The PHOX Planner blog

Defining your photography style

How & Why to define your photography style…

With a defined photography style you create consistency in your images, which creates TRUST and this creates CLIENTS. Your clients know what to expect and know what they are booking. If you look through your portfolio does is have a consistent style?

The more you can control what your audience sees, the more defined your style becomes. A clearly defined style will help you attract the clients you enjoy working with and build your business going forward.

When you are starting out this is the time to experiment and explore different styles. Gather inspiration from what moves you, what you enjoy, your passions, and start to shoot more of what inspires you. It is good to look at other great photographers and study their work for ideas and inspiration, to help you observe the styles that give you joy, but ultimately your style must come from you. Whatever genre or niche you focus on, make your style distinctly your own.

How do you do this?

All great photographers started somewhere, and they have all put in the hours to get to where they are now. If you put in the time, and keep shooting and practising and experimenting, you will start to develop your own style and your own talent.

Let’s start by looking for similarities in your images, and in images you love that have been taken by others.

– What emotions and feelings do they create? What is the overall mood?
– What visual similarities do they have – look for tangible patterns you can see like composition, depth of field, colour tones, and any other points of uniqueness.

Start observing your growing collection of images. Build a portfolio of only the images that you love and feel represent what it is that YOU offer your clients. Be confident to reject images that do not fit in this emerging collection. If you can understand WHY you choose each image in this collection, then you will be more consistent, and the more consistent you are then the more defined and authentic your style becomes.

We can then begin to think about how these styles are achieved.

  • Is the photographer giving direction – are they posed or more spontaneous captures?
  • What camera settings are consistently used – wide or shallow depth of field?
  • What lens is consistently used – wide angle like a 35mm or a more classic portrait lens like the 85mm?
  • What colour tones are consistently achieved? Earthy dark tones, or light pastel tones? Lots of B&W images – are these light or heavy in contrast?
  • Is there a consistent editing pattern – light & colourful or dark & moody?

Let’s look at some examples of unmistakably defined photography styles.

Jose Villa has an instantly recognisable photography style. Visually his images are beautiful, light, and vibrant in soft colour tones. He shoots on film to consistently achieve this and has created editing pre-sets that produce a consistent result. The mood in his images is calm and serene.

© JOSE VILLA – FINE ART WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Elizabeth Messina has a dreamy, luminous, ethereal visual photography style which is extremely delicate. Her style is very feminine with a passionate emotional style. Her emotional style and visual style both have such definition that it can be replicated across her weddings and portrait work and is still highly recognisable.

© ELIZABETH MESSINA – WEDDNG & PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER

Kirsten Lewis is an award winning photographer who has a documentary photography style which she achieves in her “Day in the Life’ sessions. Very spontaneous, non-posed, she often uses a wide angle lens and defines her style as ‘pure family photojournalism’. Her style is about telling a story, so she works in a particular method during her shoots to achieve this. The emotional style is more dominant than her visual style.

© KIRSTEN LEWIS – DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER

Skye Hardwick is well known for her bright & colourful children’s portraits and one of the signature consistent looks in her photography style is the use of props. She also uses a bold rich palette which is enhanced in editing . Her visual style is her strength and she creates it by planning her shoots in advance. She can still create something very unique and personal for each family, but her style is defined by her consistent use of props and rich colour.

© SKYE HARDWICK – WORK OF HEART PHOTOGRAPHY

Boggio Studios in London also uses colour consistently in their well-defined photography style. The majority of their images are created in the studio with a highly posed and polished look. They create a fun and humorous mood through the use of pose, colour & props. They market the studio by bringing in seasonal events and a look that can be promoted to multiple families. This consistent look creates a demand from clients who know and trust exactly that they will achieve a certain style of image in their session.

© BOGGIO STUDIOS – LUXURY FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY

Chloe Ramirez tagline is Photos That Ooze Love – everything in her photography portfolio is defined by the mood of love, whether that be couples or families. She defines her photography style very much by the emotional style. Her images all have a consistent visual look too in the way they are shot and edited. She focus on movement and spontaneity, each shoot being very different, but the overall finished style is earthy and rich. She will appeal to a consistent client base who are looking for authentic happy images of their family.

© CHLOE RAMIREZ – LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER

Julia Kelleher is a studio based newborn and family portrait photographer. Her photography style is organic and textural with clean, neutral backgrounds. She defines her photography style by keeping her shoots relaxed and not overly posed but they are directed to be consistent with her style and brand. You can see a consistent colour palette across her portfolio which makes her photos recognisable and sought after.

© JULIA KELLEHER AT JEWEL IMAGES

Danielle Finney focuses on colour and beautiful light to define her photography style. All her portraits are produced with a vibrant colour palette and create a joyful and happy emotional style. Her success has been down to the consistency in her photography portfolio which creates a certainty for her clients when booking her.

© DFINNEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Now that you are booking your own photo shoots, it is time to start defining your photography style so you can stand out from other photographers and create a niche that your clients love you for. Start by choosing 10-20 of your favourite images. Images that you love and feel represent your best work. Look for similarities, look for your emerging emotional and visual elements in your style, and reject any that don’t fit. What you show your clients is ultimately the style you will be known for. Make it one you are passionate about… ?

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