Discover Your Unique Photography Style

Discover Your Unique Photography Style

Your unique photography style is what connects your photos. It’s like the signature on your photos. While they may not all have the same theme, your photos have something in common and belong together. A signature look for your photos can attract more attention, especially on social media.

Learn what makes your photos unique and gradually work on developing your style. Find your wings, get inspired by others, and take flight.

If we compare photography to cooking, our photography is like a recipe with many ingredients. You add certain amounts of the right ingredients, stir, and season to taste. With photography, these ingredients are composition, light, colors, speed, and the photographer’s secret ingredient—their unique style. 

Unique Photography Style, Diagonale rossa
Nikon D5600, Nikkor 18.00-140.00mm f/3.5-5.6,1/2500s, f/3.5, ISO 250, 18mm 

Ingredients for a unique photography style

Composition is the foundation of style. Composition combines tried and tested possibilities, ideas, and the desire to experiment and surprise. Try to focus on the composition you usually use:

  • The number of subjects you use in your photography
  • The relationship and placement of subjects within the frame—centered or on the right or left side
  • One main subject or multiple subjects close together or far apart
  • The use of framing or other compositional techniques
  • The use of geometric shapes
  • A sense of depth or a flat perspective
  • Composition of the foreground and background
  • Symmetrical balance or asymmetry
  • Follow composition rules or intentionally go against them and break from everything conservative.

The composition we choose reflects our perception, taste, and individuality. It may seem like a photographer doesn’t have the opportunity to influence the resulting composition or that they shoot on autopilot. 

A good photographer knows what they’re doing even when they have little time to decide. They can change their position or move the main subject to influence the composition of their photo.

They think about what they want to have in their photo and what they don’t. They adjust the choice of lens or crop the photo accordingly. They intentionally tilt the camera or shoot from an unusual angle. You have plenty of creative options that you’ve either discovered on your travels or have yet to discover. And that’s what makes photography endlessly fascinating.

Try to observe yourself during your next photo shoot and figure out how you compose, how you set up a scene, and what goes through your mind before pressing the shutter button. Even if you don’t have your camera, you can “take photos with your eyes” and train your photography skills. This can help you learn what you’re looking for so that next time, you’ll be quicker and happier with your results.

Unique Photography Style, golf silhouette
Nikon D7100, 1/2500s, f/6.3, ISO 400, 36mm

I enjoy silhouettes in the evening light, as well as the contrast of small figures in vast spaces. I love the energy of rich colors, which are common in my photography.

Unique Photography Style, lighthouse silhouette
Nikon D7100, 1/160s, f/7.1, ISO 100, 52mm  
Unique Photography Style, photographer silhouette
Panasonic DMC-FZ2000 1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 125, 9mm

Direct the viewer’s gaze using leading lines or curves. These lines and curves often repeat in a certain pattern in pictures and photos. Notice whether diagonal, vertical, or horizontal lines or curves prevail in your photography. Do you like tilting the camera to highlight diagonal lines, or do you use leading lines to direct the gaze toward the main subject?

The light in your photos can come predominantly from a certain direction (side, front, backlight, etc.). It can be very pronounced or subdued, golden or cold, with rays directed at the main subject, coming from various sources, flattening or supporting the spatial properties of the image. The way you play with light, and its reflections and shadows, is crucial not only for good photos, but also for your photography style.

Colors, including favorite colors and their intensity, are significant characteristics of various photographers’ styles. In one photographer’s images, the colors scream, while another opts for more subdued tones. Do you like black and white or pastels, or do you have a favorite wavelength of light? How do you combine colors? Do your favorite photos have a certain color look or atmosphere.

Unique Photography Style, color energy portrait
Nikon Z6 II, Tamron 35-150 mm, f/3.8-4E, 1/320s, f/3.5, ISO 800, 90mm  
Unique Photography Style, black and white
Nikon Z6 II, Tamron 35-150 mm, 1/800s, f/4, ISO 400, 150mm

The subject or subjects in your photos are chosen by you and portrayed in a certain way. Your photography style is characterized by the subject, their facial expressions, thoughts, atmosphere, or a similar selection of setting or time of day.

