📸 Skai Chan Photography

Photography Shooting Style

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

While it takes me quite some time to get a clear picture of what shooting 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 people usually set very low budget to engage a photographer.

When you present two works, side by side, in front of a newbie, he or she is probably able to tell which is a better work. However, the person is likely unable to tell what are the differences.

  1. Choice of lens
    Every camera lens has its own characteristics. There are both zoom and prime lenses. 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 photo. Think of using a normal lens and a fisheye lens and you probably can tell they produce very different effects.
  2. Distance of shoot
    Or rather, it is the distance between the photographer and model. Some photographers love to be more intimate while others prefer to give some "privacy" or "breathing space" to the model. Some photographers also prefer to do closed up shoot. This is directly related to the choice of lens and composition as well.
  3. 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.
  4. Angle of camera
    Some photographers prefer to shoot from a lower angle to give a more muscular feel to the model while some like to help the model lose some weight by shooting from a higher angle. Therefore, some photographers may go to the extreme by bringing a ladder along, and of course, he probably has at least an assistant to help him to carry the gears.
  5. Angle of light
    Angle of light can play a big part to "slimming" down the model. It also gives different feel. This is why some horror movies have light shining upwards from the bottom of the scary objects.
  6. 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 shooting time for outdoor shoots while studio shoots can be very flexible.
  7. Posing of model
    Some photographers want their models to pose like a professional models while some prefer free-and-easy style.
  8. 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. None is the perfect personality, but different persoanlity 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 shoot.
  9. Outfits of model
    Some photographers prefer their models to wear sexier clothes while some prefer outfits that are more stylish or cute. A few photographers even "recycle" same clothes over and over again.
  10. 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.
  11. Colour tone
    Different cameras and lenses have different colour tones. Different photographers will also edit these setting inside photoshop as accordingly to what they want. Different photographers have their own preferences of setting the saturation, highlight and shadow.
  12. Processing of photo
    Apart from the basic editing, many photographers love to add blurness to their models' faces to make them look "smoother". The more blurness means the model's face will look more plastic-like and thus different photographers have their own preferences to the level of blurness to be added.

There are many variations that make up the personal style of a photographer. Both the physical shoot and post-production work together to give the feel that a photographer wants. Therefore, every photographer is unique. If you ever try to suggest editing the photos for a photographer, it can be insulting to him.

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.

As I gain more experience, I'm beginning to develop my own style as well. However, I'm still trying to expose to more styles and there is still a long way for me to go. Unfortunately, I'm limited by equipment. I also believe in different shooting styles will suit different scenerios, especially for portraiture photography, and thus, do expect surprises from me.

You may be interested in:
- Crazy things that professional portrait photographers do
- How to judge a photographer
- Photography post-production (editing)
- Quality and quantity of photographs - contributing factors
- Differences between professional and casual portrait photoshoots

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