As you dive into the art of photography, you quickly hear that you need to find your own “voice.” Your own style. Something that sets you apart from everyone else. That as you continue on your photography journey your voice will start to emerge and develop.
But how do we find our own voice? How do we set ourselves apart from all of the other amazing photographers whose work we love? How to do create work that is true to our personal style instead of just creating what we think other people will like?
There are so many ways to figure out your voice and style with a camera in hand. However, sometimes the best way to find your style is to put the camera down for a bit.
Take time to look inwards at yourself. Step away from photography and find the other activities that feed your soul and your creative side. Spend some time doing the activities that make you feel happy and inspired. Take a break to reconnect with yourself and try and get all of the other ‘voices’ out of your head.
These are my favorite 5 non-photography activities for reconnecting with my voice. Engaging in these activities will fuel your creativity and help you take photographs that are true to you.
Keep a journal
My journaling days started in high school. Reflecting on the days activities, my dreams for the future, my goals, my feelings, my thoughts, my emotions. A private place where I could just write. All unedited thoughts without being judged, and all just for my eyes only. I would probably find my old journals a bit cringeworthy to read now, but cringeworthy or not they’ve been my therapy and a creative outlet for me that I wouldn’t change for the world.
If you want to get in touch with your internal world, take a few minutes each day to write. Remember it is just for you, so write whatever you want, however you want. You can write lists, make notes, write full paragraphs, record favorite quotes or song lyrics.
Related: How to keep a photography journal
By writing, you’ll quickly start to clarify your feelings and will get to know yourself better. You’ll soon learn what makes you happy and what doesn’t.
As an added bonus for us creatives, when you write you use your left brain, which is the analytical and rational side of the brain. While your left brain is busy writing, your right brain is free to create and feel.
Listen to music
Research has proven that listening to music makes you happier. It also lowers stress, improves health, helps with learning and memory, makes you work out harder, and improves sleep. With so many benefits to your overall health, there really is no reason to not get listening.
Music is a universal language that can be understood and felt by all. Luckily, there is no shortage of opportunities to connect with it! We hear music everywhere from the car, shops, at the gym, at the doctor’s office, at work, in restaurants, in our homes. We even encounter music while we are stuck waiting on hold with customer service!
Music has the power to influence our mood, behavior, and thoughts. Think about that feeling in the car when your favorite song you haven’t heard in ages comes on. How do you feel at the gym when an upbeat fast tempo song comes on? Do certain songs sparks specific memories? Perhaps they even bring you to shed a few tears. That’s the power of music.
What you choose to listen to is your choice and will likely coincide with your photographic voice. Rap, rock, country or classical…take your pick! Whatever you’re in the mood for, crank up those tunes and have a dance party, do some exercise, or simply lay down and relax. Just get listening!
Find a different creative outlet
As photographers, we are artists who have an internal need to create. If we’re not creating with our camera, we likely need another outlet to meet that need.
Painting, drawing, sewing, cooking, gardening, crafting, writing, graphic design, singing, interior design, dancing, playing an instrument…the choice is yours! Choose something you know you already enjoy doing or try something new. Try an activity once and move on or let it become a new hobby.
Accept and appreciate that there are other sources of inspiration in your creative life other than photography. Influences outside of photography may be where you’ll find your inspiration for your style.
Visit a museum
Take a trip to a museum or a local art gallery. It doesn’t need to showcase photography! Any artistic medium will do.
All art, including photography, is subjective to the viewer. We all come from different backgrounds full of different experiences and expectations and thus have various opinions on art.
When visiting a museum or a gallery, try to move beyond simple ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it.’ Consider how the art makes you feel. What about it do you like or not like? Why? If the art isn’t relatable to you, why not? What experiences did the artist have that you don’t resonate with?
The idea is to dig deep into your own thoughts and answer the questions honestly for you. Beyond being inspired by the art, answering these questions will help you to ask the same questions of your own work. It is when you do this that your true photographic style emerges.
Be in nature
The list of benefits to being outdoors in nature is long enough to fill this entire article and then some! We all know how good we feel when we step away from technology, get outside in the fresh air, and reconnect with nature.
For me, the beach is my happy place. I can feel it in my body, in my soul. It’s my calming place. The beach brings me healing. The magic of the beach with the sand, water, surf, and sun is where I feel most alive and most at peace.
The beach is my place, but for you it may be the mountains, the woods, the desert, or the plains. You need to go wherever makes your heart happy. When your mind is at peace and your heart is happy you’ll be more productive and more creative.
If you’re struggling to find your voice, reconnect and look within yourself. Your style isn’t trying to hide from you, it’s right inside of you!
Do the things that feed your soul. Listen to the things that draw you in. The things that make you most happy. The things that inspire you are often hints in the direction to take your photography.
When you are simply enjoying life the best ideas will occur and you will find you have the best photo opportunities. So find what speaks to you outside of photography and allow them to inspire your pictures. Make those images and then share them, and your voice, with the world!