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Finding, Defining, and Marketing Your Photographic Style

Lesson 12 of 31

Style Cycle–Discovery: 4 Step Find it Formula: Choose

Julia Kelleher

Finding, Defining, and Marketing Your Photographic Style

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

12. Style Cycle–Discovery: 4 Step Find it Formula: Choose


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:42:05
2 What is Style? Duration:24:14
3 Where does Style Come From? Duration:11:14
4 The Style Cycle: Overview Duration:19:13
6 The Style Cycle: Discovery Duration:07:17
7 The Style Cycle: Realization Duration:05:26
8 The Style Cycle: Define Duration:06:47

Lesson Info

Style Cycle–Discovery: 4 Step Find it Formula: Choose

You're gonna choose three artists. Okay, so you're gonna search for artists, and you're gonna pick three artists, whose work totally resonates with you, that your work, you look at it, and you're like, "Oh, it's so beautiful." Every single image, like Vicky Papas Vergara does this for me. Every single image I look at her is like, "Ah, why do I love that?" 'Cause when you see Vicky's work, she does a lot of beautiful figure studies, nude figure studies, and high fashion stuff. She elongate the body and elevates it. I mean, just gorgeous, kind of very modern work. And I'm like, "Why do I like that?" 'Cause it's so not me. I would never shoot a high-fashion image like that. It's just not in my nature. But there's something about the quality of her work that just zings me. And it's the long lines, she uses fabric. Again, she uses these gorgeous fabrics and these handmade dresses that she actual creates in order to do the image, and something about it resonates me. So right now, and I just ...

