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Defining Your Style

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on a specific DAY or at ONE specific shoot.  As much as I WISHED for an overnight success, it didn’t happen that way for me. My first 8 months in business I felt like I was wandering.  I saw images that I loved and STYLES that I wanted to emulate but I just didn’t know how to get there. Gradually, over the course of a few weddings and several engagement sessions… it started to CLICK! I started to realize that my work was evolving into a STYLE. What do I mean by a “Style”?  Well, most photographers have a style of their own.  It’s a  consistent pattern of shooting and editing styles that make him or her unique.

 

That’s not Webster’s definition but that’s how I would explain it.  Styles set photographers apart from one another.   For example, I would love NEVER see a Jerry Ghionis shot and mistake it for Jose Villa.  I would never mistake one of Jasmine’s portraits for Zach and Jody’s work.  These photographers have a defined STYLE to their work that has not only allowed them to create a market for themselves, it’s also helped them BRAND their business!

 

So how do you get there? Oh how  I wish I could send you an “Easy” button for this! The reality is that style comes from PRACTICE and EXPERIENCE. And I don’t think that you find “your style” and it never changes.  I would like to believe that I’m enhancing my style every time I shoot!! I’m constantly learning new things and applying them to my style. So this is an on-going process that never officially ends…but I do think that photographers find their SWEEET SPOT!  That’s when they realize… “Ok, THIS is me!…. This is MY STYLE!”.  For me, this was in 2009.

 

Someone said to me “When I see wedding pictures on facebook, I can just tell they’re your work, without even seeing your logo!”.   This simple comment meant SO MUCH to me! For a photographer, that is one amazing compliment because defining a STYLE is HARD WORK!! My goal was to produce images that have a similar “look” to all of them! BRIGHT, CRISP, COLORFUL, GENUINE… I wanted all of these adjectives to describe my work!

 

So how did I get there?  Here is the BEST advice I can offer:

Create a folder on your desktop or anywhere that is easily accessible and title it “MY STYLE”.  Every time you shoot and process an image that you absolutely ADORE… stick it in that folder.  Even when you’re first starting, everyone has at least ONE money shot that they are so proud of! So gradually, as you continue shooting,  keep growing this folder of favorites and EXAMINE them.  If you LOVE an image, find out what you love about it. Was it the light? Was it the depth of field? Was is the composition or the posing? What makes you DRAWN to this shot and how can you replicate it?!  Eventually, your images that you’re shooting will start to incorporate ALL of the characteristics of the images in your “Style Folder”.  Basically, pay attention to what images make you fall more in love with your job and  find out why you love them so much!

 

 

This was the FIRST image in my “MY STYLE” folder! I loved the color, the depth of field, the crispness and the emotion!

 

 

So I took what I loved from that previous photo and I tried to replicate it over and over again in different situations! That first photo was taken in 2009 and this shot was taken last weekend.  Much improved but the qualities that I loved originally are still the same!
 

 

Now here are some examples from our shoot with Jodi and Kurt! They shot some portraits of us and I shot some of them! I want to share this because this PROVES that you can be unique and have a specific style even when you’re shooting with the exact same CAMERA, LENS, and LIGHT as another photographer!! Here are MY images from the shoot:

 

 

And here are their beautiful images from the shoot! Notice the HUGE difference in these shots from my shots. They just have such a different “look” and I love it!! Jodi and Kurt approach posing and editng so differently from me and that’s awesome! They have a more romantic, soft style and they even direct portraits in a more romantic, soft spoken way! Their personalities MATCH the style of their work! Now for me, I’m a little bit LOUD at times… a little TOO energetic every now and then and my images showcase that energy… or at least I think they do! ha! You guys can tell me if I’m wrong!  So take a look at their images and notice how UNIQUE our styles are, despite the fact that we were shooting with the same equipment AND the same lighting!! 

And let me just add that no style is BETTER than another. Everyone has preferences and opinions of their own and that’s ok!  I actually  think it’s a GREAT idea for photographers to have some portraits done with another photographer that has a very different style from them!! These shots from Jodi and Kurt aren’t MY STYLE but I love them! I literally just printed a TON of these  images and they’re hanging in our kitchen!! 

And of course I had to end with a Bokeh shot!! Speaking of Bokeh Boy! These portraits were featured on The Daily Dog Tag today! !! My boy is famous!!!!

 
xoxo, Katelyn
10 Comments Ask Anything, Education
  1. Ahna Beth Photography reply

    This is awesome! Thanks for all of your advice & encouragement, Katelyn! :)

  2. jamie reply

    love this article! thank you! so very true about each person finding their own style–it is a process to be explored. thank you for sharing!

  3. Bethany Aleshire reply

    Thank you Katelyn!! I was JUST spending my morning googling “what’s my style” in relation to me & photography. Oh the timing! Anyways, thank you for this post!!!!

  4. Danielle Coons reply

    Love this entry!! This is a topic I’ve been thinking SO much about lately. When I look back at my past 9 months of shooting/editing I realize it looks like everyone else – – and not so much like me. Thank you so much for the encouragement and comfort of knowing I’ll find it one day :)

  5. JasmineStar reply

    SUCH a great post! Killer insight and great advice…Mwah!

  6. McCall Doyle reply

    I blogged about this yesterday! :) It was really amazing to see the difference in point of view and editing style in the comparison photos from you/Michael vs Jodi/Kurt. It shows photographers (esp. newbies like me) how versatile one can be.

  7. Rachel Leigh Greene reply

    Sooo true!! :D

  8. Shalese reply

    Thank you for inspiring me to work harder :)

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