One of the most common questions I get from new and potential clients is “How would you describe your style?”. I thought this topic would make a great blog post since I tend to go off on somewhat of a tangent when asked this. I believe that a photographer’s style can actually be broken down into three categories:
How they photograph the images they take (the way they approach taking the photos themselves as well as how they interact with their clients) and the look and feel of the final photographs themselves. Here’s a little breakdown on what that means!
Shooting style relates to the photographer is actually doing behind the camera when she (or he) is photographing. What kind of light are they looking for? What kind of angles do they like to shoot? What types of poses are they most likely to use? You can see many of these themes reflected in a person’s portfolio. Often it’s the shooting style rather than the editing that gives a photo a distinct feel. I personally love working with natural light and I typically choose to find open shade or have my clients backlit. With my indoor/night lighting, I try to mimic the same effect using off camera light! Everything I do is designed to create a soft, natural, romantic feel for my photographs…that includes picking flattering angles and directing my clients into poses that help add an intimate feel to the images!!
Everyone has their own approach to how they work with their clients based on what they’ve found works well for them and their style. Some photographers will help you into poses (I like to say I “coach” people rather than “pose” them) or others will hang back and let you kind of figure out what you’d like to do on your own. After personally having been photographed by both types of photographers, I’ve found that I actually really need to be coached (a lot, actually…) when I’m having my own photo taken, so I’ve always been of the belief that this is really helpful for others too! I give prompts on specific actions and will guide my clients into flattering positions…but it’s also not super rigid to where there’s no room for them to improvise or be themselves! In fact, to me, it’s very important for people to inject their own personalities into the session. I’ve worked with photographers who believe that their vision as an artist is paramount, but my priority is making sure my clients are pumped about their photos.
I consider my working style semi-editorial in that I will remove distracting elements from the scene before photographing it in any situation where that might be appropriate. There are other situations (at weddings specifically) where it makes more sense to let the moments unfold naturally without any intervention. There’s definitely a fine line between the two that takes time to learn, but this is something that I’ve found is incredibly important to know as a wedding photographer.
This component of a photographer’s style is the most easy to pinpoint because it’s the most obviously visual. You can probably tell if you like a person’s editing style by just clicking through a few of their images or taking a peek at their Instagram profile.
Editing can mean many things in the photography world, so this is a great thing to clarify with your photographer ahead of time. Within the realm of wedding photography, color corrected images (rather than fully edited and airbrushed) tend to be the standard, mainly due to the sheer volume of images that are delivered for weddings. Color correcting refers to taking RAW files (which are generally pretty flat on their own) and perfecting the exposure, colors, white balance, etc until they look perfect and reflect the “style” the photographer is looking for. Editing style is a pretty personal preference and will vary a lot from photographer to photographer. It’s important to consider whether or not you really love the photographer’s editing…is it distracting? Do you prefer a timeless or trendy look? Are you likely to want to frame images that look like theirs? And does their image editing style match your personal style and personalities?
Those are the three biggest components that I believe go into creating a photographer’s “style”. It’s so important to learn more about this before you choose to work with a particular photographer so that you can ensure that their style meshes well with what your expectations are. That’s ultimately the best way to have a great experience working with whoever you choose to go with and to be sure that you have amazing images that you love for a long time!
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