Tonje Lilleås

How to find your style as a photographer

One of the questions I come across very often is “how to find your style as a photographer”. And I get it. We all want to stand out from the crowd and bring something unique to the table. The answer you’re most likely to get when asking this question is basically “you do you”. However in todays post I want to share some more concrete tips on how you can do just that – find your style as a photographer.

My personal projects

I have a whole portfolio dedicated to my personal projects. It’s full of images that I have envisioned captioning, planned and where the results are according to what I think my style as a photographer is. Oftentimes these images are not the ones that get most attention from followers on Instagram or here on the blog. And that’s ok. The personal projects are projects I do to make sure I keep on developing my style as a photographer.

One of the most important things for me with these personal projects is to not restrain myself to a certain category of photography. Working on them I want to draw inspiration from all kinds of photographs, artwork, music, videos and just life impressions in general. Even though I consider myself an outdoor lifestyle and landscape photographer, my personal projects don’t always fit into that niche. And I think that helps me in finding my style as a photographer. But do you even really need to find your style as a photographer?

Why finding your style as a photographer can be important

Today everyone can be a photographer. We walk around with a camera in our pocket all the time. If we open an app on our phone we are bombarded with images. And as we are sheep, we copy what we see. That’s totally fine if we just want to shoot images. However if we want to tell a story or deliver a message with our images, we have to take it a step further. And a lot of us do.

As long as we are continuing to copy images we like from other photographers, I’m pretty confident that our interest will fade with time. If we really want to be photographers, we have to tell our story through the images we choose to capture. We have to work on putting ourselves into the equation that makes our images come alive. And that’s why we have to work on finding our styles as photographers; to keep it interesting for both ourselves and our audience.

How to find your style as a photographer

So let’s cut the crap and jump straight to todays tips on how to find your style as a photographer:

1. Experiment with different photographic categories

Even if you love looking at beautiful portraits or classic sunset landscapes, it just might be some other category of photography that gets you excited about shooting. Restricting yourself to one category of photography will not help you neither become very good at it, nor capture unique images within that category. If you experiment with different categories, you’ll be able to draw from what you learn and bring something new to the niche you end up with.

2. Make a collage of images you love – and analyze it

Making a collage of things that inspire you is a pretty common tip. However I don’t think you’ll be able to find your style as a photographer simply by making the collage. Just making the collage would be a recipe to find images you’d like to copy. The most important part of this exercise is to analyze both the collage as a whole and the individual images. Ask yourself:

  • What do the images have in common? What is it that I like about them?
  • How have the photographers captured these images? How have they handled lighting, composition, contrast and storytelling?
  • What would I do different if I was to capture these images?

The last question is crucial to find your style as a photographer. That’s where you should spend most of your creative energy.

3. Think about the edit when you shoot – and start editing from scratch

I can’t know for sure, but I do think a lot of photographers these days just slap on a preset, make minor adjustments and share the image. That’s fine. If you have made the presets yourself, and have shot the image with the preset in mind, then I guess it’s even showing your style of photography. However if you’re just slapping on a preset you bought, then you’re just copying someone else’s style of editing. I know, it’s harsh, but If you’d like to find your style as a photographer you can’t leave the editing to someone else.

My best tip is to think about how you’d like to edit an image, and then start editing from scratch. After having done that enough times, you might make your own presets based on actions you tend to repeat while editing. But remember that taste and style develops over time, and presets are never more than a place to start an edit.

4. Consume less – create more

This is a rather bad piece of advice from someone who would like you to consume the content I put out. However I still stand fully by it. When developing your style as a photographer, there’s nothing more damaging than consuming too much social media content. It’s almost impossible not to start copying the trends if you do. I know, I do it too. So consume less, create more. It’s going to be beneficial.

5. Find your people

I’ve been failing at this one since forever. As a photographer I haven’t found my group of people to shoot with, get inspired by and have nerdy photography conversations with. So I have to step up my game here. Because I really do believe that having a group of people that are sharing your passion for photography is so important when finding your style of photography. So this tip is for both of us – find your people.

Check out my portfolio – and make one of your own

I hope you found this post interesting, and maybe you got inspired to find your style of photography? Here’s a last tip; make your portfolio. Don’t consider Instagram or other social media your portfolio, you will be influenced by the response you get when choosing what to post. Make a portfolio on your website or even just as a folder on your computer. Your own selection of images that you feel represent you as a photographer. If you’d like some inspiration for the portfolio, I’d be very happy if you check mine out. Especially my “Personal Works”.

And if you did like this post; please give it a like and consider subscribing to my blog. It really makes me happy to be able to share my style of photography with more people. And remember; there’s always more to explore locally, so head on out and shoot!



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