Part 2- Why You Must Find Your Style
Style is your calling card in the photography world. Your work is what you will get hired for and when you have a consistent style, potential clients will start to recognize it as yours. I remember when I was focused on weddings client meetings always started with “Can I see some examples of your work?” and what I found out that means is “What is your style?”. The next question let me know right away if they liked what I did; “we really like _______ style. Can you do that?” If I got this question, I likely wasn’t the photographer they wanted because my style wasn’t what they were looking for.
Early on in my journey I didn’t know what my style was, I just knew what I liked to shoot. (Read more about my journey in part 1 of this series) Then in college I started to become a little more self-aware of my style, but didn’t want to pigeon hole my work. Upon entering the workforce, I started to understand my style more, but didn’t know how to fit it into the genre I was working- the studio. All of this not knowing led to frustration and a lack of focus. I tried to fit in different genres and build different businesses, but nothing was successful like I expected. I didn’t understand whom I was as a photographer or what my style was well enough, and that transferred over to my clients not knowing.
Importance of Knowing Your Style
Style is not the content that we shoot, but how we shoot it. The content that you shoot can change, but your style should have some consistency. Your style is your calling card. We can see an Ansel Adams or an Annie Leibovitz, Henri Cartier Bresson, Dorthea Lange, or a Gordan Parks all based on their style. Their pictures are unique to them and are saturated with their style of shooting. You must have a style so that your images are identifiable as your work.
As a photographer your work must make sense to your clients. To whom are you marketing? Does your style fit this market?
Finally, you need to know your style to maximize your strengths and address your weaknesses. At a wedding I know I am not comfortable with people right away, so I work the room looking for the details first. As the wedding progresses I have become more comfortable. Then I can more comfortably engage with the guests and wedding party.
The Evolving Style
Knowing your style leads to consistency, which leads to more work. Clients want to know what they are getting, so you have to be consistent with your work. Consistent, however does not mean stagnant. You can’t keep doing color splash, lens flair, or even HDR if the market is no longer looking for those trends.
Evolution is crucial to your longevity. Don’t plan on making today’s trends last until your retirement. You must be aware of the changes in trends. Knowing your style and adjusting it to fit the modern market is a must. The evolution process is continuous. You have to always be consuming what is new and trending, react quickly, and adjust.