Turning Pro ~ Part IV: Style Development and Life Long Learning

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 PersistencePeople 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!

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Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it's an obsession, almost an addiction. When I'm not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! I am also thrilled to be an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA. Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram. And listen to my Podcast!

Some Older Comments

  • EnergizedAV June 19, 2012 03:48 am

    I sense a little discouragement here. Perhaps "style" being an "intangeable" could be it. I remember a number of times in my "school photography" days, a subject would say "My picture always comes out bad." To that I say, "Well it's a good thing I'm here, you're going to get a great portrait today." Sure they think me odd, but they actually believe it and get one! So there are millions of cameras out there. Each one of us is still one in a million!

  • David June 15, 2012 04:26 am

    I would say nearly every style has been done,done and done again. I'm sure some new styles or versions of old styles will emerge. but as I see it to be able to do many styles and to know when a photo is a canidate for a certain style is the answer to this demanding new market. these days every phone has a camera that has apps that create nearly every style that was other wise done by "us" the masters. just like most things in these days a photograph's worth has been cheapened and is now disposable to a degree. we have given it all away to the point there is little market for solid monetary growth and security. this is our own doing the only ones who have made out are the camera, computer and software manufacturer . who exploit our addiction keeping us thinking we are on to something exclusive to us as artist. NOT the case. PRINTS rarely sell these days. people just dont care about quality prints they only care about how it looks on facebook looking at their 2.5 inch phone screen. once upon a time we printed and we sold and we reprinted and sold even more. now they buy the cd for a few bucks and do what they will or just pick from the thousands of photographs friends snapped with the cell phone. they dont even worry about water marks they just ignor them or poorly remove them making our work look like poop! what have we become? perhaps a dinosaur in our own time,....

  • naz June 15, 2012 02:07 am

    I see nothign wrong with posting lin ks showcasing your own site if it compliments the article and shows people what the article is talking about- Steve's site certainl;y does show a 'style' (although not one I particularly would usei n my own photograhy style) that showcases whatr the author was talkign about-

    To author- Would love to see a list of some examples of styles (such as 'grunge, dave hill look, hdr, etc etc etc, as well as suggestions for developing certain styles [like some photographers shoot to portray concepts such as decay, or urban chaos, or nature overwhelmed by construciton or some such 'artist statement' as I think a listl iek that coudl help spark some ideas for developing a style]) For instance, one photographer shoots nothign but decaying buildings in bleak looking 'natural' settings as a statement against urban development- that is his style- what he's known for- I think it would be cool to come up with a list of such ideas, concepts, and ideas for artistic statements-

  • steve marcum June 12, 2012 01:20 pm

    Again another post with self serving links, I think there are other areas of DPS that allow you to post links for others to comment on or just to share do others can see them


  • Steve June 10, 2012 06:24 pm

    It took me more than 2 years to develop a style that I was comfortable with and enjoyed. Once you have it you begin being more consistent with your photos:

    I have great fun with hdr: