How often have you heard this: “You SHOULD have your own style in photography in order to get recognized, make money, attract clients, etc.”. The hardest question is: how?
First of all: what is a “personal style”? In general understanding, it’s that unique touch, which will differentiate your works from the works of other artists in your field. So that people, attacked by the enormous amount of visual content could still tell that this photo is YOU, or “looks like YOU” if it’s an imitation.
First and foremost, you need to learn the craft, so that you are good enough technically to be able to translate your ideas to the world, otherwise you just won’t be taken seriously.
I don’t think artists of any type (not just photographers) can start creating anything using some particular unique style from the very beginning. First and foremost, you need to learn the craft, so that you are good enough technically to be able to translate your ideas to the world, otherwise, you just won’t be taken seriously. The good news is, while you are practicing your craft, you can find your style. It will happen naturally, so no need to overthink it.
To tell you the truth, the forming of my photography style was a rather unconscious process and in my opinion, it’s still not finished. However, I’ve discovered that in the process of finding your unique voice, it helps if you answer three important questions:
What you like and what you don’t? Visually first of all.
Getting back to photography: the works of which photographers you admire the most? (These can be also movie directors, architects, painters, illustrators, as you can definitely be inspired by all forms of visual arts.) Why? What draws you towards them? Is it light? Colors? The depth of field? Subjects? Whose works you don’t like? Why?
A handy exercise here would be to take an image that you don’t like and try to suggest edits: what would you remove from the image? What would you add? Why? When you answer those questions the things that form your visual aesthetic preferences will show up. They are core elements of your personal style.
What do you find interesting in the world around or within you?
Is it sports, reading, music? Is it global problems or is it family relationships? What concerns you the most? When you answer those questions, you’ll understand that those things will be the focus of your photography in many cases.
What message do you have for the world?
That’s a biggie. And the answer to this question might not come very easily or quickly. But while you keep practicing and answering the first two questions this understanding will gradually emerge.
It’s not possible to know if you like something or not until you try it.
Be open and try different things
To sum it up, I think that in the very beginning, when you still are not sure what type of photography you’ll be into, it’s great to try out different things and see what feels more comfortable, interesting, exciting for you. It’s not possible to know if you like something or not until you try it. When I was just starting out with photography, I seemed to like everything from street photos to newborn pictures, so I tried everything. At some point, I realised that I enjoyed and felt in line with some things more than others. This is when my style became to be visible.