unsplash-logoKinga Cichewicz

What makes your favorite images “pop”? What helps you recognize the work of some of the most emblematic photographers of the century? How is it that two almost identical images in terms of subject, lighting, and composition can look so different?

The answer is simple:style.

As an artist, you were likely drawn to photography because you have something to say with your work and your style is thex factorthat makes your work unique. It’s the thing that seperates a good photograph from a great one. And doing that consistently, is what separates good photographers from great photographers.

So, what is a style and how do I get it?

Style is what makes your work recognizable at first glance. It’s not something you will magically obtain one day or something you can decide you want to have: it’s the result of a never-ending process of developing and refining, job after job, shoot after shoot.

Every photographer has been faced with the decision of whether to go with past preferences – the things we know that work – or experimentation – the techniques we’d love to try out but we’re not sure what the result may bring. With every photo you take, you need to make a ton of decisions; technical decisions such as aperture, shutter speed, or white balance. Artistic decisions like poses, composition and angles. These are all opportunities for you to play with. Every time you decide to experiment and you like the result, the choice will become a preference.

As you evolve, you begin to apply your preferences subconsciously rather than something you ‘force’ onto your images. Your preferences accumulate, complementing each other and culminating into the elusive goal: your own unique photographic style.

There is no silver bullet, but if you’re struggling and unsure how to begin discovering your personal photography style, here is some practical advice to help you get started:

Hone your technical skills

Any amazing image, whether it’s a drawing, painting or a photograph, is the result of a harmonious marriage between the eye and the hand. Your eye is what tells you what you want to achieve and the hand is the means by which you create it. You must have good hands (technical skills), if you are ever going to satisfy the eye.

This cannot be emphasized enough. Even if your style emerges subconsciously, it is still a product of your technical skills and expertise.

While there are a myriad of technical skills that you need to be aware of (and there seems to be more every day with the advancement of equipment), there is no skill more important for a photographer than mastering light: photo comes from the Greek word phos, which means light.

You should not only be familiar but possess a strong knowledge of how exposure works, what the effects of lighting on different shots can be. Learn how to “read” light – you need to intuitively know how, for instance, backlighting might affect the image (by causing overexposing, loss of contrast or a flare), how short-lighting can transform the figure of your subject and so on. These technical aspects can make a world of a difference in your work.

The key to mastering your technical skills is repetition and analysis. With time, this skill will become second nature, something you can do automatically without even having to think about it: this will free up cognitive resources which you can lend to experimentation.

Your equipment should not define your style, knowing how to use it should

Some photographers are gear heads and are infatuated with these wonderful instruments that truly seem magical. However, it is usually a mistake to rely on your equipment to define your style. In the end, they are means and not the end in themselves.

Whatever your equipment consists of, the key to becoming a better photographer and achieving what is in your mind’s eye, is mastering the technical limitations of your tools and figuring out strategies to compensate for them. For instance, there are cameras that might be better at capturing details in the highlights than in the shadows. This might mean you need to settle for slightly over-exposed images to compensate for the gear’s particular limits. Again, practice and experimentation are key to understanding this. Resist the urge to buy new equipment to further your quest in developing your style – it’s likely that your equipment is not the thing holding you back.

Get inspired and then become inspiring

We all need inspiration and nothing happens in a vacuum. Maybe you’re inspired by a certain color pallette, architectural elements, geometric shapes or by specific locations. While we all seek to find our own unique style, the truth is you will probably, at one time or another, emulate another person’s work that you find inspiring. That is perfectly ok, especially when you’re getting started. It’s a process. And once you start successfully imitating another’s work, you will be learning a whole lot along the way. You will be finding your voice while reciting someone else’s. You will be building confidence in your skills and when enough time has past, you, like every other artist before you, will have developed your own preferences and just like that your voice will begin to emerge and express itself.

The thing to remember along the way, is to be analytical. Ask yourself why you are drawn to another’s work and learn how to analyze what makes it good. Learn how to speak about art. And if you continue to hone your skills and your voice, eventually you will become an inspiration for other artists.

