Why You Should Find Your Own Photography Style and Not Conform to Social Media Trends

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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.

Street portrait of an Asian woman in red - Why You Should Find Your Own Photography Style and Not Conform to Social Media Trends

Go Beyond Social Media Norms

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.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Get Into a New Zone

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.

Man selling kebabs in Istanbul - Why You Should Find Your Own Photography Style and Not Conform to Social Media Trends

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.

My Story

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.

Karen woman hand sewing - Why You Should Find Your Own Photography Style and Not Conform to Social Media Trends

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.

Hmong man with one leg sitting against a wall -Why You Should Find Your Own Photography Style and Not Conform to Social Media Trends

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.

Experience and Experiment

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.

Go Beyond Your Gear

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.

Ballet dancer practicing - Why You Should Find Your Own Photography Style and Not Conform to Social Media Trends

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.

Close up portrait of a young man - Why You Should Find Your Own Photography Style and Not Conform to Social Media Trends

Have Precise Control

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.

You are Unique – Create Unique Photographs

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.

Kayan girl portrait - Why You Should Find Your Own Photography Style and Not Conform to Social Media Trends

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.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kevin Landwer-Johan is a professional photographer, photography teacher, and filmmaker with over 30 years experience. Kevin is offering DPS readers his FREE course for beginner and intermediate photographers and a 40% discount on his popular online courses “Master Your Camera - Master Your Creativity” and "Lightroom Digital Workflow." Only $29 each or $49 for both Click Here to enroll in a course. Learn more about the photography workshops Kevin and his wife run in Thailand.

  • It definitely takes confidence to do your own thing, whether it’s in photography or not. I definitely fall into the introverted photographer category, too, and while I actually love photographing people, I prefer to do it in a more candid way. If I ever have to take set-up shots, I bring a people-person with me to distract everyone and get them comfortable while I’m doing the camera stuff.

    Just as it takes courage to embrace your quirks and difference, it takes courage to develop your own style and be proud of it… but we definitely should! I love going behind the scenes – capturing those candid, un-posed moments – and until recently, I’ve thought that wasn’t really valid photography of events. Isn’t it meant to be staged shots? Smiling portraits? The right people in the right place at the right time? Really, that’s just a style of photography, not necessarily the standard. Now, I’m happy to embrace my own style and to follow my instincts because it turns out they were right all along.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience on this topic. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and it’s always good to have your own feelings backed up every now and then.

  • ernldo

    Maybe even a better idea to unplug from social media?

  • Kevin Lj

    Thanks for your comment Katie. I am happy to read that you appreciate my writing. Stepping out and trying new things and sticking with the ones you enjoy the most, regardless of popular opinion, you will surely develop a unique style of photography. Please take a look at some more of my people photos and be encouraged that it is possible as an introvert to make portraits
    http://photoworkshopsbykevinandpansa.com/galleries/kevins-gallery/
    And keep an eye on DPS on an article I will be writing soon covering this in more detail.

  • Kevin Lj

    I wouldn’t want to unplug altogether from social media, but I do think it is wise to manage how you use it and how much time and attention you devote to it.

  • Lucia

    Great article. It’s something I’ve been researching quite a lot recently so that I can put a name to my style.

  • Kevin Lj

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article Lucia. What’s you style?

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