Style is the difference

If you want to see my eyes roll, just tell me you never edit your images, you get them perfect in the camera.  Yeah, right.  What this actually says to me is that the photographer simply doesn't want to learn how to make their images better by editing them.

Here's what I see when someone says they just get it right in camera.

Stump isolated

Anyone with a saw can get a log to look exactly like this every time.  Clean and neat and it looks like every single log in the wood pile.  Value?  About 50 cents.  Unless you are really cold, then it's more, but I digress.

Now, here is the same log, but edited by a craftsman, with tools they have learned and used for many years to perfect their skills....and, alas, their style.  And the value?  A hell of a lot more than 50 cents.

carved spiral wood texture

So, here's the deal.  You have to have a style of your own.  Period.  No question.  If you want to make money or just stand out from the crowd, you have to be unique.  Style does just happen.  And it'll be a unique style.  But the hundreds of hours of trial, error, learning, and growing are required.  And hell yes, that road is paved with self doubt.  You can bet your life that the above beautifully carved furniture wasn't the craftsman's first try at it.  He or she is very skilled at taking that block of wood and shaping it into something beautiful, something that makes you enjoy the curves, and invites you to touch it and feel the smoothness.

As a photographer you have to know your camera...all of it.  What everything does, how the lenses work, what settings give you what kind of raw shot.  You need to know about lighting.  Not just studio but how to use natural light to the best advantage.  You have to learn to see light differently than you ever have before.  And then you need to know how to edit.  Learning how to blend and adjust an image to look like your heart says it should look.  Some say this is cheating.  These folks are easy to spot....they are the ones sitting on logs.

A style can take years to develop and it will sneak up on you.  One day people will look at one of your images and know it's yours just by looking at it and seeing something subtle about it that is, indeed, your style.

The style is a refined understanding of all of the tools and then your mind finishing it off with the feel, the flavor, that moves you.  An image can take minutes to complete or hours or even days.  Every style has a bit of artistry in it in the end.

Style draws customers.  Especially customers who understand quality and will pay for that quality.   It's not easy.  It's very hard work.  It requires dedication.  The results are a life long asset.

Build your style.