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Style. How do you find it? Is it something that instantly comes into being once you begin taking photos, or does it develop over time? It's likely that your favourite photographers have a way of working that makes them stand out from the rest. Certain angles, color combinations, and depths of field create a watermark of sorts in their photographs. If you were to look through many photo thumbnails, you'd instantly figure out which ones belonged to those artists. There's no science to it. You just know.
The truth is that no matter how unique a photographer's style is, they began their photography journey without knowing anything about that future style. Like everyone else, they started out without experience, creative knowledge, or practice. It's very likely that they were just as clueless as you at the beginning of their experiments. They weren't aware of their camera's capabilities or their talent.
This feeling of newness is universal – nobody is born knowing an abundance of information. Similarly, nobody discovers an interest and instantly becomes a professional. This universal feeling is something worth remembering, as it can serve as a great encouragement during times of self-doubt and creative dryness. No matter how inexperienced you think you are, there's a way for you to become a fantastic photographer. All you need is patience, willingness, and openness. Here are 3 tips on how to discover your personal style as a photographer:
Take as Many Photos as You Can
When I first started taking photos, I didn't follow any specific rules. I simply shot what fascinated me, collaborated with family and friends, and had a generally fun time. I even started a 365 project for which I took photographs every single day. In addition to befriending wonderful artists, I watched online workshops and absorbed as much information as I could. However, I found that the most valuable information came to me during the shooting process. It's a given that books, articles, and videos possess an infinite amount of valuable knowledge, but a unique type of wisdom lies in experience itself.
Though a 365 project might seem like a frightening challenge to commit to, it's something worth considering. Taking photos often, especially as a beginner, will help you familiarize yourself with all kinds of creative challenges. Thinking of interesting ways to photograph seemingly mundane objects will nurture your imagination and help you grow. Such projects don't require hours upon hours of work on a daily basis; dedicating 10-15 minutes of your time to a set of photos will suffice. Skipping days is also fine – after all, this is a personal project that's meant to help you grow, not bring you down. If you treat large projects like this as foundations or skeletons for your general improvement, you'll notice your creativity and imagination thriving in no time.
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Find your favourite genre(s)
Another important factor to consider is genre. It's very likely that you're already interested in a specific kind of photography, be it landscape, portraiture, wildlife, or something entirely different. Why do you love that specific genre? What if experimenting with other types of photos will add to your collection of interests and turn you into a more diverse artist? If you're not sure what exactly it is that you admire, research the various kinds of genres and experiment with each one. In my personal life, something I've recently come to admire is photojournalism. Having several interests within the photography world will provide you with more job/client opportunities and help you maintain your open-mindnedness, something that's absolutely vital for creatives. Though there's an abundance of genres out there, here are a few you may like:
• Underwater: Ideal for those who love swimming and scuba diving. Underwater equipment isn't necessary; a cheaper alternative can be a waterproof disposable camera, such as the Fujifilm Waterproof Single Use Camera.
• Travel: If you often take trips (even to a nearby town), travel photography is something you should experiment with. The photos you take during your trips will both allow you to preserve your memories and strengthen your creative observation skills.
• Sports: Fans of any kind of sport will thoroughly enjoy this genre. Taking photos of fast-moving people and objects will compel you to really be in the moment.
• Wildlife: This genre can be combined with travel photography. Those who have the chance to visit tropical countries will cherish the beauty of wildlife photography. Exotic insects and animals thriving in their natural habitats are a sight to behold.
• Fashion: If clothing and style have always caught your eye, this genre will fulfill you. Fashion photographers enjoy documenting various people and their styles. This genre is often filled with vibrant colors, interesting locations, and lots of collaborations.
Discover your retouching & color correcting preferences
Whether you have experience with editing or not, understanding your editing preferences will bring you closer to your style. Certain photographers enjoy spending hours perfecting their images, while others dedicate only a few minutes to such enhancements. Some don't edit their results at all. Though these types of people are very different, they all have an editing style. Even leaving your images unedited is a style. So, what's yours?
Like discovering photography genres, finding an editing style requires patience and experimentation. Most editing programs have in-built presets or actions that will instantly enhance a photograph. Using these as foundations for your work will allow you to realize what works and doesn't work for you. Similarly, you can create your own presets and actions – this will give you full control over every aspect of an image. Since there are so many editing options, it's more than possible to find a set of tools that will transform your shots into something you feel is truly yours. Try out different retouching and color combinations. With time, you'll find what works best for you. Once you do, you'll be able to evolve, enhance, and perfect your editing style. This will have a significant impact on your work, allowing you to grow as both a photo editor and a photographer.
The discovery of a style isn't instant. There are no fireworks or standing ovations when it happens. Discovering your style is a lifelong process that begins as soon as you start taking photos of various subjects and working with various editing methods. The more you practice, the more you'll understand your preferences. Eventually, your work will stand out in its own unique and wonderful ways.