What is a personal style?
Dictionary.com defines style as; a particular kind, sort, or type, as with reference to form, appearance, or character. Personal is defined as; of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private. There are “mainstream” styles, “trendy” styles, and the “personal” styles. A personal style would then be a style is related to an individual.
I’ve read for years about developing a personal style.
Just “Google” something like “What is a personal photographic style” and you can come up with something like 960,000,000 results. It seems like everyone has thoughts on what is and how to achieve a personal photographic style.
So I read a few blogs and books on the topic. I ended up being more confused than before I began to try to develop my “personal style”. It was almost overwhelming with the bit and pieces of advice and the “how to”, “wherefore”, etc.
So many of these places made it sound like something you that could be done like a recipe for making cookies. Add a little of this and that, stir well. Do this, do that, bake for 10 minutes and you’re done. It’s not like that and in fact it is both easier and harder.
At this point I gave up a bit, well not really I just put this thought on a back burner so to speak.
How do I develop my own style?
I’m not going to give you a recipe. Developing a personal style isn’t like that in my opinion. A personal style is well a personal thing. Find they things you like, that you feel passionate about. Find the perspective you like, find the equipment you like, find the processing you like. Do you want to blend into the crowd or stand out from the crowd. Do you just want to be the Jack Webb “Sgt. Joe Friday” type (if you aren’t familiar with Dragnet Sgt. Joe Friday was a “just the facts” type)? This doesn’t mean you have to blaze a new trail and devise methods never before used. Find styles you like and customize them to what you like.
If you are like me, you like many different subjects and looks. I don’t just have a single personal style. My personal style depends on what story I’m wanting to tell and my subject matter.
I can hear some of you now. That’s what I like, I just want to show the ‘facts’ (the scene as it looked). Well here is my question for you. Is there any way to keep your personal beliefs out of something? I know, reporters and journalists are supposed to remain neutral; is that really possible? Doesn’t their ‘personal style’ reflect in their photos? Many times a photo journalist can’t use their own real personal style like beyond the limitations set by their editors. They can choose the composition, the exposure, the lens, the perspective to tell the story.
We have all seen those photos that have made us say, “Wow that is awesome”. Why did we think that? What grabbed your attention? The answers to these questions may be different for each of us.
So many times we are afraid to try new things because we fear failing. Just as the old saying goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Imitating the style of another is a great way to learn, but don’t stop there. Customize those styles to better suit your personality, your beliefs, your life. In other words to develop your personal style be yourself.