Have You Thought About Your Desired Style?

Creating a recognizable style involves distinctive photography. A photographer who wants to develop their own sense of style must broaden their ability to see the image before they shoot it.

The choices you make about what you shoot and how you shoot it will affect your style. These choices are commonly a reflection of your personality and priorities (sometimes sub conscious priorities).

To develop your own sense of style, you must:
  • Be skilled with handling your camera and photographic equipment
  • Learn how to sense the way different types of film will respond to different colours and different situations (eg. haze, back light, side light, reflected light etc).
  • Understand and respond to how light and colour can impact the picture.
  • Recognise and understand how certain scenes and subjects can usually be reflected in a photo
  • Understand that how the photographer actually ‘sees’ the scene determines the quality and style of the picture.
  • Use personal expression to select and arrange the subject matter
  • Be able to interpret a picture. How you interpret a picture using photographic techniques will determine style.
  • Understanding basic design principles and analyzing impressive photographs can assist in the development of your own personal style.

Think about photographers or artists whose work is instantly identifiable. What is it about their work that screams their name?

 Study and analyse their work to see what their unique style is and how they permeate it through all their work.

The following things will significantly affect the success you are able to achieve in developing a personal style in photography:
  • The things you select to photograph.
  • The way you compose your photograph.(i.e. the way you arrange the things you select, and what parts of the subject matter are highlighted, in focus, in the foreground, excluded, the way they are lit etc.
  • The content of the picture influences the style.
  • The approach used to photograph something, influences the style. Different approaches to the same subject will produce different styles.
  • Just because a subject is unusual or rare doesn't mean the photo will be unusual or rare. The uniqueness of the photo depends on the way the subject is photographed as much as it does on what the photograph is itself.
  • Visual impact depends on the way composition, form, colour, action, etc. are ‘seen’ in the finished photograph.
  • Style is how you interpret the subject matter of a particular photograph, through that photograph, by using the various photographic techniques available to you.

Certain points in a feature’s composition seem to automatically attract the viewer’s attention, this seems to have been understood by the ancient Greeks who used the Golden Ratio in art and architecture; we do not know if this was by calculation or just that it was pleasing to the eye, it continued via the Egyptians, Babylonians, through many artists and architects, including Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador Dali.

Imagine a picture divided into nine parts with four lines; 2 vertical and 2 horizontal – these parts are not all equal. Each line is drawn so that the width of the resulting small side of the rectangle produced relates to that of the rectangle’s long side exactly as the width of the whole image relates to the width of the long side of the created rectangle. Points where the lines intersect are the "golden" points of the picture.  The mathematics relating to Golden Ratio are beyond this study but the Golden Ratio spawns relationships in many areas of design and art.

Linear elements, such as roads, waterways, and fences placed diagonally, are generally perceived as more dynamic than horizontally placed ones:

Warm colours dominate
Give due consideration to the power of colour; red objects for instance draw attention more than dull colours. (A red object can appear more prominent and closer than it really is).

It is often possible to use features to create a frame through which the subject is viewed; it doesn’t have to be an entire frame, it could just be an overhanging branch which fills the top of the picture or the edge of a building along the side of the image.  Or, it might be an entire doorway or window. It can add depth and context to a shot and hold your attention towards the true subject.  There is a balancing act to be performed to ensure the frame does not overpower the subject; ensure you focus on the main subject, it is a good idea to use a small aperture to achieve a high depth-of-field.  

If the horizon is placed low on a photo, it creates a feeling of spaciousness.  If high in the frame it creates a more confined feeling

Avoid distractions and clutter which take the attention away from the subject.  If it’s not necessary for the picture then why not take it out.  Subdue things that are not important and make them much less interesting than the important features in the frame.  

The consistency of a surface can be of interest in a picture.  Light objects with a distinctive surface in such a way to exaggerate its appearance; this usually means lighting across the surface to emphasise the contours of the pattern with highlight and shadow.  Images of strong textures create a desire to touch what's in the picture.  

The time of day you take a photo can affect the result dramatically, a sunrise or sunset can be a spectacular event which last just a few moments and creates unexpected exciting lighting effects.  
The low angle of sunlight in the very early morning or late afternoon are often (but not always) the best times to find exciting natural lighting.  Try to plan and consider where shadows and highlights might be in the location you are taking a photograph. Shadows might be better at one end of the day than at the other.  And, always be ready for the unexpected lighting around dawn and dusk, what might appear to be the onset of a spectacular sky can suddenly turn into an anticlimax and sometimes the failing light can give rise to a magnificent final few seconds of daylight.