As photographers we are constantly changing and growing. As we discover more about the world, we instinctively discover more about ourselves. Our tastes, likes, dislikes, wants and needs, all influence who we are as people, and who we are as people ultimately shapes who we are as photographers.
For a time, I was confused about who I was as a photographer. When I first started shooting, I would just photograph things that interested me or the things that I instinctively thought would make a good composition. Yet, if someone asked me what type of photographer I was, I had no idea and couldn’t give him or her an answer. I was stuck. I was stuck in the black hole of comparison. Trapped by other people’s images and ideas and felt as though my own vision was being drowned in a sea of bokeh circles and 50mm macro shots. When I started to become bored by my own images, I realised that something had to change.
I realised that I was paying too much attention to the crowd and not enough to my own vision and voice. Who was I shooting for? What story was I trying to tell? I had started shooting for myself in the beginning, and then somewhere along the way I got caught up in the crowd. It was time for me to go back to what was important to me.
Once I let go, I felt free again. I felt like my whole world opened up and I could start shooting for me. It was liberating. Over time, I started to pay attention to what I truly liked about photography, what gave me goose bumps when viewing other people’s photography and what gave me most satisfaction when shooting for myself. By paying attention to my own likes and dislikes, I started to gather pieces of the puzzle that pulled together my own photography style.
I have been shooting this way for a long time now and it’s what makes me happy. I am particular about what I shoot, when I shoot and how I shoot. Every image is sketched out in my mind before I shoot it and they may not all work or have meaning for others, but to me, they tell my story and share my voice.
Through photographing this way over time, my style has developed. I have a set of adjectives I use to describe my photography and I remind myself of those when I shoot. Style is never finished and can always be improved upon. It takes many years to perfect and I am always working on reaching that objective.
I do know this; to nurture style, one must have a goal. We need to figure out where we are now, where we want to be and how we can close the gap between the two. It’s a work in progress and cannot be achieved overnight. We are the creative directors of our own work and we are the only ones who can speak with our own unique voice.
Do you have a clear vision and voice that you share with others?
Please share images that you think best represent you or your style with us!
Today Amanda is giving away one spot in her Shoot By Design: Refining Your Photography Style photography e-course where she will teach you all she knows about molding your signature style, finding your own voice, share technical tips to get the best out of your camera and show you how to creates strong, passionate images. Leave a comment here before Tuesday 24th 12pm PST to win a place in the Shoot By Design Spring session, starting on March 5th!
You can find out more about Amanda’s work on her portfolio and popular blog Mocking Bird. She is also the co-author of the anticipated Instant Love: How To Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids (with Jen Altman and Susannah Conway) published by Chronicle Books.
The winner of the giveaway is Mary! Congratulations, you will receive an email from Amanda shortly.