MY STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO CREATE YOUR PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE BOARD

I always found it super important to develop a recognizable style. Probably like you and every other creative. You know, a style that is specifically yours. When I started my project 365 finding my style was one of my main goals, so I definitely know how difficult the process can be and how much pressure we put on ourselves because we want to find that unique voice we’re told we have, so badly.

Honestly, there was really no way around creating many, many photographs to get to the point where my personal style slowly started showing up in my pictures and I am still working on it. But there is one thing that has really helped me out along the way: a photography style board.


What’s A Photography Style Board? – A Quick Look

Imagine a photography style board as a collection of images that represent the feel and style you would like to work towards as a photographer. A bit like a mood board, only that the images in your personal style board don’t have to work together and convey one mood.

They can be completely different in composition, feel and colors – the only thing tying them together is that you find them inspiring. In fact, if you try too hard to match all the images think too much about what someone else might think about it, you will end up with a collage that looks bland, rather than showing a distinct style. Collect images that speak to you because of your experiences and story.

Once you have created your style board, you can hang it over your desk, make it a digital desktop background or glue it in your photography journal and use it as guidance to find your style.



Step-By-Step to your Photography Style Board

1. Choose A Layout

A style board can really look any way you like but here are a few layout ideas to get you started:

  • taping images to your wall in all it’s random sizes and textures
  • a fold-out page in your photography journal
  • a gridded digital file you drop images in
  • a pinterest board

    You can create a separate Pinterest board to collect all images you find inspiring but for your style board limit yourself a bit. We’ll get to that in a second though.

2. Carefully Select Images

Only pick images that excite you or that you absolutely love. Do not question why you love them or restrict yourself because you think someone else might not like them. Treat this as your secret little project no one else gets to see – you can do whatever you like!

That being said, I would recommend narrowing down your selection of images to about 10-15 photos to represent the style you’d like to work towards. Too many more can be overwhelming and might be making it hard for you to stay on track. Just something to keep in mind. 

Places to look:

  • Start with an online search of topics that inspire you
  • Magazines
  • Books
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Billboards/Posters/Stickers/etc. (capture photo to use)

3. Add Notes


What do you like about the image?

Sit down, look at each image individually and note what you like about it. It can be “the happy mood”, “the intensity of shadows” or “the placement of her hands”. There are so many options but remember that it’s totally fine not to know why you like an image too. One day you might just figure it out.

Take only a couple minutes per image to quickly note the first thoughts that come to mind. If you think of something later, you can always add it but working quickly, you can access pure, real reactions rather than overthinking things.


How do you think the photographer achieved the look?

If you already know a bit more about camera settings, light set-ups, etc. it is definitely worth it to try to figure out how the work you admire was done, so that you have a starting point for your own photographs. Look over the notes for each image and try to find patterns.

Where most images you love taken at golden hour? In the studio? In a foggy forest? Even if you don’t know much about the technical stuff, you can just note simple observations and use those as guidelines to start creating in a way that represents your style.

For example: The images you love are dark and moody. First step to achieving that style is to stop photographing in bright sunlight. It seems super obvious but I definitely needed this reminder sometimes, so I thought you might appreciate it too. ;)


4. Place Board Where You See It Often

Having your photography style board in a place you frequently look at will help you keep the style you would like to work towards present, so that when you go out and take pictures you have a clear vision in mind and can take big steps towards your personal, distinct style.


MY STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO CREATE YOUR PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE BOARD

Here a quick re-cap:

1. Choose A Layout
2. Carefully Select Images
3. Add Notes
4. Place Board Where You See It Often

I hope you enjoy creating a style board but remember: don’t force something that doesn’t come natural. You might need to adjust your style board over time if you realize that you enjoy the images you collected but absolutely don’t feel comfortable creating similar ones yourself. 

If you have any thoughts or questions, leave a comment below.

Your creative companion,

Maike