Learn from the insights of famous photographers

If you want to establish a style, then start here.

Its not easy to know if you have a style as a photographer or not. If you a want to establish a style the one way is to test your skills on the style of other photographers. I have a few heroes – photographers who’s work I admire. I have often tried to follow their style and to be impressive in the same way that they were. I find that trying out the style of other photographers has helped me to confirm my own style. There is something about imitating others that brings your personal understandings and skills to the front.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

If you have been following this blog for a while you will probably recognise that I am intrigued and stimulated by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. His work is timeless in some ways. He seems to catch the essence of the people he photographs as well as capturing the essential expression of the scene that they are in. His work has an immediacy and raw emotion rarely seen even among the great photographers.

His work is as relevant today as it was when he was working. He seems to focus on street and candid photography for most of his works. In these he brings out the gritty meaning of ordinary peoples lives. In analysing his work, and following his lead my street photography has improved as has my understanding of his insights. Here are some of his works for you to browse…

Developing your own style

If you admire a particular photographer, old or modern, you can gain from their photographic insights. I find that when a photographer likes the photography of another, they often gain from trying out some of the pictures and techniques of their heroes. I have often done this with Henri Cartier-Bresson photographs. I have never perfectly matched a photograph by him. However, the shots that I have produced have helped me to define my own style.

I urge you to make a study of one or two photographers. Get to know their works. Identify some of the pictures you admire most. Analyse them in the context of some of the tools and compositional ideas discussed in this blog. Read books by them, seek out reviews and critiques of their works. Most importantly try to recreate some of their signature photographs in your own way. You will never replicate their work. However, you will establish some elements of your own style in trying to match their style.

Doing work in the style of another helps you to look closely at your own ideas and approach. Try it out – you will enjoy the idea as well as stretch your imagination and skills.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

5 responses to “Learn from the insights of famous photographers

  1. Wonderful piece to help one find their own style … I have tried this and find that it’s “trial and error.” Usually the photos (of mine) that I like the best don’t seem to get many comments from others. But,I think that by “trying to please others” and not pleasing oneself can be frustrating and even boring. It takes time to find and create the images that say something about the photographer.

    • Damon (Editor)

      Photography is what you make of it. Don’t be lead by what everyone else thinks it is supposed to be. Be you, enjoy what you want to show. The best photography comes from in you, not what you think should be in you.