Wedding and event photographers are a dime a dozen, so if you’re exploring the possibility of becoming one, you’ll need to spend a good deal of time figuring out one of the most important things that will separate you from the crowd: your photography style.
Granted, when it comes to weddings and events, there will be times when what the client wants will conflict with your vision, and that’s okay. It’s just part of the game. But developing a personal style is nonetheless incredibly important - it will define who you are as a photographer and help you establish your brand. So, how do you go about finding your style?
Explore Other People’s Work, But Don’t Stalk It
It’s perfectly fine to look at and admire the photos of other wedding and event photographers. You can get a wealth of ideas for specific shots and learn what you like and don’t like in terms of photography style by having a look at what other people are doing.
But what you need not do is stalk other photographers’ work. Try to avoid the temptation to fill your Flickr and Instagram feeds with wedding and event photographers. The more you rely on other people’s work to inform what you do, the less likely you’ll be to develop a style that’s distinctly your own. Instead, look inward for your inspiration. What is there around your house, your neighborhood, and your town that inspires you? What about your friends and your family can you be inspired by? Drawing inspiration from these sources will make your work much more authentic and unique.
Stretch Your Boundaries
A great way to develop your photography style is to try a lot of different things. Be creative with your compositions and practice using techniques that might be unusual or uncomfortable for you. Play with light and exposure. Shoot from various perspectives to see how it impacts the look and feel of your images. You never know when you might try something that you end up loving, and which has a long-term impact on your style of photography.
Part of stretching your boundaries should also include using different pieces of equipment. Try out different cameras and lenses, and different combinations of the two. See how a 50mm lens differs from an 85mm lens, both in terms of the results you get and in the way they allow you to work the crowd at a wedding or another event. Try taking shots while handholding your camera, with a monopod, and with a tripod to see how each setup changes the way your photos look.
Another idea is to give something like a photo booth a try to see how it influences the types of photos you can get. Models like the T12 from EZPhotobooths allow you to quickly and easily get setup so guests can take photos of themselves. The T12 shell is constructed of high-quality materials and will last you for years to come. Just add a tablet, ring flash, and a DSLR, and the booth is ready to work for you. The resulting images are usually candid shots of guests having a great time, and very well might be photos that you’d have trouble getting if you stuck a camera in guests’ faces. Exploring these kinds of images in which guests are totally relaxed can help you identify and define your personal photography style, particularly how you choose to pose your clients.
Take a Lot of Photos
Perhaps the best way to find your photography style is simply to shoot - a lot. To prepare for weddings and events, take photos of family gatherings and holidays. Volunteer as a second shooter. Work on posing by using your children, spouse, friends, and family as models. Just take a lot of photos and spend time examining them. What patterns do you see in terms of how you’re framing and composing shots? What do you like? What do you dislike? Have others look at your photos as well and give you feedback. This kind of introspective practice will prove extremely valuable as you identify what it is you want to show in your photos.
At the end of the day, remember that although your wedding and event clients will want specific shots, it’s okay to do so in your style. After all, once you’ve established who you are as a photographer, that will be a big part of why people hire you. So take lots of photos, stretch your boundaries, and draw inspiration from others, and you’ll be well on your way to developing a photography style that is all your own.