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Photography is a highly refined artform that seeks to represent the world around us in new and surprising ways. Sometimes a photographer is tasked with creating accurate and documentary images that merely record an event but in most cases it is the personal expression of the camera person that makes a particular image stand out from the rest.
Photography is one of the most diverse artforms that exist and this is largely due to the huge scope for personal expression. Every person is different and has their own inner creativity that influences their style of photography. Naturally, one can argue that photography is a depiction of reality and the world around us, however, it’s also far more than that!
No Two Photographers are the Same!
Two photographers that were using the exact same camera and taking a photograph of the exact same scenery would still come out with different images! Each photographer develops their own way of expressing themselves and the world around them. You can think of the photographer themselves, and not the camera, as the true filter through which they represent reality in their work.
Why Should You Develop Your Own Way of Expressing Yourself in Photography?
- Firstly, it’s far more rewarding and fun to learn how to really express yourself through your art! When you take a photo that you feel perfectly captures what you were trying to put across it is deeply satisfying.
- Your work will have more of an impact on your audience if it is a genuine expression of your own individual style and view of the world.
- As you learn to express yourself, as opposed to copying others, your own skill set will evolve much more quickly and, just as importantly, in unexpected ways. This is vital to stand out in the competitive world of photography.
- When you express yourself through your work you also help to empower other photographers to focus more on creating their own unique styles. This creates a virtuous cycle that raises the quality and diversity of photography for everyone – with people taking inspiration from others and applying it in their own practise.
- Working in an honest way that expresses your own personal vision will improve your confidence. As your confidence improves you’ll be willing to take more risks, accept more opportunities and further develop your career.
5 Top Tips For Improving Personal Expression in Photography.
Expressing yourself in photography does, to some extent, come naturally however there are still things that are worth considering to help supercharge your creative process.
Don’t Obsess Over Your Gear!
As a photographer it can be tempting to overthink and obsess about the type of equipment that you are using. While it may help you to do certain types of photography, such as light trail photography, your gear is just a tool with which you can express yourself. The most important aspect of self expression will always be the way you look at the world and how creatively you can compose unique images that speak to your audiences.
Avoid Relying on Photography ‘How To’ Guides
While it’s always good to learn new things to help you develop your skill set there’s still no way that you can learn to express yourself from a book or a ‘how to’ guide! Guides and other instructional materials can tell you how to use your flash, or use a slower shutter speed, but you’re still going to have to come up with your own unique way of applying any technique that you’ve learnt about to truly express yourself.
Find Subjects You Connect With.
When you’re planning what kind of photography you want to work on you should always be looking for subjects that you connect with on a personal level. If you have a strong bond with the subject, whether it’s a person, a scenic view or a type of fashion, then you’ll find it much easier to express your passion for it through your photography. If, for example, you really connect with high fashion then you will be in a great position to express your knowledge, passion and bonds with the subject through your work. Conversely, if you have no personal interest in cars, for instance, then it will be much harder for you to represent your creative vision in a genre that you don’t connect to.
Separate Your Professional Life from Your Personal Work.
When you become a professional photographer you won’t always be able to express your inner vision because generally speaking your job will be to deliver what your client wants! If you’re working at a wedding then you have to represent the event and not be setting out to create a series of abstract montages that would be more appropriate in a Salvador Dali painting!
This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your professional work and gain a great deal of satisfaction by delivering exactly what your client is hoping for but it’s not usually going to be the ideal avenue for self expression.
Keeping your own photography projects distinct from your professional activities will mean that you can focus your personal expression on your own projects. This focused approach will not only help you to maintain your professional career but it will allow you to really express yourself more fully in a controlled way.
If you love landscape photography, for example, then you can pursue this in your own time while working as a wedding photographer for money. It’s hard at first to make a living as a landscape photographer but that’s no reason to quit! In time, as you get better at it and make a name for yourself you may be able to quit your day job instead and work entirely on your passion. However, realistically, this may take some time so keeping your own personal expression separate from your professional working life is the best way to balance the two.
Try Out New Techniques.
If you’ve ever found yourself lacking inspiration for self expression then why not try out some new techniques like light trail, silhouette or even abstract photography? Trying your hand at some new things can help to give you ideas and inspire different ways of doing things which can be applied to your other projects! Always stay open to new things and although you cannot rely on anything but yourself to find out how to best express yourself exploring new or unusual aspects of photography can always be a useful tool to have in your creative toolbox.
Personal Expression in Photography – The Key To Creating Engaging Work.
Working with whatever it is that allows you to best express yourself is always the most reliable way to create images that capture your own personality in an impactful and powerful way – something your audience will be more likely to respond to.
Your personal expression begins from the moment you point your camera and start to choose what will go into the frame. Even before you shoot the photo you are subconsciously excluding some things while incorporating others – all of which is part of your self expression!
So much of a photographer’s self expression is determined by how they interpret the world that being a little more conscious of what you’re regularly including in your work is one way to start focusing on your own style and representations of the world around you.
Unlock Your Personal Expression in Photography.
As you become more comfortable working in the field of photography that gives you the best opportunities to express yourself you will start to become more aware of how to reproduce it in the long term. This does mean though that in the early days you’ll have to be flexible and try your hand at a whole range of things before you start to specialize more.
Mastering personal expression in your photography is not only enjoyable and good for you as a creative, but it’s also good for your audiences and even society as a whole. You can empower yourself and increase your levels of confidence while developing your own style of photography. You can really make the world a better place by taking unique photos that show your viewers the way you see the world and how you represent it in your work.
What is important to you as a photographer?