Take chances and push yourself

Most artists always set out to make the perfect image but sometimes you take the perfect image – completely by accident. The best way to create these happy accidents is to put yourself in situations that encourage them. Try pushing yourself to work outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to work with a certain lens or just one light and this can yield some of your most interesting work. If you’re open to failure and analytical you’ll be able to discover small successes and perhaps big accidents that you can recreate and add to your arsenal of techniques that will help you define your unique style.

While researching this article I discovered, Josh S Rose, and in particular the following two articles of his. I believe this is some of the best writing about art and photography I have ever read. I bet you’ll enjoy it as well:



Proofpix - Client galleries and studio management



How to gain new clients for your photography business

Even if you’ve just started your photography business, you probably already know the struggle of finding new clients.

Worry not! Gaining new clients is a challenging step but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. We’ve gathered some of the most helpful tips and tricks to help you start your photography business on the right foot:


Figure out your target

The key to gaining new clients is knowing who – and what – to look for. To help define your target, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who would pay for my service?

  • Who has already bought from me?

  • What do my friends and peers think?

  • How will I sell my product or service?

  • What assumptions am I making about my target that may be wrong?

Once you have a clearer picture of who your target is, it should be easier to:

  • know what channels to use to reach them

  • establish branding that will appeal to them

  • construct the products and services you think they will appreciate

  • price your products and services accordingly

Build your book

Every professional photographer has had zero clients at one point. If this is you, your first step should be building your book. After all, it’s hard to gain new clients if you have no samples to offer them. The best way to do that is to tap into your friends and family network. Offer to do some free photo shoots and make sure you treat the whole experience as if it were a paying gig. This is also a fantastic opportunity to get feedback and learn from it.


Get online

It’s the 21st century: we don’t need to persuade you of the power of social media. If you don’t already have a photography website and a Facebook/Instagram page – create one! If you have a page, go through it and make sure it’s spotless. Get rid of everything that’s outdated, underwhelming or plain bad: as an artist, the aesthetic of your page speaks volumes about the quality of your work. Make sure your website is optimized for local and industry-specific keywords. SEO is not the most fun and can be quite time consuming, but done properly, it is a great way to drum up new business.

Focus on existing relationships

The good news for photography businesses, like yours, is that you don’t need a big marketing budget. To be successful you just need to deliver the best possible experience to your clients so that they will become your most valuable brand advocates. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective marketing strategies and when your clients are happy with the service you provided, they’re far more likely to spread the word to all their friends and family members!

Don’t forget to ask your customers to give you a written testimonial. Testimonials go a long way to building trust with future prospects. You can also offer referral discounts – say, $20 off their next photo session if they also refer a friend.

Stay in touch with your customers by emailing or better, sending them a handwritten note. Staying top-of-mind will definitely help them help you.

It’s also a good idea to reach out to vendors and venues. Send them some of your best photos of their work or space and tell them they can use it on their website or in their marketing. They will be super pleased with you and this positive relationship building will lead to more referrals.


Networking is a key skill in the photography world. Find yourself some photography buddies – they can be a great source of referrals. Sometimes they will be too busy to take on a job, or away on location and they may just hand you your dream project.

Make sure that your friends and family know you’re a photographer and actually looking for clients.

Post on local Facebook groups and make sure you leave pamphlets, flyers and business cards at places where your ideal clients are likely to visit.


Learn how to promote yourself

Social media is your best friend when it comes to building a client base. When it comes to the visual arts, Instagram is perhaps the most powerful tool. Make sure you profile yourself in the same way you profile your clients; if you only post photos of weddings, people are likely to believe you only offer wedding photography. Make sure to display your best images but also the ones that reflect your style best.

Another fantastic way to promote yourself and gain new clients is by blogging. A photographer is more than merely a service provider – your clients trust you to capture their most intimate moments and create shots that reflect their true personality. They want to know you and what better way to offer them a glimpse into who you are than by blogging about your skill and life? The added bonus is increased visibility and credibility: the winning strategy is making sure you showcase your work and skill and letting your clients get to know you.

Last but not least, get creative with your pricing. This doesn’t mean undercutting your fees but rather, running booking specials or offering discounts. Consider offering limited mini sessions (with fewer images included or without certain extras) and give your clients the option to buy more. You can also offer a free session in exchange for exposure. Make sure to ask your clients to spread the word and leave a review on your Facebook or Yelp page (preferably without saying that they got a free session out of it).

