FINDING YOUR STYLE By Younes Bounhar

Today we have a guest post by Younes Bounhar a talented photographer and writer from Canada. For more information on Younes visit his website and blog.

© Younes Bounhar

A quick glance on any photography forum and you will soon realize that while there are a few photographers who have a clear identifiable style, most photographs are very similar as if cooked in the same pot. As in every discipline, most enthusiasts start out by trying to emulate the work of the great masters. That often translates into copying the style, the compositions even the locations (ever heard the expression “tripod holes”?) that these masters have, well, mastered. However, as you delve deeper into your art, you start wondering where you should go with your photography after you have photographed your favourite icons and followed the footsteps of the Muenchs, Wolfes or Rowells of this world. Even from a professional standpoint, given the intense competition in the field, how do you set yourself apart from the next photographer? So how do you develop your own, unique style? While there is no magic solution or standard answer, here is a little food for thought to help point you in the right direction.

© Younes Bounhar

1-    Study the work of other artists

You are probably, wondering what on earth I am talking about since I have just said that you have to try and develop your own style. First, when I talk about artists, I mean it in a general sense, not just photographers, but painters, architects and designers. Painters can teach you how they handle light, what makes a good composition. Architects will show you the power of curves, lines and patterns. In the work of designers you can learn how to combine colours to convey your message. By getting acquainted with the work of other artists, you will seamlessly incorporate some of the elements that they use into your own photographs and have a more deliberate and controlled approach to your art.

© Younes Bounhar

2-    Get off the beaten path

As a landscape photographer, I often find myself drawn to the so-called “photographic icon”. Who hasn’t dreamt of shooting Mesa Arch, Antelope Canyon or Horseshoe bend? While these icons for obvious reasons, our planet has no shortage of stunning, photogenic locations. While most photographers are content with “roadside” photo opportunities, the most rewarding locations are those that are seldom visited or secluded. In addition to coming out with some unique shots, you also get to experience nature at its best. There is nothing more rewarding than waking up in the middle of nowhere, knowing that there is just you and Mother Nature around.

© Younes Bounhar

3-    Try something different

When I first dabbled into photography all I cared about was landscape, all I shot was landscape. Since I don’t live in photo icon hotzone, I quickly spent the photogenic potential of my area and found myself out of new things to photograph. My next decision proved to be instrumental in developing my skills. As I have better access to urban zones, I thought that I could shoot buildings and urban areas in a self-imposed assignment to improve my eye for lines and patterns. Not only have I discovered an exciting area of photography, but the skills I learned photographing buildings have been central to my landscape/nature photography as well. As I become more apt at capturing patterns in buildings, it became easier to see and frame photo opportunities in nature. That said, you don’t have to change disciplines to “try something different”. All you need to do is get slightly out of your comfort zone, and learn to see the world differently. If you shoot wide-angle scenics exclusively, trade your wide-angle lens for your telephoto or macro lenses and aim for more intimate nature photography. Inversely, if you are more at ease with a telephoto, trade it for a wide-angle.

© Younes Bounhar

4-    Break the rules

One of the main drivers of uniformity in photographs is our tendency to want to follow rules. Obviously, these rules exist for a reason and do come in handy at times. That said, you have to learn to think outside of the box if you want to take your photography to another level. Your gut tells you to use the rule of thirds? Don’t listen and put your horizon right in the middle. The magic hour only happens at dawn and dusk, right? Does that mean you can’t take amazing shots during the remaining 23 hours of the day? Certainly not! I have seen amazing pictures taken right at noon, others, in the middle of the night. Basically, just keep your mind open for possibilities and don’t restrict yourself simply because it is a “rule”.

5-    Take photography workshops

I have been very fortunate to attend an Art Wolfe workshop a few months ago and I have to admit that it has had a tremendous impact on my approach to photography. Again, the idea here is not to go out there and replicate everything your instructor does or tells you. Instead, you should watch and listen carefully to the way he or she approaches their art. It can be really an eye-opening experience when you are looking at a scene that inspires you nothing, and have someone come in and show you five or six different ways to look at it! You may not like everything you are told; in fact, you could even dismiss some of it. However, back on the field, once on your own, you can surprise yourself identifying photo opportunities that you wouldn’t have noticed before.

While I hope these pointers may have been of some help, there is one last element I would like to stress: just remember why you are into this in the first place and make sure you enjoy what you do. Keep the passion alive, and you are sure to succeed in whatever you set your mind to!

15 Responses to “FINDING YOUR STYLE By Younes Bounhar”

  1. Art Wolfe says:

    FINDING YOUR STYLE By Younes Bounhar: Today we have a guest post by Younes Bounhar a talented photographer and wri… http://bit.ly/aKu4JH

  2. Bom artigo com belas fotos – RT @artwolfe: FINDING YOUR STYLE By Younes Bounhar: http://bit.ly/aKu4JH

  3. Beate says:

    A great post! And as another former workshop participant I can completely agree with point 5. It was an eye-opening experience for me. As to point 4, I think it was Ansel Adams who said: “There are no rules for good photographs, only good photographs.” Know the rules, but don’t be afraid to break them.

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  5. Jack Johnson says:

    Great article, Younes! This is something I continue to struggle with, and it’s nice to get a gentle reminder from time to time that I’m not alone, and that it’s worth the effort!

    – Jack

  6. Great stuff! I’m trying hard to kind of find my own style, trying to see the world in a new way, thinking out of the box. It seems so easy when reading about it on the net, but it’s completely different when out in the field. But progress is made, thanks to articles like this!

  7. A great article written with a broad outlook and open mind. I strongly agree with all your suggestions (surprisingly ?) !
    I happened to read somewhere, learn all the rules and then forget them.
    Jagdeep Rajput

  8. Hagen says:

    Younes, you have captured and articulated a tremendous amount of insight into one post. Getting off the beaten path and trying something different are, and probably will be, and definitely should be, personal challenges (to some degree) for each one of us our whole lives. Thank you.

    As you mentioned, we all see the iconic images and wish we could have been there or go there to get those shots. We forget what is near (familiarity breeds…) is exotic to someone from far away.

    -Hagen

    PS Younes probably wouldn’t toot his own horn so I will: Younes hosts his own custom workshops including an Arctic Cruise in conjunction with PhotoLife Magazine

  9. […] have to share a recent post that Younes Bounhar guest blogged for Art Wolfe. It renewed my faith for finding a vision of my own. Having recently decided to give photography a […]

  10. Vale la pena dedicar unos minutillos a este artículo. Muy instructivo: FINDING YOUR STYLE By Younes Bounhar http://bit.ly/dygmbf

  11. Reading FINDING YOUR STYLE By Younes Bounhar from @artwolfe http://bit.ly/9y6y6q

  12. […] Wolfe had a great post by guest blogger Canadian photographer & writer Younes Bounhar called FINDING YOUR STYLE. In it, Bounhar offers five tips to help any photographer – professional, hobbyist or […]

  13. […] have to share a recent post that Younes Bounhar guest blogged for Art Wolfe. It renewed my faith for finding a vision of my own. Having recently decided to give photography a […]

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