Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

Stop Chasing Your Photographic Style

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 2 Comments

I have no idea what my photographic style is.  It’s something I get asked about quite often yet it still seems to disappoint some people that I just don’t know.

And you know what?  I’m quite happy with not knowing because it means I’m still looking. I’m still exploring the amazing world of wildlife photography without worrying about whether the images I’m creating fits my style.

It must be a very difficult thing, whether you are out in the field or sitting in front of your computer, to always try and work towards a style or make an image fit your style.  At some point, and I would like to wager that this will more often than not be the case, it must feel like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  It just just ain’t gonna work.  Wait, no.  It might work but you’re gonna have to bang away at it for quite some time but is that really the way to create images?  Bang away at something until it gives?

Yes, your images will always have a certain look and feel but this is something that comes from you.  Looking back through your work you should see different phases were you tried new things, learnt new techniques and photographed freely without worrying about whether you are staying true to your style.   That whole process will help you to grow as a photographer and eventually, if you keep being true to yourself and the reason why you head out into the field to create images in the first place, people will eventually realize that you have a style.   You won’t necessarily see this as you cannot read the label from inside the bottle but people might comment on it.  Take from these comments what you need to in order to move on photographically just don’t get side tracked and try to create images that fits your newly defined style.

If you always create images of elephants with dark black skies or you always oversaturate your images or you always create motion blur images or you always use the same presets you will no doubt get people congratulating you on your amazing images that is so true to your style.  Is that it then?  Have you defined your style and that’s all there is to it?

Too many wildlife photographers are trying too hard to define their style.  If you are one of these photographers please stop.

By all means, chase a vision.  Yes, that vision will change with time but that’s what makes it so exciting.

Keep working towards a specific type of image that you want to create or stories that you want to tell but don’t allow all the incredible technical and creative tools you have at your disposal to be used only to find a style.  Creatively it seems like such a waste.

One day, many moons from now, when you take your final image and you pack your camera away for the last time, that is the day when you can sit back and reflect on the style of your work because then it’s finished.  It’s not going to change anymore.  It’s done.

Until then, while you still have a camera in hand and the need to create new wildlife images, do just that.  Create new images and let your style take care of itself.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

Until next time.

Gerry

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About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at www.gerryvanderwalt.com or follow my journey on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Periscope.  I look forward to changing the way you see the world! Have you checked out The Wildlife Photography Podcast?

Comments 2

  1. Anne Greene

    Having a fine art background as well as being a birder/naturalist, I was happy to read your thoughts on “your style” I have finally excepted within myself that figuring out “my style” is such a waste of mental energy . It really is what we ” see” not just the final image that keeps us doing what we love. Thank you!

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