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Finding your style in photography

Photo from behind of a Vietnamese fisherman cleaning his net

Finding your style in photography

The learning curve in photography is a bit of a tricky one. I see beginner photographers dramatically learning and improving their skills, mostly when the camera settings become something intuitive and people don’t have to think about it as much as they used to.

Then the composition improves, people start seeing the light and understand what works and does not. This makes the photographer faster, more efficient, and focusing more on what is important in a scene.

 

But then there is a stagnation. People tend to spend a couple of years enjoying what they are doing, but the learning curve is pretty flat.

That is in my opinion the most crucial time, the one the photographer will start heading towards something they call their style. But here is the problem: it may happen that people start telling the photographer that their work has changed and that they don’t like it as much as before.

Portrait of a Hindu girl in Bangladesh

It is an ethical question that every photographer should ask themselves: do I take photos to please my audience and get more likes on Facebook, or do I take photos because I feel this is the right thing to do for me?

 

When shooting what you feel is right for yourself, it means you are going to transcript in your images what is deep inside you, your tastes, voice, vision and what you feel has to be shown. This is the time you will start creating your own style, and photos that people can see and think “Oh that looks like “insert name” image”.

Then the learning curve starts going up again, and creativity happens.

Young boy in Bangladesh selling papers to car drivers


Etienne

Founder of Pics of Asia, Etienne is a teacher with a photography habit.

3 Comments

  1. Steve on February 29, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    I enjoy going to take photos and trying to get better at it yet I often feel like I am taking photos without a real purpose. I believe my photography has begun to stagnate without a purpose. When traveling things are new and exciting so I am bound to take some photos of things that seem interesting to me. Today I was on a small island off of Taiwan and I saw a man that I thought looked interesting. I thought I would like to take his portrait…. But on the other hand I thought… What am I ever going to do with his picture? Is it worth asking to take his photo unless I am going to send him the photo or do something worthwhile with it? If not I am just bothering him. I like your post and it has me thinking about why I take photos and if I can take photos with more purpose and meaning.

    • Etienne on March 1, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Thanks for sharing Steve. It is true that it is important to find a purpose, but photography is also something we just love doing, and sometimes for no reason. About your man in Taiwan, I would personally see things a different way: instead of thinking I am bothering him, I would go and take his picture, and spend a bit of time with him. Have a chat (if possible), show him his picture, try to learn about him and what he is doing. I am sure this man would actually enjoy spending time with this man who cwas open minded enough to come and have a chat 🙂

  2. Dallas on April 28, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Absolutely correct – excellent post!

    You re-inspired me on your photo tour and the curve has continued.
    The right feeling and the right light is a great formula for improvement.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

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