As the title suggest I want to write to you about my photo style. Specifically about what I think about it and how I “discovered” my own photo style.
This past year I’ve started to concentrate more on my photography. Trying to express my creativity through my photos. So not just taking photos anymore but actually think before making the photograph. I believe that for every starting photographer there comes a time that just taking photos is not enough, not satisfying anymore. And this can be a difficult transition.
For me this happened when I had enough technical skills and felt confident in using my camera, I could easily take the photos that I wanted to. But sadly having the technical skills alone wasn’t enough. I needed to start thinking creatively, but that was easier said than done. Even though I always considered myself to be creative, in the beginning I had a lot of trouble in creating “creative” photos (whatever that means). Because how do you put your own creativity in photos? It sounds easy to do, but it requires a different approach. So I started researching personal photo styles, one of the Holy Grails in photography, every famous photographer seems to have it. ‘But why does it seem that I can’t “find” my photo style?’ I thought.
But what is a photo style?
For me personally a photo style is nothing more than a pattern in your photos. A few examples:
- Consistency in subject matter, so only landscapes or portraits for example
- Editing your photos in a certain way, like only black & white or high contrast or high saturation
- Always using the same lens or camera
- Only using analog film
- Or no consistency at all (which is also a form of consistency)
As you can see, it’s all about consistency. Being consistent, one way or another, in your photos is your personal photo style. I believe that you shouldn’t make it any more than that.
A “photo style” is often overrated in my opinion. It should never become an obsession. Nor should it ever hold you back to take a photo.
A photo style is just a guide. You don’t always have to follow it. Sometimes it’s nice to go the other way and don’t stick to the path.
My photo style is a reflection of myself. I photograph the things I like, like flowers & landscapes, but also things I see in urban environments. I like to use different cameras, so besides my digital camera I also photograph with instant and analog cameras. I tend to shoot more minimalistic compositions, though this isn’t always the case. I think that I can call my photo style “personal & diverse”, not confined to just nature or urban phots. Though there is a certain consistency in my subject matter.
How did I find my photo style?
I won’t say it was easy, but it at least was easier than I expected. I started to ask myself one very important, but difficult, question.
“Why do I photograph?”
This is of course a question that isn’t easily answered. There are many ways to answer it. Some people photograph simply to make money. While some people use photography to create art. And there are many more ways to answer this question. But let’s talk about my answer.
To answer this question I said to myself that I photograph simply because I like to do it. But as you can see this answer is a bit meaningless. It didn’t really answer the question. I still didn’t said why I photographed. I only acknowledged that I liked to do it, which of course I already knew. I started to think more about it but couldn’t come up with a better answer, this bothered me. Why can’t I even answer this simple question?
So one day I went out for a walk and took my camera with me. This is what I usually do to calm down. After a while it didn’t bother me that I had trouble to answer this question. I simply didn’t thought about it, I was focusing on making photos. And that was the moment that I realized something.
In my mind it’s always busy. I have way too many ideas (which I should write down but never seem to do). I always want to do too many things at once, which I don’t consider a good thing. But as I took more photos I started to clear my head. And I came to the conclusion that photography helps me to focus better, no pun intended. It helps me to organize the ideas in my head.
Photography is my way to clear my head. To use all the ideas in my head to create something beautiful, maybe even meaningful.
Just as my photo style, personal & diverse.
So for me photography is very personal. I don’t do it to make money or to get a lot of attention. I don’t make photos for anyone but myself, which I think is fine. Not everyone has the ambition to be famous. And if I make some money with my photos I would be very happy, though I don’t consider that as my main goal to strive to. As long as photography helps me to feel better I will be satisfied, which I think is the most important part. I hope this also applies to you.
But what does this mean for my photo style?
When I look at my photos I can see myself in them. My photos grouped together can be chaotic, with color, black & white and even toned black & white photos mixed together. But I tend to make more minimalistic photos. In this I can see the effect that photography has on me. It’s much more peaceful, like I’m more relaxed when I’m making the photos.
So as you can probably see, my photos are a reflection of myself. I also like to experiment with different photography mediums, especially with analog film that I develop myself. A result of my busy mind I think. But I am a bit chaotic and I don’t believe I should hide that fact. I will always be myself and I hope that my photos reflect that. Knowing this makes me feel more satisfied with the photos I’ve taken.
I hope that by sharing this experience you can find your photography style too. Or at least help you understand why you take photos. I’m also interested in hearing your opinions about your photo styles. If you have one and how you found it or maybe why you don’t have one.
So please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
P.S This is my first blog post. What do you think about it? Should I write more about my own experiences, just like this blog post?