In our content-heavy world, a distinct aesthetic can get your photography noticed—and recognised again and again.
Maybe it’s an unusual lens, a unique filter, a custom preset, or an unconventional post-processing technique, but a visual ‘signature’ always sets an artist apart.
“Being recognisable is critical in this digital era because people are scrolling so fast that you only have one second of their attention,” the New York-based photographer Mischelle Moy explains.
“Earning recognition for a signature style definitely lent itself to my work being spread across platforms faster and helped me grow my following, which in turn has pushed me to create more and share more, and eventually resulting in promising gigs.”
We asked seven photographers with vastly different—but equally identifiable—aesthetics to tell us about how they developed their styles. Here are their tips for creating your own.
Image © Mischelle Moy 1. Learn to post-process manually (at first)
“I actually learned how the Curves adjustment worked from downloading presets to see what controlling each curve does, but always making sure to edit each adjustment manually during post-processing, from start to finish,” Mischelle tells us.
“Each image may look similar, but they were not processed the same. I have been practising this since day one. Experimenting with various techniques within the software definitely played a big role in figuring out my style.
“Experimenting with various techniques within the software definitely played a big role in figuring out my style.”
“My early experimentation included creating a lot of gradients in the horizon and skies. I was studying all the various sunset palettes and taking them a step further, twisting them into neons and greens to mimic northern light skies. After that, I moved on to understanding the given colours of leaves (by that, I mean the hues that the camera captures) and twisting them to becoming reds and purples or electric blues.
“I think what helped me a lot in understanding the multiple uses of each tool was playing with them, and if you have a hard time figuring it out, download a preset and move everything around—moving the curves, layers, switching blending modes, etc. Once you’ve mastered these tools, you will learn their limits and bend them to work for you in your process.
“Plus, once you become accustomed to this practice, you might realise the benefit of making your own presets for the sake of saving time, but still remember that each adjustment can be altered.”
Image © Natalie Christensen 2. Take photos every day
“In the beginning, I took photos constantly and I looked at a lot of other photography work too,” the Santa Fe-based artist Natalie Christensen remembers. “I tried to emulate what I was most attracted to and so just practised and practised. I think it took me about eighteen months to find my style, and I was shooting for hours every day.
During this initial part of the process, follow your gut and try not to get too wrapped up in the technical details; those can come later. “I had to teach myself to use a camera, and I taught myself the basics of post-processing, but that was the extent of it,” Natalie adds. “For me, it is about ‘seeing’ first. I want to feel something when I look at my images, andContinue reading