Unfortunately, it is not always possible to emulate another photographers work exactly. Ha! Hands up - been there, tried such and wrote about it here: 6 ways to build confidence as a photographer. But for now, let's consider the benefits of "knowing your OWN photography style" as well as how to achieve this goal.
Firstly, the benefits of knowing your own unique photography style
- You will discover which type of locations / subjects / lighting conditions inspire you to make art and will instinctively know which camera setting to use for such from experience. You won't waste time on those locations and lighting conditions which don't deliver your desired results (at least not through choice).
- You will spend less time editing because you know which sliders, etc to use in Lightroom / Photoshop to achieve your preferred look and tend to stick to the same editing routine for the majority of your work.
- You will become more focused regarding what you need to learn to enhance your work and as a result be less willing to spend time on equipment and training which doesn't keep you on track.
- You will discover which photography genres work for you and which ones don't. This makes it easier to know what to invest in when it comes to workshops and equipment and could also save you money.
- You will feel happier and more organised having a consistent portfolio of work which in turn will increase your confidence as an artist and encourage you to grow and learn even more.
- Your images will be identifiable so that when people view your work - no matter what the genre - they will instinctively see your signatory style and know you are the artist who produced them.
How to achieve these goals
It's all very easy talking about the benefits of "knowing your photography style" which are great, but it's not so easy achieving such when you're first starting out! Personally, I don't claim to know all there is to know about photography, because I'm nowhere near such, but I do realise what works for me and what doesn't. My advise to anyone seeking to find their photography voice is:
- Keep shooting, editing and learning what works and what doesn't work for you.
- Make mental or actual recorded notes re: lighting conditions and camera settings when they work out.
- Apply the same as above when it comes to editing techniques in Lightroom / Photoshop.
- Study your favourite photographers' images and try and work out what time of day they have chosen, what type of lighting / shadow techniques, etc they have used and have a go yourself. You may not achieve the exact same results, but you might just be surprised to find that you have created something remarkably distinct and beautiful which has YOUR OWN stamp on it instead!
- Composition may also become part of your individual style. Perhaps you enjoy shooting your subject/s by placing them central in the frame or along the top left of right rule of thirds, etc. That's fine as long as you change it up sometimes for a bit of variety.
- The type of lighting you opt to use may also become part of your style. I have a friend who likes to shoot in backlight a majority of the time. Another uses sun bursts often in her work. I personally like side light.
- High key or low key photography can also become part of your signature style.
- Matte editing can also be something that stands your work out as belonging to you. There are a ton of free tutorials on the internet that teach how to edit matte style.
- Vintage / retro editing is another marker that is unique to some photographers. You can purchase Lightroom presets if you'd like to try such, or you can learn how to make your own.
- Once you have found your signature style and feel more confident, you may also want to add textures, etc to create fine art which may likewise become unique to you.
- Take up a project. See Project 365 below.
All these things are useful to know and can help you find your photography voice.
"Keep learning. Keep trying. Keep on keeping on and sooner or later your own personal photography style will start to shine through."
Having all your images together in a project like 365 can help you notice a pattern forming in your work, e.g.
Project 365 has helped me notice that I tend to shoot central, using the perfect spiral or along the rule of thirds. Matte editing seems to work for me. I seem to lean towards shadows and moody lighting a majority of the time.... etc.If you are new to photography, or even someone who has struggled for ages to find your way like myself, why not try Project 365 and find out if it could work for you? This project has helped thousands of photographers discover their voice and grow and it could help you likewise if you are willing to give it a go.