How to find your personal photographic style

If you are passionate about photography, you have probably already recognized the author of a photo by identifying his work by his photographic style. As it happens much more easily in painting, where it is quite common to recognize a work by Dali or Picasso, the same happens with the contemplative landscapes of Michael Kenna or the architectural elements of Bernd and Hilla Becher.

Finding your own personal style in photography is actually not easy . It is exactly like one of those things that the more you look for, the less you can find them, only to appear when you think about it less. But you can learn to recognize and develop your own work and that of other photographers.

Michael Kenna, landscape in black and white.

What is the photographic style?

The photographic style is a personal way of doing photography , it is the one that differentiates the photos of two different artists and also the one that binds all the images of the same photographer as if they had something in common. Style is what helps you to recognize the author of a photograph by looking at it only , even if in this it helps a lot to know in depth the work of an artist.

The photographic style reflects many aspects of photography. What you photograph, how you photograph it and how you frame the subject are part of the development of your personal style. It is an artistic style that is the combination of many things: your personal tastes, the photographic technique, the composition of the image, the themes and the photographic genre, the equipment used, the choices made in post-production, the use of light, of the artistic influences you have had.

Architectures by Bernd and Hilla Becher.
The combination of these and other elements allows you to create a unique style, different from the others. This takes time, a lot of practice and trial, but it will later become something natural to handle. The important thing to recognize a photographic style is to learn to see the relationship that the artist has with photography , to find out what drives us to make certain images and why she works that way. Even without reaching such a deep knowledge, we can identify a personal style with a purely aesthetic aspect.

Express yourself freely without looking for something

To be able to find the one that most identifies you, you should first of all know what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. To find your personal photographic style you need to take tons of photographs, try out different types of post-production jobs, practice different techniques or even invent your own. And of course also making mistakes.

Arigliano (Lecce), photo by Nicola Montinari.

All these things will mark your photographic journey and give you enough experience to decide what to get from your images and how to achieve it. He doesn’t get up one morning saying: “my photos will look like this!” It will all be part of your personal evolution in which you will discover something in common that connects, more or less visibly, your photos over time. For those you will do in the future you won’t even have to think about this bond, it will be a natural way to express yourself through images.

5 tips for developing a photographic style

Ask yourself who you are and what you like . Be honest with yourself, even your tastes outside the photographic field influence the way you photograph and look at the things around you. Knowing who you are, what your relationship with photography is, what your knowledge and experience are, combine together the best starting point to build your own photographic style.

Don’t worry if sometimes you can’t get what you want, because you don’t have enough technical knowledge to make it: that will be part of your natural evolution, not just photographic. Try to experience your art in a unique way, photography is an enormously versatile art form.

Leuca (Lecce), photo by Nicola Montinari.

Study other photographers . To constantly improve the wealth of experiences and inspirations, the best way is to get to know other photographers, their biographies and their works. Not only the most famous and important ones, even the contemporary ones that try to emerge in the many exhibitions that are in every place, even those that make their way on social networks and conquer followers .

It is important to follow the work of others, not to copy the style or type of images, but to have the right inspirations that can also influence our works. Like when they told you at school that the best way to write well and write better is to read a lot.

Join other photography enthusiasts . It is very rewarding to talk to other people who share your passion, you probably already do it with football or with music, why not do it with photography too? Talking with people who have a different perspective than yours can be a great experience to develop a photographic style and undoubtedly also to improve your social life.

Leuca (Lecce), photo by Nicola Montinari.

Communicating with photographer friends or simply lovers of photography can help you improve the idea of ​​what you would like to do. It is very likely that they have different interests and needs, but this can be a motivation to try something different together and confront each other. Anyway, I assure you that it’s fun to surround yourself with people to talk about what you like, that’s why I constantly hang out with friends of the photographic group Zero Diaphragm in Lecce with whom I share a passion for photography.

Move by projects . An easy way to work and improve as a photographer is to develop projects. These may be personal projects or projects that are commissioned to you by someone, but in any case this allows you to develop an idea over a period of time, which is much easier to make yourself recognizable in a general sense.

After a couple of projects we will find our way of working, we will know better what we like to do and what we find complicated, how we prefer to shoot and in which photographic genre we know how to express ourselves best. This practice also helps us to find a personal style, because sometimes passion is not enough and we may discover that we are not good at something.

Criticize and let yourself be criticized . We must learn to distinguish between constructive criticism and destructive criticism : no one can tell you not to be a photographer and let it go, do it if that’s what you like. Constructive criticism, however, must be accepted, even if this depends above all on personal attitude and the reaction on what we call character . Accept what others tell you, without being disheartened if an image does not find the response you expected.

Landscape by Nicola Montinari.

In particular, don’t give too much importance to likes on social networks. They do not indicate anything and you cannot base the development of your photographic style on the tastes of people on the Internet and on how much they identify with your photographs. That is an identity that depends only on you, your camera and what / how you get it.

Don’t be in a hurry, developing a personal photographic style requires much more than just wanting to have one you can identify with.

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