Thoughts on Finding a Photography Style

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Over and over again we hear of the importance of having a style. The art in our portfolios and Instagram feeds needs to have consistent colors, genre, lighting and more, in order for us to be recognized and successful

But what if you are like me and do not want to be restricted?

I'd like to argue for those of us whose preferences do not neatly fit in boxes.

You see, I find it very ironic that this “style” that is supposed to differentiate us from others has led to several photographers shooting nearly identical images. The proof is in visiting @insta_repeat.or the plethora of feature account pages.

I have often been tempted by the lures of photographing “consistently”, but if I follow a formula such as: 'always shooting with color A and B', at X time of day, with Z lightroom present…What stops others from copying the formula?

And more importantly, why should I reduce my creative process to an algorithm? Algorithms are for robots and robots aren't capable of artistic expression.

They might be making art but I wouldn’t call them artists.

Art comes from a deeper place. It is about communication.

Colors, light, presents…those are just tools, but they aren't the communication itsself.

If style were a disease; I like to think color, lights and presents would be the symptoms, not the actual cause. Instead, you catch the style fever from how you communicate with the world. And how you communicate with the world comes from how you are: your paradigms, your emotions, your DNA….

Style is something you discover gradually, organically. Usually, people notice fragments of it before you do. Just like they notice your unique character quirks before you do, and surprise you when they point them out.

In summary: You don't make style, you discover style.

So set forth and have the courage to have a mismatched Instagram feed :)

(On a side note: platforms come and go. Are you really going to let a platform dictate your creative expression? Do you really want to have nothing, but nearly identical images, to show for it when Instagram dissipates with all the likes and followings?)

And the good news is that while initially your pictures might initially look Frankensteinish when placed together, you actually stand a better chance of standing out in the long run. Because your style will be a reflection of your unique personality, instead of a defined formula.

Imani ArungaComment