Forming a Photographic Style

Nikon D4, AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/80

My friends and I were teaching a class and we had one student that we all were trying to figure out why they were taking the class. He found each of us and wanted to tell us all he knew about photography.

One of us mentioned how it takes 10,000 hours to master something. Malcom Gladwell talks about this in his book and I have written about it as well on the blog. Here is that link.

The student then went on to say then I am a master then. One is a master when others acknowledge it about you and not the other way around.

My mentor Don Rutledge was trying to form a style and talks about how one guy told him about his style.

Listen to Don talk about it here:

Your browser does not support the audio element.
Now if you want to hear the entire talk by Don then here it is for you.

Your browser does not support the audio element.

Why is it so hard to establish one’s style? I think the hardest thing for most pros is the lack of feedback.

Once you were a hobbyist your friends would compliment your work and tell you how good you are and you should be a photographer. Once however you become a pro, they no longer give you that feedback. Why? You see now you are expected to make great photos.

I think professional photographers need to seek out and pay for feedback.

The other day my friend Will Flora did an experiment with some workers. He is a training director for  a company. He got some front line workers to come to a bowling alley where he paid them to bowl for the day.

There was a catch. He had covered all the monitors and put up a curtain so they could not see how many pins they took down or see their scores. After a while the workers wanted to quit and go home.
They were being paid to bowl for the day and they wanted to quit.

As they were taking off their shoes, Will removed the curtain and uncovered the monitors. A guy asked if they could still bowl without the stuff in the way. He said of course. They then started to bowl and have fun. You see people enjoy work when they understand their part–especially when they can make a game of it.

Nikon Coolpix P7000, ISO 100, ƒ/7.1, 1/1000

While it is important that you get paid as a professional photographer and paid a good wage for your creative talents we still need and want feedback. How are we doing?

Here is a to do list for you:

  1. Find Mentor/Coach to help you discover your style
  2. Be sure the style you are pursuing is the core of who you are and want to become
  3. If you like a photo and you know the photographer take time and tell them that you like it and why. You gotta be willing to give feedback if you want to receive it.
Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 1/400
Don’t be the photographer that is a legend in their own mind.

Leave a Reply