WE OFTEN EQUATE QUALITY AND STYLE WITH "EQUIPMENT"
I often get questions about my style of photography, my editing process, and how I manage to capture some of my signature looks on camera. And often those questions come paired with questions about the cameras I use, the lenses I prefer, and my favorite Lightroom presets. And while I could answer those questions in immense detail, I think answering in that manner would be missing the point entirely.
BECAUSE STYLE IS ABOUT PERSONALITY, NOT GEAR.
My reasoning is this.
As photographers we all often end up using similar (if not the exact same) camera bodies, lenses, computers, software, actions/presets, and online galleries as the rest of the photographic community. We all use relatively similar equipment to photograph relatively similar types of work...and yet my photographs are distinctive from your photographs and your photographs are distinctive from someone else's. Why is this? It's because of the one thing you have that no one else can ever copy...
YOU are the unique element in your business. Anyone can copy your website code, your editing presets, your camera equipment, and can even seek out similar clientele but no one can ever copy your distinct personality. And it's exactly that – YOU and your personality – that you can and should leverage to create a personal photographic style completely distinctive and completely your own.
SO HOW DO YOU DEVELOP A UNIQUE STYLE?
Let me speak from experience here.
When I first started as a full-time photographer I made a list of the traits that I felt summarized my personality and then I found ways to integrate those traits into my photographic work. For instance, I'm very personal and relational and so the way I approach photography is very...you guessed it, personal and relational. My sessions are filled with conversation, laughter, jokes, smiles, and getting to know each other – and when you look through my photos you can clearly see a personal/relational vibe through the images.
I also love being outside in nature, exploring creation, and savoring the beauty of our world and so nearly all of my sessions are shot mostly if not completely outdoors. But this goes even further. Most of my photo sessions involve me and my clients hiking out to some beautiful location where I place them in the scene and then photograph them embedded in the nature around them – again, showcasing my personality and creating a style distinctly my own.
I could give example after example about how I've integrated my personality into my work but I think you get the point. And sure, other people can (and do) copy the way I shoot and obviously some photographers are incredibly relational with their clients as well. But my point is...no one can ever copy the distinct blend of personality traits that make me who I am. And the more I integrate my personality into my work the more distinctive I become as a photographer and the more I stand out from the crowd.
So my challenge to you is this.
Figure out what it is that makes you YOU and then unashamedly showcase that to your clients.
Everyone has a unique perspective on the world and it can be mind-numblingly discouraging to try and copy someone else's style. Instead of trying to imitate others, own the fact that you are unique and find creative ways to showcase that to the watching world. I guarantee you'll start to develop your own distinctive style and then clients that resonate with your work will start walking through the door giving you even more opportunities to refine your craft, hone your skills, and showcase who you are through the work you do.
Go get busy being you!
P.S. Wondering how to integrate something you love into your work? Leave me a comment below and I'll see if I can give you some pointers in future blogs! Cheers...