How To Find Your Photographic Style

How To Find Your Photographic Style, Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

Photo Copyright Elliott Erwitt

Dear Photographers,

One of the questions I am asked often is ‘how do I find my style as a photographer’?

So let’s look first at what is a style or vision?

Photography is a personal vision. It is an individual way of looking at the world and capturing a photo that tells a story.

No two photographers see the same subject in the same way. Your particular taste and vision will set you apart from other photographers and this is your precious gift.  A photographer’s vision can be seen repeated in their photos over and over again, like a brand.

The great Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt’s trademark black and white images of dogs, street photography and portraits are infused with humour, wit and romance.  Steve McCurry another Magnum star almost works exclusively in vibrant colour with a more serious tone and if you look closely at his portraits they are always simple and engaging.

How To Find Your Photographic Style, Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

Photo Copyright Steve McCurry

Robert Doisneau exclusively used black and white and his images of Paris are romantic, sweet and always with a dash of innocence. You can almost feel the kindness of this man in his images.

The great Elliott Erwitt also has this to say about his style and his choice of subject matter. Erwitt mentions in interviews that ‘his colleagues in Magnum are generally seen as more “serious” photographers– who photograph more “serious” events.’

However Erwitt tries to not take himself too seriously: “Well, I’m not a serious photographer like most of my colleagues. That is to say, I’m serious about not being serious.”

One thing that all these photographers have in common is that you can easily recognize their work without seeing their ‘byline’ (byline is a photographer’s or a journalist’s name printed alongside their story in a magazine). Their work is their byline.

They all have their own vision, their own style of lighting, emotions they wish to portray, their own presentation of their photos, mood of their work, personality and their own special way that they communicate through their images

How To Find Your Photographic Style, Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

How I Found My Style

When I arrived in Florence in the year 2000, I didn’t have access to a huge group of friends or contacts but I did have Popi (my gorgeous landlady) and her friends. I started there, I asked to photograph them, the kids I shared the house with and the people on the streets of Florence and slowly the people I would interact with each day.

I started messing around, taking photos that I thought I wanted to take from portraits to fashion inspired photos. I followed my heart and this is where it led me. I now realise the values I held dear and subjects that were in my subconscious at the time came through.

LOVE AND EMOTIONS

Love and lack of it in the previous years had been a big theme for me and when I arrived in Italy it seemed like I was surrounded by it. Photography has always been about the emotions for me. Capturing all those outwardly expressed emotions in Italy came naturally. I couldn’t believe the amount of public displays of affection and I think it was also a reflection of the highly emotional state I felt after leaving my life in Sydney to find something I loved – photography.

A lot of what we shoot as photographers is about how WE FEEL.

MOVEMENT

I had been trapped in an office for the best part of my adult life and movement felt like the opposite to me, it represented life, action and adventure. I was obsessed with movement of all kinds including families on vespas, people of all ages riding bikes in Florence or driving strange little vehicles in the Italian countryside. Movement has become part of my style as I am always attracted to it no matter whether it is vespas, cars or people. I love blur and the emotions that come with movement in a photo.

How To Find Your Photographic Style, Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

RELIGIOUS ICONOGRAPHY

My obsession with religious iconography had to do with my lack of religious grounding in Australia and arriving to the overload and beauty of religious iconography in Italy. I was a magnet to a Madonna! I was obsessed with every tabernacle on a street corner, statues of Madonna’s in churches and religious art and just kept shooting them. I never asked why or what I would do with them but I think it comes back to my instinct.

I was attracted to the emotion they portrayed and just went with it.

ELEGANCE

I have always loved fashion and had long been a lover of fashion magazines and beautiful clothes. This love flowed over into photography even though I was shooting travel and life photos in the beginning it was often reflected.

I loved the innate elegance of Italians and would stop well-dressed people in the street and ask if I could take a photo. If I had the choice I would seek out someone dressed at the market in a certain way or with the right apron and boots. Clothes have always been a big deal for me and they are still are a big part of how I love to shoot. They really help make an image stronger.

