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Real Talk: Choosing a Photographer Based On Editing Styles

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Have you ever noticed how different photographers tend to devote loyalty to vastly different image styles? Trends in photography styles come and go so quickly, it seems. Right now, you have styles that are as different as day and night (quite literally). Dark and moody style vs. light and airy style is the most popular debate amongst photography lovers today.

To Photographers:

I personally believe there is no right or wrong way to create artistic images for clients. As long as the client loves your style, it does not matter what other photographers say or think about it!

We are in an industry that lends to a lot of comparison temptation. But that is honestly the quickest way to burnout and discouragement! If you find you struggle a lot with comparison in your art, I encourage you to unfollow all photography accounts on social media, and instead begin following your clients/potential clients.

Focus on them, and what they love about their lives. What is important to them? How does your photography service fulfill that need or cater to that value? Is your brand serving your ideal client? And do your clients love your work as is, or do you find yourself becoming a style chameleon just to book people?

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To Clients/Potential Clients:

Book photographers whose work you already love! Aim for the ability to picture yourself in their images and their Instagram feed. If you prefer a photographer shoots light and airy, then find a light and airy photographer. If you like the earthy tones of dark and moody, book that photographer.

Don’t go to your friend building his/her business and ask them to shoot in a style you prefer, while they are still trying to find their unique style.

I had a client inquiry this past spring for an engagement session. I had not yet booked an engagement session, and I was at a point in my business where I wondered if anyone ever would book me that year! Things were SUPER slow. So when this lead came in, I jumped through hoops to make it happen.

I got as far as requesting the retainer fee for their date, when they asked the question that made my heart sink… “Oh… you don’t shoot light and airy?”

I had so many thoughts swirling before I could answer. How are they only now finding out what my style looks like? Did they even see my work before booking me? I thought my work was light and airy. If it’s not, what is my style really like? How do people see my work? Does anyone like my style? Am I failing at this? Is my work even good? Should I change? How do I change?

That lead turned into a dropped booking, but by the time I was able to stop myself from the endless cycle of insecure thoughts, I was happy to let that one go. I want my clients to love my work, the way it is right when they decide to book. Not how it used to look, or how it could look in the future, or how it looks for other photographers.

I want to be booked for ME. For my skills and for my personality. I want to connect with my clients, and the things I connect most with my clients over are the things we are passionate about. For me, that’s my photography business and the life I am trying to build with it — the dream I have of sitting in a home office working on a gallery edit until kids are home from school and a husband comes home from work. For my clients, it’s usually their own families… the new chapters of life that excite them and get them out of bed in the morning.

I love working with those clients because they are living the life I look forward to! They get me excited about where this business could take me, and they get excited that my business helps them document their sweet storybook chapters.

When clients are the cheerleaders and motivators of my dream, then my business thrives and my service and skill improves for them. So, you clients and potential clients out there… keep booking those photographers whose work you fell in love with. You are an essential part of the ecosystem, feeding into their creativity by lifting them up and allowing them to serve the people they love to work with.

My Style

My style is still evolving as I gain experience. There are certain goals I shoot for in my shooting and editing.

  • I want it to look realistic. That means colors are not too extreme or neon. I aim for natural skin tones and bright colors that look similar to how they did the day of the shoot.
  • I want it to evoke happiness. I shoot a little brighter, sometimes warmer temperatures to feel like you can feel the sunshine of that scene. I want it to give my clients a warm, fuzzy feeling when they look at those images.
  • I want my subjects to be the main focus. I use a little more contrast than most light and airy photographers because I don’t want my clients to blend into a matte background. This is about their story, so they should pop out of the image, as though they could close their eyes and relive the moment all over again.
  • I want to shoot authentically. I try to create duplicate experiences to what they felt when we had our session. If my clients were feeling goofy and giggly during their session, I want to make sure to capture them laughing and have images with plenty of movement, so they feel and remember that joyful feeling every time they look back at the photos. I’m not going to try to get them to give me too many soft, romantic poses to calm them down. Vice versa, if a couple is more shy and quiet, I’ll emphasize the softer, still poses.

My images will improve with time, and my editing process will always be changing incrementally to achieve the look I want and my clients love. But those four goals will always be the same in my style. How I achieve them may look different, but the important thing for me is that I DO achieve them.

As photographers, be sure to find the core values that you want your brand to communicate and provide for your clients, then edit in such a way that aligns with that. Clients, if a photographer’s images make you feel happy and excited for your session, that’s a great sign that you’re the right fit for them, as much as they are for you.

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