I distinctly remember how I felt when I found myself at the point in my photography journey when I began to really think about the concept of “voice” in my images.
I struggled with it a great deal and remember thinking, “am I supposed to be saying something with my images?” My initial thought was that I was just supposed to be taking beautiful photographs. I never really thought much about my ability to say something to my viewers with my images but I quickly realized that my photography was missing an important element, my unique voice.
1. Ask yourself, “what do I find interesting?”
I list this as number one, because it is incredibly pivotal to finding your voice. It is impossible to say anything at all if you are not inherently interested in what you have to say and how you want to say it. Every photographer is different and we all have something that we are interested in that makes us and our work unique.
I stumbled upon my interest in dance photography while watching my daughter dance and I quickly realized that I could portray something that I was feeling through capturing it. Now, as an artist, I prefer to keep many of my images open to interpretation and I love it when I find out that my images strike a chord in my viewer. I use the movement of the dancer and the way I shape the light around her to get an emotion across to the viewer.
2. Shoot often, if not every day
Shooting every day forces you to explore how you see intuitively. I often walk into a room and am struck by a scene and instantly know that I have to capture it. It can be the light, the moment, the composition or something else that draws me in, but I know that when I get that feeling it is my intuition guiding my art. Intuition is that little voice inside you that says, “I want to capture that and this is how I want to capture it.” Every photographer will see the very same scene in a unique way. Through shooting every day, you will learn to intuitively photograph what speaks to you.
3. Get out of your head and shoot from your heart
Often we get stuck in thinking too much about what we should be shooting and we forget to shoot what we love. It’s very easy to get stuck in a creative rut when you begin to focus on what you might think others would want to see from you. I know this all too well and often feel like this is common for photographers who are in business with clients. It is a sure fire way to stunt not only your voice, but also your creativity. Your photography must come from the heart. Not everyone will love your work and that is okay. Clients will not always resonate with your voice either. But as you are finding your voice it is important to stay true to who you are and what speaks to you. Clients will come to you because your work speaks to them. Trust that!
4. Avoid the perfectionist trap
When we are first learning the technical aspects of photography, we are very focused on getting our technique down and that is important. Learning how to properly expose, focus, frame etc. are all incredibly important rules to understand. In fact, when you understand the rules well, you will be able to break them with purpose. I promise that there will come a point in your photography journey when you will push the rules to find your voice and it’s truly in that moment when you feel a bit of artistic elation. You may find that intentionally breaking the rules is exactly what you needed to get your intention across to the viewer and awaken a creativity in your soul.
5. Feed your soul
Listen to music, read a book, dance, eat delicious food, meditate, practice yoga, ride a bike, go for a walk. It will be different for everyone, because everyone has a different way of connecting to the world. We live in a stressful world and it is easy to get so wrapped up in schedules and deadlines that we begin to lose ourselves a bit. When doing anything creatively, I find it is impossible to connect to your intuition when stuck in the business of life. I believe intuition is the ultimate guide in any art form. It may seem flippant, but make a promise to yourself to feed your soul. It is then, and only then, that you will begin to find what speaks to you and be able to share it with the world. The world needs your unique voice.