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Photo credit: Arali Melendez

You’ve just booked your first wedding and if you’re like most amateur wedding photographers, once the initial thrill and excitement fade, anxiety settles in. How are you going to handle photographing a place you’ve never seen before? What if you forget to take a shot of the bride and her favorite grandma? Do you really need a second shooter and should you have gotten that second camera after all?

Take a breather and relax: we’ve got you covered.

Make it legal

Before anything exciting happens, you need to establish a clear business agreement with your client andprotect yourself from liability with a signed, written contract. Contracts clearly state the expectations for the photographer and their client and also establish grounds for recourse should either party not fulfill their end of the agreement. Contracts also have the advantage of setting one's clients at ease.

A clearly laid out contract actually helps reduce stress and will be one less thing to worry about on the big day!

Develop a shot list

As tempted as you might be, don’t wing your first wedding. Preparation is key and the difference between the amateur and the pro is the shot list. Develop a well-curated list of around 20-25 “must-haves” and memorize it. This could be particularly helpful when taking family shots and ensures no one will feel left out.

Try to commit the list to memory – walking around with a piece of paper while you photograph the wedding doesn’t necessarily speak volumes about your professionalism. Flick through a couple of wedding magazines to get inspiration but make sure you develop a unique shot list – this will be your signature.

Have your gear handy

It’s also a good idea to have a list of the gear you’ll need during the big day. If you plan on taking macro photos of the couple’s rings, for instance, make sure you have your macro lens. Store each piece of equipment in a separate space in your bag to save time during the wedding.

Make sure you have plenty of spare memory cards or film, backup batteries, and equipment as well, and that the backups are accessible while you’re shooting.

Know your location

Make sure to research the reception and ceremony locations beforehand (the info should be in your contract). Look into photography policies – some churches and places of worship have strict rules about when and from where you can take photos. If there are any restrictions, communicate them to your clients well ahead of the wedding day to avoid any disappointments.

Research the lighting conditions and, if possible, visit the location beforehand. If you’re up for it, you can even do an in-person visit with the couple and take a few test shots. These will help you make sure the big day goes as smoothly as possible and will make for fantastic engagement photos!

Be there for the small details

Photo credit: Arali Melendez

Your shot list probably includes classics such as photos of the couple with their friends and relatives, as well as intimate shots of the vows and rings exchange. However, photographing the small details such as the back of dresses, shoes, flowers, and table settings can add an extra dimension to the wedding album.

Make sure to be bold but not obtrusive when photographing the wedding. If you need to move around to change your perspective, try to coincide this with the change of songs, or the sermons and longer readings. And, we’re sure we don’t need to tell you this – make sure you turn off the sound of your camera during the ceremony.

Master diffused light

One of the key skills you’ll need as a pro wedding photographer is knowing how to use diffused light. In most churches, the lighting conditions will be poor at best so the ability to bounce a flash or to diffuse it is of the essence.

Keep in mind that many churches won’t allow you to use a flash (it’s best to check in well in advance) and in that case, you’ll need to either use a fast lens at a wide aperture or increase the ISO. If you can use a flash, consider whether bouncing it is the best option and steer clear of colored surfaces as they will add a colored cast to the picture. If you want to soften the light, get a flash diffuser.

RAW is your friend

The RAW usually leads to extra processing which might not make it the most time-efficient option. However, if there’s one occasion where you should definitely consider going RAW is a wedding. The RAW mode offers much more flexibility when it comes to manipulating the shots after you’ve taken them, which could be a life-saver if you’re dealing with tricky lighting conditions.

Continuous shooting mode

Lots of things happen during a wedding and most of them happen fast which is why the continuous shooting mode is your best friend.

Perspective is all

Photo credit: Arali Melendez

Don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to angles and perspectives. Mix things up a little by kneeling down and taking a few shots from down low, or get up on a balcony to get an eagle eye’s POV. However, make sure the majority of the images in the album are formal poses – creativity is good but as with everything else, moderation is key.

