I am a Metro Detroit based self taught Portrait and Wedding photographer. I am in my third year and I absolutely love it! Prior to finishing a Bachelor’s in Human Resource Management I dove into the world of photography and left the business world – it was the hardest yet best decision of my life. I have a huge aspiration for making people look and feel good about themselves by creating images good for the soul. THAT is what makes me happy. So this has been my experience when finding your style.
Alright guys, have no fear! You’re inside the rut; you just need a little help finding yourself. Most importantly I will say, it’s totally NORMAL, 110% normal (I added the extra 10% because I feel THAT strongly about it).
Okay, you have your camera, you love what you do and you’ve decided to go into the business. (Rock on!) But … your mind is going all over the place with what you want to do, what you want to shoot, editing?! How do I EDIT?! Sound familiar? Do not worry, it’s okay. Most photographers have been in your shoes and you know what it takes a long time for even some of the most amazing photographers in the world to find out just who they really are.
Here are 3 tips I think will help you on the right path to find out just who you really are.
Tip 1. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Here’s the thing – are you a newborn photographer? Are you a family photographer? Do you love photographing children? Or, maybe you’re a wedding photographer and you don’t know it! My advice is to get out there and photograph everything. Ask your sister if you can photograph her kids. Email local photographers and see if you can be their assistant during a wedding. And the same goes for newborns, contact local photographers and see if you can shadow them during a shoot! Seriously, it helps and it works! The reason I say this is it will help you understand, see and recognize just what your style really is.
I’m a mother of four children and starting out I wanted to be a child photographer. In fact, everyone I surrounded myself with was a newborn and child photographer. I made a small “studio” space (and I use that term loosely – lets just say it was rough around the edges – but none the less I was diggin’ my DYI in-home studio-ha!). Friends and family were more then happy to oblige when I asked to take photos of their children. After months and months of shooting children, I decided to take a leap of faith and …. * GASP * shoot my very first wedding! I decided to second shoot for another photographer friend who had been a beginner as well. I heard a lot of “oh you don’t want to get into weddings.” “Weddings are a nightmare!” I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was SCARED TO DEATH. You know what, I arrived and started to shoot and guess what … I. Loved. Every. Second. It was then I knew, I wanted to venture into weddings.
Just for fun, here’s an image of my work in 2010 (in my super fabulous in-home studio – BOO-YA!) This was right in the beginning of trying to find MY style.
And for fun, here’s a couple recent wedding images. Do you notice the evolving change in style?
Tip 2. The old “you’re copying me” fear. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with browsing through photographers’ work to gain inspiration – nothing at all. It’s a HUGE compliment to that photographer because clearly they are doing something right by inspiring others. Plus, lets face it you need direction, right? I looked at hundreds of photographers starting out to gain inspiration. Do you have a photographer you admire and just LOVE their style? Email them! Ask them if they could give you advice as to how they found their style. Everyone – even the most sought after photographers gain inspiration from SOMEWHERE. Take everything that inspires you and concoct your own version of it. BOOM! You have your own style!
I had a HUGE struggle with finding myself. I knew what I wanted, but achieving it was super hard. I consistently changed my editing style, I had no clue! I have my favorite photographers and I would look at their brand/editing styles thinking “That’s PERFECT” but each photographer had a totally different style than the other. I’m thinking to myself “how could I make it my own?” Days turned into weeks, which turned into months and now to years of finding me. Who am I? It finally hit one day – like BAM. I AM different then everyone. I love fabulous photos and I also LOVE outtakes, that’s what makes my brand, me. Hence, my recent branding change – ha! When it came to my style, I was able to create ways of being different but being true to myself. You can do it too, like I said before – take your favorite inspirations and concoct a YOU.
After spending hundreds of dollars on branding then really finding the real me I actually created my recent brand from scratch … by myself. WHAT?!? Yes, by myself. I created my own logo, some of my marketing material (the others I use templates), my own website based off a simple template etc…. I wanted that extra hard work in creating my brand so that I could gain a better understanding of myself. Why? Because I’m really the only person that can understand me.
Okay okay I am one who seriously digs outtakes!
Tip 3. Be yourself! Seriously, be your happiest of happy self. You won’t believe what a difference positivity makes in your work, your brand, your clients and most importantly to you as a person. When you are on social media sites like Facebook throw a little spunk in your posts that reveals your personality to your audience. The best way to get through to anyone is to be you. Your work will most certainly reflect that as well.
After only posting “Upcoming Events”, “Sneak Peeks”, or just posting a recent image to share, I realized I needed to really engage with my audience. Now, even if it’s a small “Good Morning.” Post – I will always throw a little fun in it like “Good morning, it’s Friday – HOLLA!” because that is ME. Give everyone happy, it’s the most valuable part of what you do.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and experiences when finding me. I hope this shed some light on people who are in the same boat or have been in the same boat as me.