photography philosophy

Developing your own visual style

Having our own philosophy is quite important in photography and in life. In today’s world of social media, it can become very tempting to take photographs that appeal to the wider audience, and let popular opinion influence the way we take our photographs. Much too often, a side effect of this is that the images would often lack the depth and emotional impact because what would be missing from those images is the element that is uniquely you – your heart, your mind, and your voice. We may inadvertently lose track of why we are on this journey in the first place.

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A consistent direction, along with hardwork and dedication to our goals and ambition enables us to get to where we want to go. Only when we work out why, can we really get to working out the how. After many years of doing street photography, one valuable lesson I have learned is that finding meaning and value in my own work is more important than popular opinion. The reason I got into street photography in the first place is that I wanted to capture the magic in our seemingly ordinary daily life.

Whenever I am out searching for a scene, an image I would ultimately take would be a scene that moves me emotionally or touches my heart, or it could be a scene that I find immensely intriguing. It is all too simple to be led astray and go for that enticing umbrella or silhouette shot, and sometimes, it is a shot that you are compelled to take, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as it is an image that is guided by your own thoughts and ideas. When we take images that really matter to us, that is where its emotional impact will lie.

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When we are committed to our own ideas, we will create images that are aligned with our innermost emotions and those images are those we can proudly call ours. A practical tip when going out there on the streets is before taking an image, or even just before venturing out for the day, have a think about your own purpose of doing street photography and try to keep it in mind when you are out and about. When I first began to really do this, I was very surprised to discover that the possibilities are endless, and there are no boundaries. When we have the freedom to express through photographs what is on our minds, and in our hearts, and take the time to self-evaluate and learn, we become better photographers not for others, but for ourselves. We will start to see and develop our own visual style.

What I really want to encourage to fellow street photographers in this post is, follow your heart, and don’t be confined by the boundaries set by others or each other. Take photographs of people and things that fascinates you and in a way that you see them. Be your own lighthouse. You will find that when you start to follow your instincts and intuition, that is when you can really start to challenge yourself and grow into a photographer you are meant to become.