Why You Should Define Your Photographic Identity

Do you wonder why you are unable to create consistent series of photos?

Do you always recognize the signature of some photographers who inspire you, and wish others could do the same with your photos?

If you are asking yourself these questions, you may not have taken the time to define your photographic identity.

I will give you some directions that will allow you to create nature photos that will be identifiable and recognizable.

This article will help you understand how to implement a new tool in your photography toolbox. By implementing it, you will make your photos even more interesting and instill in them true meaning.

Spatule blanche en contre-jour photographiée depuis un affût flottant en Dombes.
Eurasian Spoonbill in backlight photographed from a floating blind in La Dombes in France.

The Main Symptoms of the Lack of a Photographic Identity

In addition to the symptoms mentioned in the first lines of this article, the one that is most obvious is “I do not know how and what to do".

This symptom often occurs in the field during a photo session. You may be armed with good intentions. You may have prepared for your session with the proper materials and have several ideas in mind. However, once on the ground, you do not know how to approach the scene, for example, you may struggle with photographing a deer from 100 meters in such a way that it stands like a symbol of time passing, or you may not know how to capture a breathtaking dawn so that it seems immortal.

When you take pictures without the satisfaction of consistency, you miss this little plus that provides photographers with a unique photographic signature. When they are on the ground, they know exactly what they are going to accomplish, and they successfully complete their goals.

This is what I call the principle of photographic identity

What Is Photographic Identity?

When you look at the photographs of a photographer you like and who inspires you, it is because he has developed two essential elements:

  • A photographic vision.
  • A photographic style.

The establishment of these two elements allow him to be identifiable, to be recognized among hundreds of other photographers.

The vision and the photographic style give meaning to his artistic activity.

There may be other photographers whose photographic approach you do not appreciate, who can still be named because of their photographic identity. Is not this photographic approach essential to success?

It is important to note that having your own photographic identity allows you to be differentiated without confusion from other photographers.

To best summarize the photographic identity, I say that it gives the photographer an existence in his field of work.

Defining your photographic identity will allow you to say who you are, what you want to be, and how you are to be perceived by others. This should be apparent to each viewer, regardless of whether they are a photographer or not.

Your photographic identity will define how you will be perceived by the world around you.

Defining your photographic identity allows you to list all the artistic data that individualizes your artistic approach.

It's a bit like your administrative identity combined with your physical characteristics, such as your date and place of birth.

A photographic identity allows you to reveal yourself, to stand out among the crowd of photographers, to ensure your individuality and your irreplaceable artistic fingerprint.

The Impact of a Photographic Identity

The etymology of the word identity comes from the Latin "idem” which meant the same.

The main impact of a high-quality photographic identity is that it allows you to create series of nature photographs that are coherent and consistent. Once on the field, you will not jumble your ideas and projects, moreover, you will focus on specific shooting goals in exactly one direction.

You will understand why you are creating your photographs. When you have your camera in your hands, you will constantly refer to the values of your photographic identity when capturing shots.

Your photographic identity is not just an image you want to give to others. It also defines your actions in the present and/or in the past.

In this article, I defined photographic writing. It can be considered one of those actions that would be an extension of who you are.

The First Element of a Photographic Identity: Your Photographic Vision

Defining your photographic vision is much more than defining your goals in photography.

Your photographic vision is your course of action. It gives you reasons to go on the field to create photographs.

If you define your artistic vision well, you will answer the essential question that is often asked: "Why do you practice photography?".

For example, in my case, I invariably answer " I practice photography to share and reveal my passion for the wonders of nature".

If you do not yet have a clear and consistent photographic vision of your photographic activity, I can only encourage you to define it as quickly as possible.

My method is simple. Just take a sheet of paper and a pencil to write down all the ideas that come to mind. I do not recommend the computer. On paper, you can sketch, make diagrams, and organize ideas. In this situation of introspective brainstorming, the computer is not practical.

On this piece of paper, list everything you like to do during your photo sessions. Simply list the ideas of what you like and also what you do not like. It is almost as if you're listing your strengths and weaknesses.

At this stage, do not write long sentences. Just align your ideas.

For example, you can write ideas such as «contemplate nature », « listen to the silence », « observe the animals », « listen to the wind in the trees», « watch the fish swim », « immerse in a mood». Nature offers a multitude of sensations that are visual, gustatory, olfactory, tactile or auditory. The catalog of ideas can be long. But during this phase, do not hesitate.

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Order your ideas by personal preference from the favorite idea at the top of the list to the least favorite at the bottom.

Once all the ideas have been consolidated and organized, the next step is taking the three strongest ideas and stringing them together in a sentence. This will express why you chose photography as a creative activity. This defines your vision.

The definition of your photographic vision is never final. The general idea will remain invariable in time, but the wording will change. The words will evolve because your vision will be refined over time, much like life. With experience, age, and maturity, your photographic vision will clearly be refined and simplified to achieve a deeply authentic definition of your photographic personality.

Even if you are not completely satisfied with the sentence that defines you, do not worry. You have taken a decisive step in your photographic activities. You have to start someday with something. By this point, you have made the most difficult decisions, and the rest will fall into place.

The consequence of a clear and well- defined photographic vision is that you fear it will vanish suddenly. It is important to keep in mind that the object of your vision is a powerful engine for creativity. When you want to create a photo, you have all the elements to guide you in the process: composition, framing, etc.

The Second Element of Your Photographic Identity: Your Photographic Style


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