Why I don't "Follow" other Photographers/Designers
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I'm excited to blog about two questions that have been brought up frequently in my years as a photographer/designer and will be brought up in yours too if it hasn't been already. The questions are these, "What photographers/designers do you follow? Where do you get your inspiration?"
When I first began taking photos, I remember bingeing on Pinterest and blog articles that had anything to do with photography and design. It was important for me to find the perfect look for my stuff.
For Photography, I would refresh my style and start editing my photos to look similar to one photographer and then low and behold, a couple days later I would find a new photographers style that I liked and change up the whole thing.
In design I would pretty much just go on Pinterest and make (or "borrow" as we designers call it) literally anything I saw that appealed to me. I would have really organic designs and then suddenly develop a taste for geometric. Sadly not only did this effect my design style but also my brand which is very counter productive for a starting business. A BIG NO!
What ended up happening was that my portfolio started looking like a collage from fifty different photographers and designers. It couldn't really reflect my style because, let's face it, I did't have one. Some days I would love something bright and vivid and the next I would love something vintage and film-like, I'd use organic shapes...and then I would go geometric. It wasn't until I stopped "following" other photographers that I found the style I wanted to shoot, edit, and design in. I found MY OWN STYLE.
Now, lets clear up some things. I still go on Pinterest to get some inspiration and collect ideas, and I still read photography and design articles about tips and tricks of the trade. But I am careful of the amount of influence I let other like-businesses have on my work. Why? Because if you take the time to develop your own brand/style in the beginning and set up boundaries to stay in as you grow your business...you will love your own style more than anyone elses.
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There are also other ways to address this problem. I remember in college one of my friends told me of a photographer with a similar problem and instead of cutting out of following photographers altogether she just picked three that complimented her own style and gleaned knowledge from just them.
1. Make yourself a mood board (or hire someone to brand you and create a brand guide). It will be full of typography selections, textures, patterns, colors, and other inspirations to make sure you stay within the perimeters of your brand.
2. Select a couple photographers/designers that inspire you and be selective about what you "follow" after them.
3. Follow professionals with similar styles/interests, that way when they do something that interests you, you can incorporate those elements into your own business without a striking opposition.
4. Set up filters in your software that represent your style and only use variations of that filter. (Lightroom is awesome at this)
5. Pre-make design elements and collect design inspiration that ONLY compliments your existing brand.
6. When you see something new that you want to try - DON'T completely revamp your business. Use it as a small project or series to share with your followers.
7. If you aren't to the branding stage yet but you want to start somewhere, make a list of words that describe your business and style - keep them in mind as you develop.
8. Get a second opinion (ONLY to make sure your stuff is looking consistent)