Turning Pro ~ Part IV: Style Development and Life Long Learning
A few weeks ago I wrote 15 Tips About Turning Pro. I thought it would be a good time to expand on some of those tips and add a few more. Today’s article is the fourth in that series. Hope you find these new suggestions useful. If you missed the previous three articles in the series, you can read them here: Portfolio and Persistence, People Skills and Generosity and Passion and Vision.
Style is inimitable. It is your unique vision, influenced by your personal experiences and knowledge. Even if you try to fake it or imitate someone else, it won’t last and you won’t be happy, so what’s the point ? Why can’t you imitate someone else’s style and make it work for you? Style is a unique point of view, a blend of one’s personal experiences and technical expertise, and no two people possess that special combination. Be inspired by and learn from your peers, but don’t copy them.
Consistency is also important as you develop your own style. And that takes time. As much as you can, study other photographers’ work and other art forms. Lose yourself in an art book with beautiful images or wander without agenda throughout a museum. Study the masters of both photography and painting. A constant exposure to art will inspire you to try new things. And trying something new gets you out of your comfort zone, so it is a great way to fine tune your techniques and develop your own style. Give it some time and, by all means, enjoy the process!
Learn, learn and learn some more! As long as you keep clicking that shutter, you will always be learning. But remember – the day you think you know it all, pack up your gear because you will stop growing and your love for the craft will slip away. And if you ever meet someone who says they know everything about photography, stay clear! No one does. Get together with other passionate photographers for photo walks or other projects for sharing and learning. It is so fascinating to see how 10 individuals will photograph the same thing and experience it 10 different ways!
Read and educate yourself. It is especially easy to stay informed with updated information online. Everything you need is just a Google search away! Be discerning, though, about what you read and hear – not all information is good information. Attend seminars and workshops as often as you can. Read photography magazines at the library. Listen to photography podcasts. Mentoring and teaching are great ways to reinforce your own learning as well as a way to expand your network. Yes, this all takes time, but it’s part of the deal, part of the process, and well worth it. You want to become a pro, to make a living at this? Then take the time to stay informed and keep an edge.
Photography is a beautiful, ever-evolving craft and you are very lucky to have chosen it. Trust me – you will never be bored! Whether you turn photography into a job or keep it as a hobby, your style will emerge because it is directly and constantly influenced by your life experiences and the technical expertise. Your style will develop in time, so be patient – and have fun!