Format – Do you like shooting in landscape or portrait orientation, or do you prefer atypical formats?

Contrast can be extremely high or more subdued and look like your photos were taken in a mist.

Focus – Do you prefer sharp images or intentionally blurry objects, i.e., shallow or deep depth of field?

Timing is important for your photography style if you have a certain moment that you want to repeatedly capture. It could be a decisive moment when objects are almost touching or are in a certain position in relation to each other, the calm before the storm, a situation on the edge, or beyond.

There are many creative ways to capture motion– sharp, frozen motion, or blurred motion with an emphasized path, a combination of both, or combining different exposures.

Realism or fantasy – Choose what holds more meaning for you. If you’re more of a realist, you want to depict pure, unadulterated reality without altering light or retouching. Perhaps you feel that photography doesn’t have to depict only reality. You can transfer a world filled with fantasy from imagination to images using your unique style.

Single-focus intent or multiple layers relate to whether you want to clearly show one main idea or if your photo has multiple visual messages that appear gradually as multiple layers.

Revelation or contemplation depends on whether you plan to reveal everything immediately or keep the viewer in suspense, forcing them to think and discover what you want to say.

Camera equipment isn’t the most important, but it can enhance your style if you use a specific lens or specific techniques. You can also add special effects or integrate photography with illustration and graphics.

Creative post-production should further enhance and highlight your signature style. With ZPS X, you can create your own presets that help define your style. I often reuse my settings for Black and White Points, Vibrance, and Saturate, Dehaze, adding Clarity and Brightness to the main subject, and a bit of Vignetting to darken the photo’s edges.

Using custom presets will help give you a unified and signature style.

For each “recipe,” the way you mix photography ingredients matters. Sometimes you may need to slightly adjust the recipe to highlight the mood, meaning, or atmosphere of your photo. Sometimes you add a new ingredient to your recipe – you learn something new, you’ll change something, and grow artistically. Your style evolves, and you become more confident.

What are the ingredients of your photography style? For the future, keep learning, evolving, and taking pictures. Dare to experiment and don’t be afraid to break the rules. It’s the only way to discover your unique style.

Clarify why you want a unique photography style

Do you need more followers on social media and commercial success, or do you want to stand out from the mainstream? Where do you showcase your photography? Who is your audience?

Once you find your inner motivation, the path to discovering your style will be faster and more enjoyable.

Don’t forget that your photographic style should reflect your personality, it should mainly resonate with you, like choosing the perfect outfit to wear. It reflects personal taste and lifestyle. It can support your creativity and self-confidence. 

Browse through your pictures and notice what your favorite photos have in common

Look at your favorite photos with a fresh perspective, as if you are seeing them for the first time. What connects them? What is interesting and most impressive about them? Go back in time and go through your pictures. When you discover what visually appeals to you, you can take photos in any situation because you already know what you are looking for.

Your photography style is related to your idea of what is beautiful. Beautiful in your eyes may not mean perfect. It can be subdued, dilapidated, broken, yet still have style.

Look for repeating elements—favorite colors and their combinations, type of light, recurring composition, and large or small contrast. Based on that, develop your signature style.

Discovering such a unique and unmistakable style, by which everyone immediately recognizes your photos, is a challenge even for advanced photographers. The journey of discovering your style reveals a lot about your personality. When you define what is typical and important for you as a photographer, your photos have a better chance of success.

Unique Photography Style, dancer in blue
Dancers in Blue
Nikon Z6 II, Tamron 35-150 mm, f/3.8-4E, 1/320s, f/3.5, ISO 800, 92mm
Unique Photography Style, dancer in yellow
Dancers in Yellow
Nikon Z6 II, Tamron 35-150 mm, f/3.8-4E, 1/200s, f/3.3, ISO 1000, 65mm 

I believe that dancers should express the joy of movement, so I wanted to add even more dynamism to the photos with my favorite diagonal lines. I intentionally seek out or create diagonals in most compositions, whether they are portraits, landscapes, or close-ups.

