Oh boy the one thing I think every photographer can relate to is the identity crisis with finding the right style. Your style is such a personal aspect of your photographs and business. For starters, style is often linked to what kind of “look”/ “feel” your images have. This could mean bright and airy, dark and moody, warm and candid, the list goes on forever.
As you are figuring out your style I encourage you to at least dip your toes in different “looks” to see what fuels you. As you are figuring it out, stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Just because someone succeeds with one style doesn’t mean that’s the right “style” for you to go with. When I started I felt that I was obligated to lean towards a bright and airy style because I thought it was in demand in my area. Although it it is beautiful, I wasn’t taking images that way because I genuinely wanted to. I was doing it because “everyone else was”.
When I did that and seemed to go no where, I saw 0 results in my business. It got to the point that I would literally ask clients, ” Hey do you like this look or this look better”. That was me just trying to please everyone. Everyone isn’t and shouldn’t have been my target audience. I wasn’t happy with my own work, I was constantly comparing myself. It got to a point where I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own work anymore. I was letting everyone else decide how I was going to run my business.
I can relate because..
It wasn’t til I started trying out different styles that I saw an improvement in my business in terms of my identity. What I liked that would be my niche. Then I realized I wanted to capture emotion, that I wanted to be able to feel and image. I also realized that I wanted something a little more earthy and warm. Now, if I hadn’t dabbled around I might have not found that out. Style doesn’t just have to be the looks of an image it can also be the way you want people to feel when they look at a picture you took. Looking back at it I don’t know why I expected people to like the images that I didn’t even like.
Here are my tips that may help you get one step closer to figuring out your style, but before I do let me share my journey of progress of images with you. Now, there is some in between, moments where I got moody and dark and times when I had a very neon look!
1. Comparison vs inspiration
When you are figuring out what direction you want to go in it’s not a bad thing to look at other people’s work. In fact I encourage you to see all the styles out there, but as you do that see what images that you see yourself taking. Then from there start exploring! What I mean by comparison vs inspiration is knowing the difference.
Comparison is not the one you want to lean towards. I would recommend to look at other people’s work, but don’t let what they do guide you in your own business. Being inspired by someone else is the BEST. This is when you can get your creative juices flowing and not be copying someone else! Don’t be afraid to change your style around til you find one that you think you will want to stick with. It is OK to change it up, it’s all part of a process to producing images you are proud of.
I said it was OK to change it up. I dare you to try it! Now, I don’t mean revamping your website every month with a new style ( I am so guilty.. my poor clients). But on the off season or for fun on the side try the different things out. I accidentally stumbled upon my current style as I was trying out an artistic dark and moody look. That lasted like three weeks in the off season, but I am glad it happened. If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t have realized the reason I love the kind of images I take. Those styles were no where near similar in looks, yet I loved the way I felt when I took the pictures. I felt excited before I would edit them!
3. Choose a style that fuels
When I say chose a style that fuels, I mean one that makes you squeal when you are editing in Lightroom. I want you to create images because YOU want to. If you aren’t happy with your images it shows right through.
Presets saved my business, but I didn’t discover them til late in the game. SO if you didn’t know; presets are pre-determined settings within Lightroom that will provide consistency throughout your images. Not only will you start to see consistency, it also saves SOOOO much time! I used to edit each image individually, and hope it looked like the image I just edited. Now, with presets you just basically copy and paste it on each image!
There are two options you have, creating your own presets or buying them. I personally have spent $300 on different presets. The reason I spent that is because I have bought all different kinds of presets from light and airy, to dark and moody, to the one I use today. The reason I brought up presets is because that’s how I found my style. I kept playing with all the different looks to find one that felt like me. Presets that I bought taught me about all the looks but also that I could personalize it more and more so it that it felt like me.
Some of presets that I have seen for all styles are:
light and airy : http://lightandairyphotog.com/
Film artsy neutral look: https://bensasso.com/presets/
You can also find a ton on etsy! ( The preset I use know is one that was 11 dollars on etsy, but I have since then have customized it over the past few years!)