits your images, concentrate on using it above others. This can be a defining moment for the creative photographer, and will set you apart from those who dabble with different techniques and styles but never master one.

Once you have chosen your medium, you can begin to develop a look and feel for your work. This is a more complex stage of defining your style, and further experimentation is required. Trial and error will lead you to create images which convey the feelings and emotions you want to express. This can be refined over time, and you will soon start to sense something consistent in every photograph you produce. Once you feel your work has its own style, it’s important not to push the boundaries too quickly. If you look at the work of the great artists and painters, you will see the consistency they achieved with their own styles.

Finding and sticking to your own photographic style can be a real challenge, but the rewards are great and worth working for.

Where do you start?

1) Develop an understanding of the basics.

Understand the exposure triangle. Become very aware of the relationships between aperture, shutter speed, and sensitivity (ISO)

2) master your camera’s controls.

When you pick up a new camera, become very familiar with it’s controls. If can be very frustrating to understand how to make a good photograph, but not be able to find the dial or menu setting that you need.

3) Look at the work of others who concentrate on the genre/medium that you enjoy.

I won’t tell you to copy another photographer’s work, but there is great value in trying to learn how a specific image was made. Once you have the ability to recreate what you have seen others do, add you own vision. Eventually, your style will emerge.

4) Compare your vision to your results.

Know why you take every picture. Have a reason for releasing the shutter. Have a vision. That’s step #1. Now, study every image you make. Compare it to you vision – your reason to taking it. Did you achieve, on your monitor or in print, what you envisioned in your minds? If yes, congratulations. Now, how can you improve it? How can you stretch your stylistic and creative wings?

If you didn’t match your vision, why not? Was it a camera setting, the composition, your use of lighting (natural or artificial)? Figure out what you could have done to more closely match your vision. Perfectly fine photos are made everyday, but they are failures if they don’t match the photographer’s vision. Other may complement you, but inside, we know when we didn’t achieve our vision. That is our goal!

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Esther Pupung