Bringing Consistency to Your Work
If you’re a High School Senior photographer like me (or in any genre of portrait photography), chances are you have struggled with finding ways to bring consistency to your work. What do I mean by “consistency”? Well, think about it from an artistic perspective: every famous artist (painter, photographer, writer, etc.) typically has a certain style or technique that separates their work, past and present, from other artists’. Their style may grow and change over the course of their life, but there are always defining elements that distinguish their art from others’.
So, the question is… how do you develop your own defining style that brings consistency to your work? First, pretend someone has asked you to describe your photography style. Grab a pad of paper and a pen and jot down the first ten words that come to mind. They might include words like “bold”, “colorful”, “fashion-oriented”, “editorial”, “natural”, “vintage”, “clean”, etc. Think about your favorite images you’ve shot and the adjectives that you would use to describe them. Chances are, these are the elements that define your style.
It’s more difficult than you think to take what you like about your best work and try to achieve the same effect throughout your future shoots. That’s where technical consistency can really help. Check out my article from last week for tips on using a reflector, good angles, lighting techniques, etc. for some ideas. Having good technique and the ability to properly expose your photos goes a long way in bringing consistency to your work. Practice applying the techniques you used when you shot your favorite images, and make sure you take the time to continue to use them well when shooting in the future. Your work is going to constantly evolve as time goes on, but you should always have connecting style elements that make your work stand out.
On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with having several different styles that define your photography throughout your career. From an artistic perspective, look at Pablo Picasso: he experimented in many different styles and techniques, and even was primarily responsible for developing several new art styles throughout his career. His early work is so incredibly different from his later work, but there are still similar emotions that can be seen in most of his artwork. It’s up to you to tell the world who you are through your photos: you can do so by using a consistent style that grows over time, or you can take your time and experiment with many different stylistic elements. That’s the beauty of being a photographer: you are in charge of your creativity–no one else can define you!
Just remember that we are not only artists but business owners as well. And one thing your clients like is consistency. Consistency in your work will attract your ideal clients, will distinguish your work from your competitors’, and will help guarantee success in the publishing arena. It might seem like a good idea to have a variety of current styles to photograph in, but you will be more successful if you stick to one defining style.
Just remember that it takes plenty of time for your work to mature and grow into a consistent style that you love. I’ve been shooting for a while now, but it wasn’t until last year that I realized I wasn’t happy with my style of photography and that I wanted to grow into a different brand of photography. I thought long and hard about what I wanted my work to convey, and over a year later I am so much happier with the consistency of my images. I promise that you, too, can find a consistent style that reflects who you are as an artist and use it to bring success to your business!