1 – Zen camera
First find your zen camera or the model of camera, like the Canon 5D, Leica M, Fuji X100. Whatever it is, find that one camera you love to use, and shoot with it exclusively. In doing this your images will always have a consistent look and feel when it comes to your body of work and long term projects. It’s hard to find that perfect camera that’s right for you. But once you find a model you enjoy holding in your hands, pressing the shutter button and overall feel, it will liberate you. Once you have a camera that gives you everything you need and nothing more, you have found it. Find your zen camera and only photograph with it, never stray away from it.
2 – Post processing
Have a post process, be it sending your film away to be developed at a lab, or using a set preset in lightroom and tweaking from there, or using a retoucher. Whatever your process is after taking the photograph keep doing it. An evolution in your post-processing work is a good thing but dramatic change just means you haven’t found a look that’s for you, which is OK. The trick is to find that one process your happy to stick with long term. This will have a dramatic influence on your style and keep your work consistent.
3 – Lens
This comes after finding your zen camera, find your favourite focal length or lengths, and stick with them. If you shoot 28mm stick with it, for environmental and portraits, this will instantly give yourself a unique look and style to your work. If you like 85mm or one wide and one telephoto lens make that balance your style. Whatever you settle on, stay with it, even in hard situations because it will force you to think and approach a subject differently to everyone else. Have intent when capturing your subject, don’t just use a zoom lens and adjust in or out without purpose.
4 – Subject
Are you a portrait, wedding, fashion, journalism, fine art or landscape photographer. Are you interested in environments or people? Pick a subject and stick with it, That’s not to say you can’t take still lifes and portraits and use them in a series. Do it, but if that’s your thing stick with it. Do portrait and still lifes. Be a master of one instead of a jack of all trades. Limit yourself and your work to a maximum of two or three genres. Still lifes, portraits, landscapes for example. This would work perfectly for a wedding photographer, you shoot portraits, the environments or event locations and details still lifes of the couples rings for example. Whatever it is, try, play and stick to a subject and get really good at it. Be the go-to person for that one subject in your area, Don’t be an “I can do that as well” photographer.
5 – Know yourself and your intentions
If your the kinda person who likes to talk, talk and interact with your subjects, or the people that will help you gain access. If your quiet and don’t like interacting, be the photographer who stays in the background, not disturbing your subject or the event you’re attending. Whoever you are, be true to yourself because this will make your photography unique. Know what you want and where you want to go. Otherwise, every move and photo you make will have no purpose or intent. Know what you want, know and have an idea of why your there. Go on assignments and capture a subject your way, this will make the way you capture an image unique to only you.
6 – Single or a series of images
Are you a photographer who captures everything in one image, and hangs it on a wall. Or are you the photographer who does a series for editorial or gallery exhibitions. Do you spend time on that perfect image or do you capture everything as a collaborative whole? Be one or the other, campaign, social media feed, editorial or exhibition photographer, Master one or the other. Have a think about this, one option is a story with a beginning, middle and end, and the other option is to have the entire narrative in one capture.
7 – Colour or black and white
Pick one or both, but never very. And really think to yourself if you love colour or monochrome. Is your style about representing the world as we see it, or is your style about removing an element and stepping away from reality that little bit. Pick one or combined the two consistently, which is hard to do successfully, but that just might be your strong point when it comes to your style. Capture colour or monochrome with a style that represents how you perceive the world.
8 – Message
What are you trying to say? What do you want people to see, feel think about when they look at your work? Or is your work an escape from your own reality, like a form of meditation or therapy. You need to have a message, a thought or idea that is cohesive throughout your work, that can tie it together. Your message, your meaning, your idea. What do you want to say to the world? What does the world need to see that you care about?
9 – Be yourself
This can be hard for most people because we put on an avatar, we hide our thoughts and feelings from the world because we are scared of getting criticised or hated. News flash, everyone is different and everyone has their own unique views of the world. No one is the same, which makes this world beautiful and terrifying at the same time. It is the nail that sticks out of the floor boards that gets the hammer, but at least you were noticed. So be yourself without compromise, be that nail without being apologetic. Once you know who you truly are and aren’t afraid to show it. The world will shine through your unique lens revealing your style that little bit more.
10 – Consistency
You might have picked this up already but consistency reinforces your style. Sure you can be that person who consistently changes and that might be your thing. But if you think about all the great photographers you admire, they always have something consistent throughout their work. Be consistent yourself, have a cohesive style through your body of work, use the same camera for a project, same lens. Follow one subject matter or event. Focus on the same emotions, message or story. Use a workflow that is right for you. Cover what matters to you in your own way, be it a series of images or singular photograph. Use the same post-processing method giving your work the same look, be it colour, black and white or both. Be consistent, be yourself, and show the world what you care about through your lens.
- Camera fundamentals (coming soon)
- 10 ways to develop your photographic style
- Deliberate style
- The number one challenge (coming soon)
- Deliberate practice
- Foster your passion