Your personal style, your unique way of seeing things cannot be forced but will instead reveal itself after thousands of frames have been taken.
Personal style means defining your own way of shooting. It’s a combination of what you focus your camera on, your history and the intellectual baggage you carry and the techniques you use—from the tools you choose to how you use them.
The work reflects your unique perspective, often referred to as style. The mystery of and obsession for harnessing your personal photographic style is not so mysterious, as longtime wildlife and bird photographer Scott Bourne explains:
“What is a photographic style? For me, it’s simply a consistent way of seeing that ties directly to who I am, what I like, and what I want to express about myself and my feelings. It is not simply shooting the same subject over and over. It’s how you shoot that subject that defines your style. Your style should fit your personality. I have a big personality. Consequently, I tend to go for the big, bold photos with lots of pop and enthusiasm.” Scott Bourne
We all borrow from the photographers we admire, but after a volume of work, we leave their path and carve out a new one of our own. When you see a group of photographers all shooting from the same vantage point, shoot quick and then run the other way and find your own camera position.
In previous posts I asked you what you must photograph, and you’ve hopefully found a project or a theme you can work on, which will go a long way to developing and showcasing a style all your own.
Let others talk about your style; you just keep shooting. Gregory Heisler is one of the most articulate photographers I have ever met, not to mention a master of portraits and lighting.
“I can have aspirations or ambitions or ideas or goals for my work, but in a sense, the only purpose those goals serve is to get me to take the pictures and only through the taking of the pictures will I find out who I am or what my pictures look like. In the end, oftentimes the pictures that I think I’m going to take aren’t the pictures I take and the direction I’m headed isn’t the direction I think I’m headed.”