Consider hiring an assistant

Even if this is not your first rodeo, hiring an assistant can help you a great deal. A photo assistant can carry and guard your gear so you can focus on following the couple around, and set up the equipment if you’re using lights or tripods. Additionally, a photography assistant can be invaluable in fixing the ‘little’ things – fluffing hair and smoothing trains – as well as making sure you stay hydrated.

Make sure to list the job requirements as clearly as possible – this includes the location and date of the wedding, as well as pay and how long do you anticipate the job will take.

An assistant can also help you with the emergency kit, and having one makes even the most hectic of weddings go smoothly. Pack up essentials like bobby pins, a small sewing kits, and baby wipes that will prove in handy when there’s a crisis, and consider larger items like makeup basics, first aid kit, lighters and a couple of rain ponchos.

Make your ego take a back seat

Remember that the day is not about you. Nothing will make a worse impression than showing your clients your stress or frustration. Your attitude will help set the tone and help your clients relax around the camera which makes for better pictures and better referrals!

A neat trick we’ve saved up for last is forcing a smile even if you don’t feel like it at first. Smiling can help you feel better (research has shown that even a fake smile boosts the level of the ‘happy’ hormone in your brain) and it will also put your subjects at ease so everyone can have a good time – and great photos to show for it.

And most of all deliver on your promises. Scott Evans ofscottevans.com, a 38 year wedding photographer veteran, offers this advice,

"There are no EXCUSES. You HAVE to be there on time or early EVERY TIME and you must deliver the product as necessary."

Relax and enjoy

Finally, make sure you don’t overstress before the big day. Weddings can be chaotic, that’s true, but they are also an amazing opportunity to share the joy and happiness and hone your photography skills.

Don’t try to be someone else, either – your clients will love you for the outstanding service and personal touch you offer, and showing them the real you bumps up the chances of them hiring you again!

Last but not least, have fun.

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Photo credit: Milkos

Nobody really likes dealing with the legal side of business transactions because they can be costly, hard to understand and let's face it, not much fun at all!

Professional photographers should always protect themselves from liability with a signed, written contract. Not only do contracts clearly set the expectations for the photographer and their clients, they also establish grounds for recourse should either party not fulfill their end of the agreement, making it much easier to pursue satisfaction in a court of law.

Contracts also have the advantage of setting one's clients at ease. A clearly laid out contract actually helps reduce stress and will be one less thing to worry about on the big day!

A good photography contract usually includes but is not limited to:

  • Customers name and contact information (both bride & groom or mother & father if possible)
  • Date & time of the event and a list of all the locations being used (perhaps list the time expected and the number of photographers being used at each one)
  • A detailed description of the services and pre-purchased products or packages to be supplied
  • A breakdown of fees including deposit and payment schedule and the type of payments you accept
  • Detailed description of usage rights
  • Model release
  • Legal jurisdiction (where will disputes be solved)
  • Signatures of all parties involved
We are pleased to announce that all paid Proofpix accounts now include digital contracts that can be signed on any device with either a mouse or with your finger on a mobile device. 

Our digital contracts can be saved as templates so you can re-use them over and over again with little fuss.

Contracts are easily emailed and follow-up emails are automatically sent to all parties whenever a signature is received so everyone is always aware of current status.

Once all signatures are received, the final pdf document is downloadable and encrypted with a digital signature so we can be sure that the copy any party possesses has not been altered.

We will be adding some common contract templates that our clients are free to use and tailor to their needs.

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We’ve been hard a work building a bunch a features and tools for high-volume photography.

Our latest feature, is a new type of event that was built for events that use the pre-pay model and do not require online proofing or selling after the event.

This Non-proofing event still allows you to upload your images for offline storage and allows you to track and fulfill all your orders.

But best of all, it works with our improved event forms which allow you to have customers,

pre-register, schedule a time and pre-pay for ANY service, package or item you want to sell them.

When your customer pre-purchases from a non-proofing event form, we apply shipping, taxes, order minimums and coupons and/or discounts at that time. This differs from our standard event forms which allow you to take pre-orders as well but assumes the user will come back after the event has been uploaded to complete their orders, so we wait to calculate the shipping, taxes and discounts until that time.

To create a non-proofing event, you simply choose Add Event > Add non-proofing event from the Event link in the main menu.