Why is discovering your photography shooting style important?
It not only helps define you as a photographer, but it also defines your business and its brand. Let’s take two comparable wedding photographers, for example. They both charge the same, have the same amount of experience, and are both talented photographers. The only difference is one shoots with an editorial-type style and the other photographer is more of a photojournalist and captures things how they happen. Both produce beautiful images, however their images are very different. The client meets with both, but which one do they choose? Who would you choose? The photographer who’s style you connect with the most. Your shooting style is one way to set yourself apart from your competition, and is ultimately part of your marketing plan.
What is the difference between a shooting style and a speciality?
If you haven’t had a chance to read my post on finding a photography specialty, this would be a good first step prior to trying to figure out your style. Simply put, shooting style is how you shoot and a specialty is what you shoot. Once you are set on what your photography specialty(ies) will be, it’s time to find and identify your shooting style.
What are some factors that define your shooting style?
Your shooting style can be determine by several factors, some of which are the following:
- Types of lenses
- Camera settings
- Camera angle
- Distance from subject
- Subject posing
There are probably more factors than I’ve listed above, but this gives you a good idea of what factors make up your shooting style. Let’s approach this another way. I’m going to give you a pretend assignment now. Go grab an apple and think about how you would photograph that apple. You can only take one frame of the apple. Which lens do you reach for first? How do you light it? Do you light it?? How close do you get? What parts of the apple do you choose to photograph? Do you use a shallow DOF or a deep DOF? Do you photograph the apple by itself, or do you put it in a setting or have someone hold it? Do you keep the photo in color or convert it to B&W? There are many ways to skin a cat and how you choose to skin that cat shows your photography style.
What if I don’t know what my photography style is?
That’s OK! The important thing is you recognize that you still have yet to discover your style. Why is this important? If you don’t know how you like to shoot, how are you going to present yourself and your business to the client effectively? There will not be a consistent theme in your photos for the client to be drawn to and want for their personal photos. You may end up attracting the wrong clients for your business. And, you won’t be true to yourself as a photographer if you don’t identify to yourself what your photography style is. Knowing what your photography style is will prevent you from seeing another photographer’s work and comparing yourself to them…or worse, attempting to copy their style.
Let’s go through some steps to help sort out your photography shooting style. I will say that if you are just starting out, this may take some time. I know for me, even though my style was always there in my photos, it took me years to recognize and identify my shooting style. Here is a list of some questions to ask yourself. If you don’t have enough direct shooting experience with the question, think about the types of photos that inspire you.
- Which lenses do you feel drawn too most of the time? Do you like a variety of lenses, or just stick with your favorite one? Do you prefer zoom or prime lenses?
- Do you like the dreaminess of a shallow depth of field, or do you prefer more of the photo to be in focus?
- Is your desired composition and camera angle more traditional, or do you like to break the rules and experiment?
- Do you prefer shooting closer to your subject or farther away?
- Do you like to use a lot of props in your photos? Or, do you prefer a more natural look?
- Do you like backlit shots? Darker lighting? Contrast? Flat or side lighting? Silhouettes? Use of off-camera lighting?
- Is your preferred location urban, park, unique, off the beaten path, barn, etc.?
- Is your editing style traditional, editorial, edgy, simple, etc.?
- Do you like to capture the details as part of a session/wedding, or do you prefer to just focus on the subject?
Getting the answers to these questions will help you to recognize and identify your style of shooting. Again, this still may take some time shooting and gaining experience, however these questions provide an excellent start to exploring what your style is.
Now that I know what my photography style is, what do I do with it?
Be true to yourself and never forget it. Your business will do better because of it. Like I mentioned above, you will also want to make it part of your brand and marketing. This will help attract the right clients for your business to your business. You can do this by highlighting photos that show your style the best, whether it’s when you blog, post a sneak peek on Facebook, or put it in your online portfolio. You want clients to hire you for the style that is your own. And, whatever you do, don’t doubt yourself when you see another photographer with a different style do better than yourself. It’s very easy to get sucked in and think, “I should do what she’s doing. She’s getting way more business.” Unless a photographer’s style is completely different from anyone else’s in the industry (which is usually not the case), there are so many other factors as to why another photographer may be busier than yourself. Since, none of us really know the true inner workings of another’s business, the best thing is to simply focus on you and your business, and what you can do to help your business grow and be successful.
What is your photography shooting style?
I prefer to be hands off and shoot with a photojournalistic style, with both weddings and portraits. I’m all about natural and minimizing the props in a photo. In my opinion, too many props can be distracting from the true beauty and personality of the subject(s). I am all about capturing emotion, whether its joy, sorrow, excitement, or just plain having a good time. My two favorite lenses are my 50mm f/1.2 and my 100mm f/2.8L macro. I mostly use the macro lens for details, obviously, but more importantly I use it to get great individual portraits. With the macro, I can get close and intimate shots and capture the fantastic catchlights in the eyes. I am all about backlighting and clean, flat lighting. Occasionally, I’ll dabble with some side lighting, however I like to stick to the flat lighting whenever possible. My editing style is like my shooting style: simple, clean, and basic!
How would I have photographed the apple? There are so many possibilities, even if you know your style. If I had to choose just one frame of the apple:
It’s not a very “pretty” apple, but it works for this example. I just placed the apple next to the window, grabbed my macro lens, opened up my aperture, and focused on the top part of the apple. Simple and straightforward, just like my shooting style. 🙂
Your photography shooting style is so important for several reasons. It helps to attract the right clients to your business. It helps to market your brand. And, it helps you be more fulfilled in your job, since you are being true to yourself. Let other photographers inspire you; don’t let them change your style.