Unique Photography Style, dancer with fan
Dancer with Fan
Nikon Z6 II, Tamron 35-150 mm, f/3.8-4E, 1/320s, f/3.5, ISO 1250, 60mm 

A second opinion can help you discover your style

For each of us, it is difficult to judge our work, so a second opinion is helpful. You can only gain when you consult with another photographer.

An objective opinion and someone else’s perspective can bring positive feedback, ideas for improvement, and inspiration for the future.

Turn to someone you trust and discuss which photos they consider the most impressive, and most importantly, why. What are the elements of your signature style in them? It’s a way to move forward, and at the same time learn what’s interesting about your photos.

Don’t be discouraged if you initially only discover a few commonalities and hints of your style. This is the path that all well-known photographers before you have taken. 

Get inspired and experiment with your style

You can get inspired by the signature styles of other photographers to see what options you have in the beginning. Then you need to look for yourself and your photography. Artistic styles, which you have encountered not only in photography, are minimalism and its opposite – a graphically complex style.

Minimalism is typical in that it chooses a minimalist object, geometric lines and shapes, uniform shades of colors, and mainly uses a lot of empty negative space. It gives a clean, smooth, and simple impression.

In contrast, a graphically complex style is effective, dynamic, rich, has vibrant colors full of energy, and likes to experiment with the point of view, tilting the lens, with the subject off-center.

Which one speaks to you more? You can create your unique photography style. Everything you need is in your hands.

Just like our view of the world, our photography style changes.

We may notice that what used to often appear in our photos, we no longer shoot or we try to capture differently. This is also related to the fact that we want to try something new in photography, experiment, surprise, stand out, and break from the established rules.

Seek out your photography project

One way to develop your photography style is through photography projects. This is a series of photos on a unified theme of your choosing. You will see how your project “gets you out of bed” and you will go out to shoot even when you might otherwise feel there is nothing to photograph. Suddenly, you will discover your photography opportunity, which can last as long as you enjoy it.

Unique Photography Style, zofka a vendulka
Zofka and Vendulka
1/250s, f/4.5, ISO 500, 85mm
Unique Photography Style, sarka a vendulka
Sarka and Vendulka
1/320s, f/4, ISO 800, 85mm

The Relationships series captures the real strong relationship between two people or a person and an animal. I am most interested in the authentic and unpretentious. I don’t photograph beautiful models with a beautiful animal when they have no relationship with each other. I prefer a real horse lover and her horse. The moment of mutual harmony is the most impressive for me. I want to capture closeness, touch, an embrace, a certain harmony, and spontaneous expressions. Compositionally, the touch of the main subjects, the turning towards each other, and the connection of diagonal lines are important to me.

Unique Photography Style, vendulka a sarka
Vendulka and Šárka
Nikon Z6 II, Nikon 85mm f/1.8G, 1/1250s, f/2.2., ISO 800, 85mm
Unique Photography Style, love in the air
Love in the Air
Nikon Z6 II, Tamron 35-150 mm, f/3.8-4E, 1/400s, F4, ISO 320, 65mm 

Everyone sometimes doubts whether they are heading in the right direction. Every photographer gets overwhelmed by uncertainty about whether what they are creating is worth it. Whether they have already exhausted all their creativity or whether another idea or great photo will ever come.

Discovering your photography style will not only help pull together your photography portfolio but also give you greater confidence that you are on the right path to even better photos.

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AuthorPetra Horakova

I am a photographer and teach photography classes for children. Photography opened a whole new world for me. I began intensively shooting photos 20 years ago with my first camera, and from that moment, I haven’t stopped seeing the world from a brand-new perspective, through my “third eye.” I want to pass on this joy of photography to children so that, like me, they can discover a new world. A world where they can find an outlet for their creativity, let go, while at the same time connecting with other inspiring photographers. I most enjoy portrait, family, wedding, macro, and sportsphotography, and also sharing inspiration with young photographers in our Foton photography classes. You can find photos and information about Foton photography classes on my website.

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