Finding a photography style that represents who you are is a common challenge among photographers. Articles online might say you can do so simply by following x number of steps. Truth be told, there’s no one-two punch to finding it, so we’re not here to give a secret formula.
What we have gathered for you today are pieces of advice from Instagram-famous photographer Jelito De Leon based on his experience in defining his own photography style.
Go back to basics and play around with your camera to discover all the things you can do with it. Before you say “tell me something I don’t know,” note that Jelito De Leon himself admits that this is a step emerging photographers forget to do in their complacency, preventing them from maximizing their cameras.
“When Instagram gained traction here I was curious, I saw that there were all these different people from across the globe sharing such beautiful photos and some were just using iPhone 3! So I started exploring the settings of my phone that time which was a Samsung Note 2,” Jelito told The Crafters in an interview.
He added that not having a DSLR or even a point-and-shoot shouldn’t stop you from taking beautiful photos from your phone. “Just figure out how to toggle with the settings!” Whether it’s a telephoto lens or your smartphone’s rearview camera, it’s important to know your tool’s many functions. As you go your exploring, try shooting with multiple settings to learn what effects you like.
You might be thinking, ain’t nobody got time for that! No, we’re not saying you should spend hours and hours doing magazine cutouts, but having a mood board may open up into a landmine of creativity. Even seasoned photographers like Jelito make use of photo sharing sites like Pinterest to draw inspiration from.
Having a mood board allows you to go back to specific images that you liked, helping you pinpoint certain similar traits that will help you develop your personal photography aesthetic.
Your personal photography style is definitely not something you find overnight. It takes an open mind and thousands of shots to discover. You might already have a specific look or peg in mind, but it’s good to try out different styles.
Jelito said that before color blocking and grids became popular on Instagram, he even experimented with “filter blocking” by using one specific filter for a month and applying it on different photos until he finds the tone that fits his style.
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid of experimenting and enjoy the process. It’s a learning experience and an opportunity to refine what you’re already doing.
Photograph what you love
This was a process Jelito says he had to go through, inspired by Anette Pehrsson, anInstagrammer whose flatlays caught his eye.
“So I started exploring, and what better subject to take than something I love, coffee! I got into the habit of taking photos of it before drinking it especially on a white surface,” Jelito said.
As with anything you do, if you put your heart into something, it will show. But if you aren’t interested in and don’t have a love for your subject, then it going to undoubtedly surface in the photo, no matter how good a photographer you are.
So if you’re having a difficult time discovering your photography style, maybe it’s time to take a step back and look around. Find out what speaks to you as a photographer. Eventually, you’ll find that your eyes—and your lens—will point you directly to what you love.
Visit the GetCraft Marketplace to work with Jelito De Leon on influencer marketing campaigns using Instagram.