Just like fashion, photography has its own trends too. And more often than not, you’ll see people who follow trends get more feedback and recognition on social media. Does this mean you should follow trends too? Should you rely on other people’s work? According to Steve O’Nions, this is not the path to take. In this video, he discusses why you should take photos your way and stop caring about how others do it.
Steve’s video made me think of two things: all those different looks that have been popular since I started photography; and the work of photographers I admire and who are more successful than me.
When it comes to the popular style, you’ll often see photographers trying to replicate it. It will inevitably bring them more likes and comments on social media, and it may be one of the signs of their popularity. But trends come and go and they’re dictated by others. On the other hand, your personal style stays, changing and evolving based on your preferences and personal growth. Over time, it will make you stand out from the crowd. So, which of these options sounds more appealing to you? Following trends, or building your own style? One may argue that it’s difficult, even impossible to be unique nowadays. But the truth is that focusing on your own wishes, preferences, and priorities pays off with time.
So, does this mean you shouldn’t care about other photographers’ work? Absolutely not. This brings us to the second point I mentioned. You definitely should pay attention to other people’s photos. After all, there will always be photographers you admire and from whom you can learn something new. Some artists argue that you should even copy other people’s work, and there are situations when copying is a good idea. It will sound like an oxymoron, but copying others can ultimately lead to creating your own style.
The bottom line, in my opinion, is that you should be inspired by others and learn from those who are better than you. But I believe that you shouldn’t try to be them and have your photos to look exactly like theirs. If current trends or someone’s style don’t suit you and you just don’t “feel” them, then stop trying to follow them. Follow your own preferences and shoot what you love and how you like it. You will feel much better, your work will feel more genuine and honest, and ultimately – you’ll be recognized for that.