The hardest part of being a photographer is to find your inner, authentic voice or simply put “your voice”. What do you want to photograph and why? What message you want to convey and why should people care about your work?
The first advice a beginner photographer receives is ‘take as many pictures as you can’. This method helps you practice different techniques, learn to use the camera, and get used to shooting in unplanned conditions. But until you find your real voice your work will come across as unfocused and will hardly be taken seriously.
Finding your voice is a long and complicated process. For some people, it comes naturally. Nevertheless, for most people, it comes with experience, practice, and self-awareness.
A good photographer never stops learning
Cameras, lenses, filters, and photo editors can easily be learned. Mastering the technology is helpful, but it isn’t the secret to a successful career as a photographer. You also have to learn composition rules, working with different types of light, and playing with perspectives and angles of shooting. But even when you’ve read all the books about photography you still have many things to learn.
To find your voice as a photographer you have to know what’s important for you. It may be beauty, nature and life, the deconstruction of shape, social issues, or art. And this means you have to learn about people and their problems, nature and wildlife, physics and mathematics, aesthetics, and philosophy. You have to resolve the philosophy of your life before you can be able to give something back to your public. Learn from each experience you have and each picture you take. Learn to observe and feel.
Find a subject matter of interests
Photograph different subjects until you find the one that catches your attention. Most photographers know very quickly what subject matter they like. Masters of photography usually have thematic portfolios and focus on a single subject matter such as landscape, portraits, fashion, documentaries, and street life.
Decide what message is important for you and why. You may want to raise awareness about environmental issues or share the beauty of nature. Maybe you want to expose social differences or focus on style and aesthetics. Think about the story you want to tell and focus on the ways you can do it. It’s better to have things clear in your head before taking pictures.
Create a series of pictures with a narrative flow
When you know what subject matter interests you and what message you want to convey to your public, start creating a homogenous series of pictures. Build strong narratives, with location, plot, and characters. Consider the first and the last images representative for your series. Think of how you would arrange the images in an exhibition, what size would they be, and write a statement for each series. Use a single aspect ratio and editing style for the entire series. Get involved and learn all you can about your subject, whether you photograph ants, sunsets, or the streets of London.
Finding the inner voice as a photographer is a personal matter. You can study the work of famous photographers that inspire you but you won’t find answers in their work or biography. You can only find answers in yourself and your own story. Don’t try too hard to be unique. Just try to be yourself.
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