Don’t Compare Yourself
Have you ever looked at a photo on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest and felt a twinge of envy? We are saturated with images from every direction ALL day long, and it’s easy to begin to compare your photography style to others and even easier to let their photos start to define your style. You see a picture, and you try desperately to duplicate that image. But it’s not long before frustration kicks in. Are you nodding your head? Why do you get frustrated? Because there is NO way, absolutely none, that you can duplicate someone else’s photograph.
I say it all of the time… Photography is a form of art, and being able to duplicate someone’s photo is as difficult as it is to duplicate someone’s painting. And what’s more…why would you want to? You want to find your own photography style.
You want to define your photography style, not duplicate someone else’s. There are ways to define your style, but you’re going to have to face some truths, but let’s talk about the different photography styles before we do that.
Types of Photography
There are many photography styles, and I won’t be able to cover all of them here, so I am just going to talk about a few.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It can be posed or unposed, but the main goal is to create images that will stand the test of time and show the relationship between those that you are shooting.
With candid photography, you are literally blending into the background and telling the story of what is happening. This type of photography is unscripted, unplanned, and unposed.
This type of photography is intended to capture the first few months of a subject’s life, often including the birth.
Pretty self-explanatory. Wedding photographers capture all of the events of the special day. The emotions and relationships between people are essential in wedding photography.
Portrait photography captures people’s expressions and features.
Let’s Talk Truths…
You want to be honest with yourself. I knew early on that I did not want to be a wedding photographer. Oh, I’ll admit it, when I see those jaw-dropping wedding shots, I do get tempted, but then I listen to that little voice in my head, and I am brought back to “my” reality and I know it’s not my photography style.
So, the first “truth” is to define the type of photography that you want to focus on. Again, think of photography as art. You aren’t going to buy a painting from an artist that is a modern/impressionist/realist/still life/contemporary/abstract artist. You are going to buy a still life painting from an artist specializing in still life paintings. You need to begin to think of yourself as an artist and own your style! Now, that’s not to say you can’t choose a few, but niching down and perfecting that one or two types will help you be a better photographer. I guarantee you that most wedding photographers aren’t newborn photographers and vice versa.
The next thing you need to do NOW is to stop comparing yourself to everyone else. It is perfectly okay to look at someone’s photo and think, “Wow, I love …” or ” I like the way they did…” but STOP wishing your photos looked like theirs! If you follow people on social media whose images constantly make you feel inferior, stop following them, at least until you become confidant in your photography.
That’s not to say that you can’t choose little things that someone does in their photography to imitate. Do you like the light and airy aspect of someone’s photos…okay, shoot light and airy. Do you like how someone creates bokeh in their shots? Then, by all means, create bokeh…imitation is the highest form of flattery. Copying isn’t.
The third hard truth that I am going to talk about is learning the rules of photography! Do not let lousy techniques define your style because the hard truth is it’s not your style. It’s just bad technique. Chopping off people’s limbs isn’t a technique, incorrect white balance isn’t a technique, and bad, just bad shadows on your subject is not a technique. The sooner you learn the photography rules, the sooner you will begin to define yourself as an artist. If you are interested in the rules and how to take the photos you know you are capable of, check out my Beginners Photography Essentials programs!
I remember I went through a stage where I would accept any photography job that came my way. I was busier than I had ever been, but I was hating what I was doing. Why? Because I want’ being true to myself or my photography style. I was shooting in a way that brought me no joy whatsoever, and I wasn’t true to myself.
Be true to yourself. This may be one of the most brutal truths that I will throw at you today, but to become the photographer that you want to be, you have to do this. I want you to start to look at the images you see daily and see what really speaks to you. Look through magazines, social media, your own photos and keep notes on what you really like, and…what you don’t like, but be honest! You have an artistic voice. You have to listen to it, which will be the hardest thing to do on this journey.
The last truth that I’m going to give you today is…Finding your photographic style takes time and effort. Just like finding your decorating style for your home or fashion style, finding your photography style takes time and practice. You need to shoot every single day, and you need to shoot intentionally. You need to listen to your heart when your shooting. If it’s not speaking to you, don’t do it. And again, you need to know the rules of photography so that you can break them. The Beginners Photography Essentials will help you learn them in no time to get on your way to discovering your style.
It is scary, but I promise if you follow these steps and are true to yourself, you will find a freedom and confidence in your photography, and you will be amazed at how people flock to you and your work. If you have any questions, want support, or just want to show off your photos, come join us in my Facebook Group-Learn Photography with Dena! I hope to see you there.