What differentiates snapshots from the kind of photography that really holds the eye? A lot of the difference is found in the individual photographer’s style. A well-developed style can give artistry to any subject, and part of the joy of an artistic style is in developing it. This comes from photographing for your own enjoyment and allowing your style to develop on its own, especially early on when you are learning about photography.
The key to understanding how personal photo style develops is in knowing that most photographers are not able to conceptualize what their personal photo style will be before it takes root on its own. In this way, personal photo style is not something that can be learned or forced, but is rather an outgrowth of practice, experience, and experiments. If you recognize this early on, you can give yourself the freedom to enjoy the journey. As you review your photos, you will start to find common links as your personal photo style develops.
Personal photo styles are a combination of aesthetic elements that work together to distinguish one photographer’s work from another’s. The way that photographers use these elements is a product of how they have learned as much as what they have learned. Part of this is book learning and part is learning from experience. A surprising number of professional photographers are entirely self-taught, showing that a love of photography is more important than a love of taking photography courses!
As you continue to learn about light, lenses, aperture, and all of the other parts that make photography an art as well as a science, experiment to test your understanding. It is okay if experimenting does not always work the way that you planned; trying new things can lead to interesting and artistic results.
In some cases, a photo style is ground-breaking and entirely unique to the point where it influences the work of photographers who follow. If you have ever used programs or apps like Photoshop and Picasa to edit your photos, you might know that the names of a few of the filters Orton, Atkins, Rayogram are based on photographers who pioneered new photographic methods or styles.
However, though these artists had a definitive style, few restricted themselves to a definitive subject. It is in this way that a personal photo style still leaves the photographer room to explore and push the boundaries, free of restrictions on what is or is not a great photograph. This is a great part of the joy of photography, and one that photographers at any stage should take to heart. By doing so, you can give your photography the freedom that will help you develop a personal photo style while taking exceptional photos wherever your lens takes you.