One of my secret obsessions that I love to do it go online and make a list of your favorite photographers because I love photography that much.
Seriously, go online and look up some photographers that when you see their work you say WOW! If you don’t know where to start, google “famous photographers”. I can go through a list of amazing artists: Sally Mann, Zack Arias, Ansel Adams, Mary Ellen Mark, Anne Leibowitz, Richard Avedon, Illana Panich-Linsman, Doug Weiner, Emmanuel Rosario…I mean the list goes on. And I am proud to say that some of the people on this list are good friends of mine 🙂
As you look through the list of your favorite photogs, ask yourself these questions: WHY do I like their photos? What is so different about these images? How do their photos get seen? And the answer it quite simple: They have their own signature! If you see their portfolio, you can tell that they all have a different sense of style. Whether it is color, camera lens, theme, etc. these photographers have found their niche and stuck to it. They stuck to it for so long it became their signature.
So the question is: how can YOU get that? How can you have that impactful signature style where people look at your work and know “Oh this is your work for sure!” I wish there was a simple quick and easy answer but here are some quick tips on how you can find your way there:
- Get Out There & Shoot – Most of the great photographers in history were out and about just taking photos of life. They really didn’t have a purpose just wanted to shoot things that were interesting to them, which then lead them to ideas and techniques on how to take images of their own.
- Find A Mentor – If you like a certain photographer on the internet, take a chance and reach out to them. Tell them about your journey, how much you admire their work, what your desires and plans are and how did they get started in photography. It sounds insane and because we live in the world of technology we think that this simple step won’t work…but you will be surprised at how friendly photographers are. I just recently spoke to a photographer who works in the New York Times and had a 2 hour convo with them! So it can happen.
- Never Stop Learning – The path of finding your own style and signature is the patient path and the path of the student. Take some photo seminars, go to the library and look up different photography books, read photography blogs, shoot any type of photo genre. Remember that you will always be a student and there will always be something new and exciting for you to try. You just have to be open and willing to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. That is where the “ah-ha” moments exist.
Now this might not be super exciting for you. This might be either a no brainer to some of you or it seems like unnecessary work for a photographer to do. And that is what separates the photographers that keep going and get their work out there….from the ones who don’t take the time to explore and end up nowhere. You will not get everything right the first time, or the second or the third. It’s up to you to go through your journey and find your voice. Keep learning, keep studying and keep taking risks because that is the path to being one of the great photographers.
Let me know who are your favorite photographers in the comments below and why you think they are so great!