How do you go from taking an occasional picture you’re happy with to being able to consistently take pictures you love?
The answer is style.
Style in photography means having a distinct point of view that you are able to articulate visually. Our individual point of view is what separates us from everyone else. As artists, as people. It’s what makes each of us unique. Translating how you see the world, your point of view, into a set of aesthetic choices, that right there is your style.
For some, it’s about using a specific color palette. For others it’s how they choose to edit, or post-process their images. For others still, it’s a mood they consistently capture. It could be a manner of composition, or some combination of all these elements and more.
With the best examples, you’ll know who took a picture just by looking at it.
For the rest of us, though, how do we acquire such a thing as style? How to turn what seems like sorcery into an artistic practice anyone can achieve?
I have the answers to these questions. And what I’d like to do for you, dear readers, is take the next few months to lay out how to improve your craft and build your style—how to “TAKE YOUR WORK TO THE NEXT LEVEL,” as the ads might say.
In a series of upcoming blog posts, I’ll highlight some of the techniques I use in my own photography, in the hope that it will help you improve yours.
We’ll talk about how communication (between others and with yourself) can help you articulate what you’re trying to shoot and what you’re trying to achieve. How speaking an idea aloud can not only help you take a better shot, but understand what kind of shots you want to take.
We’ll go deep on the notion of repetition as a form of practice, once you’ve locked into what kind of shot you want to take. Taking that shot again and again, until achieving it becomes second-nature.
We’ll look at the notion of constructive competition. Trying to better yourself by setting a goal, by looking at the work of others to figure out what that goal should be, and looking at your own work to see where you can improve.
And finally, we’ll talk about the most valuable tool of all: self-critique. This is where it all comes together, helping you become honest with yourself about where you are and where you want to be. Seeing, without ego, what’s working and what isn’t, and how to make the necessary adjustments.
Are these tips magic? In a way, yes! The creative process is about as magical as it gets. But is it the only way to go about things? Goodness no! There are as many ways to engage with art as there are stars in the sky. Mine is but one. I like to think it works for me, so I figured I’d share it and see if I could help a few people get the same joy from photography as I do.
In the end (and the beginning, and probably most of the middle), this series will be all about using photography to have a good time. These tips and topics will showcase fun ways to engage with the photos you take, stimulating new approaches to your craft.
Here is the Flickr gallery where I’ll be posting examples of Flickr photographers with great style. Leave your comments!