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!!!!