Confession: I have ‘tweaked’ or created photos from the beginning, dressing friends and even Francesco on holidays to go out and take a photo that I wanted or felt would express something.

How To Find Your Photographic Style, Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

HUMOUR

I love things that make me laugh in life and even more when I can capture it in a photo. I think this comes back to who we are as photographers, often what we shoot is how WE FEEL OR THINK. IT IS OFTEN ABOUT US.

BLACK AND WHITE

I shot and printed almost exclusively in black and white in the early years and as I didn’t have an end use at the time for my images, I did what pleased me. Black and white became a huge part of my style and in the early years I loved shooting at night and would always end up with half a roll of film in my camera the day afterwards and go out and shoot in daylight – hence I always had a lot of grain in my images – all by accident.

SUBJECTS

There is a certain romance, nostalgia and love of all things old and falling apart in my style (except for people). You will probably notice in most of my travel images there is rarely a modern building or a clean hard edged interior, you are more likely to find a building or street with an ancient story or full of life, walls with peeling paint and faded colours. This was and is a reflection of my love for Europe and its stories and layers.. just like life.

I love authenticity and textures.

How To Find Your Photographic Style, Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

How To Find Your Style

Your style will have a great value in the future.

  1. Don’t be in hurry to develop your ‘style’. It will come naturally if you take the photos that you love and from the heart. Try not to be too influenced by everyone around you.
  2. Ask yourself what are your values, what is important to you?
  3. Keep shooting the photos you want to take and listen to your inner voice. Don’t ask why
  4. Ask yourself what is it you want to say in your images?
  5. With time your style will come without you even realising it. You may find using a particular camera, a particular lighting setup, a post production process, a lens, injecting energy and emotions or using a certain depth of field may create an effect you like and your natural style will develop.
  6. The post production choices that you make to present your photos is also a big contributor to your style, whether you choose to use high contrast black and white, punchy colour, faded vintage colours or low contrast sepia images all becomes part of your photographic look.

Music portrait photographer Anton Corbijn found his style by accident. He decided against using a flash or a tripod when shooting his portraits — he claims that he’s never been good with the technical stuff — and because of that he developed an instantly recognizable style using high speed grainy film early on.

How To Find Your Photographic Style, Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

Your handicap is your strongest asset,” he explains. “I made it work for myself, and then somehow that becomes how you take pictures, which is different to a lot of people. I mean, you always strive for the perfect thing, but then life gets in the way. A lot of my better pictures have slight imperfections… I look back at the old pictures, and I made so many mistakes.

I hope this helps you on your path to finding your style and personal vision.

“But I tell you, for me, each photographer brings his own light from when he was a kid, in this fraction of a second when you freeze reality, you also freeze all this background. You materialize who you are.” Sebastiao Salgado

signature

 

 

Check out my Portrait Lightroom Presets.

Related Post: How My Greatest Weakness Became My Biggest Strength

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
8 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kristin Cosgrove
4 years ago

I find the advice to make your handicap work for yourself very reassuring! I am also not too up with the technical stuff, though I love to point and shoot and hope this brings an informality to my pictures. Thank you for this helpful post Carla x

Corinne
4 years ago

Oh I loved this post so much Carla. Thank you so much for sharing.
This is constantly something I think about and worry as never know where I “fit” in style but I know what I love the look of in my images so this helps with confidence to keep to going!
Thank you!

Christina Fylypenko
Christina Fylypenko
4 years ago

Wonderful post, thank you! So many people struggle with “adopting” someone else’s style, but it isn’t easy because it is not who they really are. Best to listen to your inner self. I am glad I read this as it’s been on my mind for so long, but it didn’t quite put the puzzle together, until now! 🙂

Miroslav Hristoff
4 years ago

Well said! I buy my first camera 2 years ago and I had no patience to start shooting masterpieces back then 😀
Now, 2 years I realized I need more time and more and more shooting to find my style. Who knows, may be I’ll need at least 2 more years? But the journey is important not the end of the road 🙂

P.S.
It’s funny two days ago I was looking and admiring at Elliott Erwitt images and I was thinking how fresh and alive they look and now I see them in your post 🙂