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Everyone is a photographer. We all love to use our phones, tablets, or cameras to take photos. What’s more, we all share them and publish them for the world to see. This phenomenon has changed photography and photographers.
Not so long ago you needed to have a camera to be able to take a photo, there was no other way. Before the explosion of social media sites hit the internet is was decidedly more difficult to get your pictures published.
With the rise of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the proliferation of other media sharing websites, we are seeing and sharing more and more photographs every day. Standing out in such an enormous global crowd is not easy.
So how do you create a unique photography style which does not look the same as most of what’s already out there? Because, let’s face it, so much of it is so similar (and dull.) There are tons of pictures of pets, sunsets, selfies, kids and food, food, food.
Most successful photographers concentrate on one style. This can take years to develop. Dedication and experimentation are keys to attaining a photographic look and feel that is uniquely yours and will be recognized as such. Mastering any form of creative expression does not happen easily or without a lot of practice.
You need to be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Don’t just keep photographing the same things, in the same way, that you are comfortable with already. Push yourself to do things with your camera that you’ve not experimented with before. Step out and photograph subjects you’ve wanted to but not have been bold enough to do so. You never know what you will discover by trying something different.
Don’t give up easily either. Giving up will not get you anywhere if you haven’t first shown some commitment to producing some photographs you are content with.
As a young man, I was painfully shy. I loved photography, but could never bring myself to photograph people. My sister encouraged me. She told me my photos were excellent, but really lacked the inclusion of people.
She was not so happy when she became my subject. I also started photographing friends as we hung out together and became somewhat comfortable photographing people that I knew.
Shortly after I landed a job in the photography department of a daily newspaper, I quickly realized that if I wanted to keep my job I would have to overcome my fear (yes, it was a real fear) of photographing strangers. Everything in me wanted to keep the job at the paper and to succeed as a photographer, so I pressed on and challenged myself to break through.
Now my main love in photography is taking pictures of people. Often they are people I do not know.
Most people will not face the same test to develop their photography abilities as I was confronted with. But I hope my story can inspire you to press on trying new things with your photography and to persevere in going beyond your comfort zone.
As you experiment, keep in mind that your worldview is unique. No one else sees or experiences the world quite the same way you do.
Think about how you can express this through your photography. What do you see that someone else might not? Why do you feel a certain way about the subjects you are photographing? No one else will feel just the same.
Connect with your subject, whether it’s a person, a pet, a landscape or your lunch, and photograph it with feeling. More often than not you will create a strong, more unique image than if you just take a quick snapshot.
As you seek to develop your own unique personal photography style try not to concentrate too much on your equipment. Pouring all your attention into what you’re doing with your camera will not help you connect with your subject and you will produce less dynamic photographs. No matter how technically correct your images are, they will often be rather dull if you are not connecting with your subject.
However, the more comfortable you are with your camera, and the more proficient in knowing what it’s capable of and the best settings to use will help you immensely.
Loving your camera and knowing it well, so you can use it as an integral part of your creative process, will assist you in developing your photography style. The more focused you are on trying to figure out which lens to attach and what shutter speed will be needed, the more likely you are to disconnect with your subject. The more familiar and comfortable you are with your camera the better.
Anyone who’s read my articles watched my videos or taken my workshops or online courses will know I always encourage the use of a camera in Manual Mode. Being in precise control of the equipment you are using will definitely facilitate your unique creative growth.
Using settings which give your camera control of the exposure (auto modes) will give you results like everyone else who relies on these settings. In Manual Mode you have the choice to expose your photos as you like, not always as your camera dictates.
Experiment! Take time and work with a purpose and a goal in mind. Be inspired to step beyond creating just another snapshot for your social media posts and make a point of producing strong photographs expressing your unique perspective of the world you live in.
It’s not easy to do. But press on and don’t give up. Make a start with your first ideas and keep at it. Be flexible and adapt as you develop.
At first, you might love the topic or photography style you’re working on and later find you are drawn to a something a bit different. Go with the flow, so long as you are continuing to produce photographs you are happy with and you can see a progression in what you are doing.
To learn the story behind some of these photographs please check out this video:
I’d love to know how you are developing your photography style, whether you are inspired by this article and just starting out, or if you’ve been working on your own particular style for some time. Please share your thoughts and photos in the comments section below.