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Rocky Road?

Douglas Pittman

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September 11th, 2020 - 03:59 PM

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Rocky Road?

What is it that sets a photographer apart? Can you recognize who took a shot just by looking at an image alone? Developing a signature style is something that most photographers struggle with when first starting out, but as they get a better handle on their craft, a recognizable style will usually emerge.

Fledgling photographers have plenty of questions that need answers. What do I shoot? How will it be lit? What camera and lens combination best captures what I'm after. Do I shoot in studio or open air? Black and white or color? These and a hundred other little things play into creating a signature style. At some point the questions get answered, we find a way of working that suits us, and as we log more time behind camera, a style starts to take shape.

When I first picked up a camera I was all over the map. I would take my camera to a weekend event and go exploring. No sense of direction really, but I was getting comfortable with my gear and developing an eye for composition. It didn't take long to find subjects I loved: cars. I'd show up at a car show and shoot anything and everything. After a few shows and more time spent reviewing my shots, I began to develop my own taste and soon discovered that I was shooting with the end result already in mind. More conviction.

The same holds true for the post processing side. First off, get familiar with your tools. It could be Photoshop, Lightroom or any other photo editing suite; no matter. They all come with a learning curve, but don't be put off. There are so many expert instructors on YouTube and other platforms, it's well within reach of most people. Follow along on a few tutorials and begin doing some experiments of your own. After you get past the “paint by numbers” stage, you should find that what happens in the digital darkroom influences your work behind the camera. Again, more conviction.

There will always be new cameras and/or software that claim to be able to turn your photos into the next masterpiece. Maybe. I love new gear as much as the next guy and try to keep up with the latest techniques and developments in photo editing. But at a certain point in life you already know what you like. When I walk into an ice cream shop, I don't struggle with all the choices. I'm good with Rocky Road.

All the best,
Doug

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