The most important tool in the art of photography is your mind.
While some people are born creatively talented, there are ways to train your mind and eye for better results. Start with the basics, as advised in the article over at Light Stalking. Once you have built a strong foundation you can start developing your signature style.
By “focus” I don’t mean the focus system on the camera or the lens. I am specifically discussing your mental focus. What do you want to focus on when doing photography? Do you want to shoot landscapes? Bugs? Stars? Portraits? Pick one or two photography genres that suit your personality best, and focus on those. Yes, you will also need to shoot other things in your photography career, but you must have a forte, something that you are passionate about and excel at. When you decide on what it is that you do best, nurture that focus. You will continue to evolve in your understanding of the subject, and in your ability to capture and express it. This is why you need to focus on it and rid yourself of other distractions that could “pollute” your mindset.
Think Outside The Box
It is a good mental exercise to skip the first two or three ideas that you have for a certain subject. For example, your mind may start to instantly visualize a few shots when you stumble upon an interesting landscape. Try to ignore those impulses, on occasion, and open your mind to search for other angles. You are essentially forcing your mind to think beyond the conventional. This will help you most in times when you need to improvise, or when you need to shoot something that has been shot too many times before (like the Eiffel Tower, for example). Will it cost you some decent shots? Probably. Will it pay out in the long run? Most definitely. Why? Because your mind will have received powerful training in thinking outside the box.
For some the style evolves naturally – but some of us may find it difficult to determine what we want people to see in our pictures. Professional photographer Brad Olson has great tips for overcoming the creative rut.
Follow artists that inspire you – from a distance
Often there is a ‘regional’ look to photos in a city or geographic area. Support your local artists, but don’t follow their work regularly.
Don’t look at a lot of photos
Seeing a lot of poor photography can make you start to think that it ‘isn’t so bad’. It probably is very bad. Social media is rich with a wide range of images of various quality, limit what you choose to see.
Submit to curated galleries
Sites like Vogue Italia, 1x, Pentaprism, Worbz and Inmybag for example, have experienced editors that look at thousands of images and have a track record of identifying strong talent. If they are selecting and enjoying your work, you are probably on the right track to creating your own distinctive style.
We also have a video for you explaining how important it is for photographers to set goals instead of just dreams and hopes. Check out these tips on what to do to reach those goals and become an even better photographer.