I’ve written in the past about why you should have a photographic specialty. Simply put, you want to be known for being an expert in that particular type of photography. The same can be said for your photographic style. Having a consistent look and feel to your photos will make you stand out and become known for the way your images are delivered.
It isn’t just about post-processing — it starts when you first begin your photoshoot. But why is it important to have a consistent look and feel? Simply put, I want someone viewing my photos to know that they were photographed by me. For a client that I work with regularly, this is especially important, as it enables me to make sure I deliver a product that will consistently line up with the other photos I shoot for them.
It Starts at the Shoot
My style starts at the way I photograph and conduct myself as a professional. I dress in a way that will usually blend in with the crowd, making me seem more like a “fly on the wall” than another guest.
But most importantly, it’s about the way I photograph subjects. My goal is to catch that smile or laugh as people engage with each other. I consider myself a candid photographer, and so I want my photographs to reflect that. While I certainly capture posed subjects, I try to focus more so on candid imagery. And the posed shots I do capture I make sure will fit in with my other candid photos.
It goes back to what I wrote earlier — I want someone seeing my photos to say “these were shot by Bryan.” Having that recognition is important, especially with long-time clients.
Staying Consistent with Editing
Early on in my photography career, I played around with Lightroom presets. These can be a photographer’s worst enemy — or, they can change you for the better.
As what I call my “early stages,” none of my photos were consistent in the way they looked. They all had different presets, even if they were from the same shoot. No one knew that “these were shot by Bryan.” Instead, they just thought they were good photographs with a cool effect on them.
In today’s Instagram age with a plethora of filters to choose from, this is even more important to be wary of. With my shoots today, I consistently edit them for each client and each photoshoot. I start off with a base preset that I created — not someone else — and then apply adjustments as necessary.
This is most evident in my performance photography, where I consistently deal with changing lighting and different types of performances. Despite the trickiness of this, I adapt to the changing conditions and make sure that my photos stay consistent with each other, even if the shows are completely different.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Off the Deep End…Sometimes
That doesn’t mean that I won’t apply a film look to some photos, or go crazy with a preset from time to time. There are a time and place for that. As a commercial photographer, however, the experimentation happens with my personal work, when I want to explore a new style.
In cases when it does apply to client work, it’s been discussed beforehand, and it helps to further enhance the shoot.
How Do I Develop My Own Style?
As I wrote above, I used to play with Lightroom presets a lot early on in my photography journey. Throughout that was the realization that having natural-looking images was better for my client, and in turn, for me.
This doesn’t mean you have to personally follow my shooting and editing guidelines. Do what you feel is right, but stay consistent with it. If you’re struggling, look at other professionals and how they edit and produce images for their clients. While you don’t want to try to completely knock off another photographer’s style, it might give you an idea of what you like and don’t like.
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Learn more about Bryan at bryanesler.com.