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Different Types of Photography Styles

When I was new to portraiture photography, or rather, photography, I could not understand what was photography style. I thought the purpose of holding a camera was only to snap pictures and make sure the models look nice inside them. As I took up more photography projects and observed more pictures taken by other photographers (of all kinds of quality), I began to develop understanding to it.

While it takes me quite some time to get a clear picture of what photography style is all about, I can't blame non-photographers for belittling photographers since they are probably thinking photography is simply as easy as pressing a shutter button. This is probably the reason why many people set very low budget to hire a photographer.

When you present two pictures side by side, in front of a newbie, he or she may be able to tell which is a better work; however, the person is likely unable to tell the differences.

There are many options/choices when doing a photoshoot:

  1. Pace of photoshoot
    This is how fast the photoshoot will be done, and it can be fast or slow. Photographers who do fast pace photoshoot are usually using natural light, such that the entire photoshoot can be sped up. On the other hand, photographers who use artificial light usually work on a slower pace because it takes time to set up the professional lighting equipment and test light every now and then. Photographers who prefer to shoot everything correctly on the spot will also tend to take up more time.
  2. Choice of camera
    Most professional photographers would use either a full frame or cropped body DSLR. A full frame DSLR is usually more expensive and has its advantages over the quality of pictures and in low light situation. Cropped body DSLR has a larger focus length when being attached with the same lens.
  3. Choice of lens
    Every camera lens has its own characteristics. There are both zoom and prime lenses (and others). The differences in aperture number can affect the bokeh (background blur) effect a lot and also the quantity of light. Whether it is a wide angle, standard or zoom lens, it gives different feel to the image. Try looking through a normal lens and a fisheye lens, and you can probably tell that they produce very different effects.
  4. Distance of shoot
    I'm referring to the distance between the photographer and model. Some photographers love to have a closer distance with their models for easier communication while others prefer to give some "privacy" or "breathing space" to the model. Some photographers also prefer to take closed up photographs. This is directly related to the choice of lens and composition as well.
  5. Composition
    Some photographers love keeping their models more to the left or right of the frame. Some photographers play well with leading lines or including of objects as frames. Some photographers prefer having a clean background while some love including more scenery into the background.
  6. Angle of camera
    Some photographers prefer to shoot from a lower angle to give a more muscular feel to the model while some photographers like to help the model "lose some weight" by shooting from a higher angle. Therefore, some photographers may go to the extreme of bringing a ladder along, and of course, he probably has at least an assistant to help him to carry the gears.
  7. Angle of light
    Angle of light can play a big part to "slimming" down the model. It also gives different moods to the photographs. This is why some horror movies have light shining upwards from the bottom of the scary objects.
  8. Quality of light
    While most photographers prefer using soft light, some prefer harsh light. This is also the reason why some photographers are very insistent in the timing (golden hours) for doing outdoor photoshoots, while studio photography can be very flexible.
  9. Posing of model
    Some photographers want their models to pose like a professional models while some prefer freestyle/ lifestyle. Some photographers guide the models verbally while some make physical contacts.
  10. Personality and interaction with model
    Every photographer has his own unique personality, which the model can feel before and during the photoshoot. Some photographers are playful while some are more firm. Different personality will eventually affect the model's mood and create different feel to the final photos. Some models can work better under stress while some prefer to "merry" around during the photoshoot.
  11. Outfits of model
    Some photographers are insistent in selecting the outfits while some may allow the models to make their own decisions.
  12. Exposure/ brightness
    Some photographers prefer their models' faces to be well lighted while some prefer to keep faces slightly darker for certain mood. Brightness of background and other subjects inside the photos matter a lot as well.
  13. Colour tone
    Different cameras and lenses create different colour tones. Photographers will edit these setting inside photoshop as accordingly to what they want. Different photographers have their own preferences of setting the saturation, highlight and shadow etc.
  14. Post-Production of photographs
    Some photographers don't do any editing at all and some do only basic enhancement. Some photographers may add excessive blurriness to their models' faces to make them look "smoother". Since blurriness will make the model's face look more plastic-like, different photographers have their own preferences to the level of blurriness to be added. There are some photographers who have very unique ways to process the photos by adding their own colour tones, such that viewers find the photos attractive without really fantastic lighting. There are also photography companies who have preset settings (colour tone), such that the post-production work can be done by different people and yet the "feel" of every album is similar.

There are many variations that make up the personal photography style of a photographer. Both the actual photoshoot and post-production come together to give the mood that the photographer wants, creating the style of the photographs; therefore, every photographer is unique.

As I gain more experience, I've developed my personal photography style as well. However, my photography style may sometimes be affected by the requirements of every photography project.

You may be interested in:
- Casual portrait photoshoot photographer in Singapore
- Crazy things that professional portrait photographers do
- How to judge a photographer
- Post production - photo editing (enhancing, retouching)
- Quality and quantity of photographs - contributing factors
- Differences between high-end and casual portrait photography

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