discovered Vicky's work maybe a few months ago at WPPI, when she won all these awards, and I knew when I saw her work, I went, "Oh, my God, I need to know this artist more." And then I went on her site, and I'm like, "Oh, my gosh, this work is amazing." I'm like friending her on Facebook, and doing everything I can to know more of her work. But I still look at it as a body of work, I'm like, "Why do I like that? "What is it about it?" I would never copy her work, because I don't... It's not me, but there's something there that's drawing me in. So this whole process of discovering is why is that? Same with Richard's work, Richard Sturdevant, I mean he does war scenes. I'm not gonna do a war scene. But there's something about the way he does his work that draws me in. It's the layering, it's the complexity, it's the foreground, middle ground, background where I'm like, "Ah, how does he master that so well?" And for some reason, and there's lots of artists who can do that, for some reason Richard's work made me think about it. Does that make sense? Okay, the next step in the four step Find It Formula, is to choose. If you think that was hard, finding three artists, now I'm going to challenge you just a little bit more. From each artist's body of work, choose one image that is your all-time favorite. One, it's very hard, very hard to do. One image. The way I liken it is, "Would you buy it, "and put it on your wall, no matter how much it cost?" If you had the money, you know, If it was a $10,000 piece, would you buy it, and put it on your wall? Okay, with Heather Chin, when I was first discovering my style, this was the image. Now, she painted it. The original photography's by Lonnie Hoke. But she painted the image. And it was the painting that got me. What else do you think got me? The color. [Second Audience Member] Negative space. The color, the negative space, the stroke work, the flow, all of that. And we're gonna analyze this in the next step of the Find It Formula. But for now, what drew me in was the light, it's soft, but still very directional. Like, you know where that light is coming from, and then the way this melded into the background, it was like the dress became the background. That's what really like, that stroke work and brush work that she uses, and if you look carefully at the shadows, they are not gray. They are color. And you don't see that unless you go in close. They're like tones of yellow and cyan, and it's like, "Oh, shadows don't have to be gray, really? Of course not, they don't have to be gray. It's the line, it's the flow, it's the circular motion. I think you guys all see it. With Stanka this was the image that first got me, when I first started studying her work. And this is an older image. Okay, I say that with quotation marks around my fingers, air quotes, because technically, it's not that old. But what about this drew me in, here? Not the color. It's the emotion and the motion, and the brush work. Again, the way that melds into the background, the very textural kind of, for lack of a better word, sloppy quality to it, but yet you know exactly what it is. And the brush work is what contributes to the emotion of the piece. It wouldn't have that feeling if it weren't for the brush work. The wind taking these petals everywhere, almost like chaotic. It's fantastic to me. As a matter of fact, I'm still trying to master that. I still have not mastered that ability to make something so chaotic yet organized. And Stanka is a master at that. I don't know how she does it. If you watch some of her videos on her site, she has these behind-the-scenes videos of making one of her piece. What's it called? Oli, Olian, I forget the name of it. It's a girl holding a book, and this videographer came into her studio for months at a time, and just, the whole like 10 minute video is her creating this painting over a series of weeks and months. And she one time just throws her rag at the piece, 'cause she's so frustrated, 'cause it's not coming together. And that gave me such comfort, 'cause I was like, "Oh, my gosh, every artist struggles with this process of, 'It's not friggin' right.' "It's not what it was in my head. "It's not a success to me." I'm looking at it going, "Oh, it's gorgeous." But to her, it was not her, it was not her, what her soul was trying to say. The vocabulary was wrong, so she needed to fix it. And then it goes through the process of her doing that, and the end piece, of course, is just as stunning as it was in the beginning, to me, but it was her voice, and her vocabulary that needed to come out, and it wasn't coming out. So, I still have not mastered this whole chaotic thing. It's something that I need to work on, that I want to bring as an element into what I do. And you will find this occurring throughout your career. And it's okay, you have to enjoy that process, and be happy with it. I can't get sharpness, I can't get some technique, I can't get composition, I can't get color, I can't get the way these textures and blankets go together. How do they do that so brilliantly and easily, and I struggle with it? You have to embrace that process. 'Cause that is the mastery process occurring, and what is going to grow your style, because those struggles are what lead to serendipitous mistakes. And when you embrace that serendipity, and are okay with it going in a different direction, that's when your best work is built. There have been pieces that I have had in my head, that I wanted to be a certain way, and I started putting it on paper or digitally, and it wasn't working, wasn't working, wasn't working, set it aside for two weeks, came back to it and went, "Oh, whatever, oh my God, yes, "that's the direction we're gonna go." And I run that direction because you're open enough to see it. If you're so married to your idea to begin with, and you can't see that sometimes you're not supposed to go that way, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, move in a different direction. But you're so married to the idea of doing it that certain way that was in your head. You know what I'm talking about, right? Okay, if you listen to the tap, that maybe you're supposed to go in a different route that'll be better and will be more you. That's your soul speaking, let it talk. Okay, so this was the image that, Stanka Kordic, that I first saw, that totally floated my boat. Nowadays, you know, like Leila and the Wren is one that I love right now. It's a new piece. But this one was it, and I wanted to emulate this image so much I could taste it.

Class Description

How can you work successfully (and profitably) as an artist in a crowded, over-saturated market? You have to make your work and your brand stand out by creating your art from a deeply authentic place that is only YOU and yours alone. In other words, you must define your STYLE. By standing out uniquely, you can attract the kind of client who is willing to compensate you appropriately for what you bring to the table.

Join master business and photography educator, Julia Kelleher, for a class on finding, defining and applying your style to your work and your brand.

In this class you’ll discover how to:

  • Identify your style as an artist intentionally rather than by accident
  • Incorporate your style into your brand
  • Use your style to help gain financial benefits
Learn how an undeviating style can bring in your ideal client, make you stand out in a crowd, command top dollar and keep your competition at arms length.


Cesar Flores

Wow wow wow, as an artist on a beginner's stage this was an amazing presentation. Julia is a pro on teaching the psychology of the artist within ourselves. I will follow her from now on and start putting in practice her step by step techniques on finding my style as an artist. Thank you Creativelive and Thank You Julia, you are amazing


This course is amazeballs. Love love love love love love love. Just buy it. :)


Wow - this may be my favorite Julia Kelleher class (and I own several). So much of what she talks about hits home with me, really speaking to where I am at in my photography journey and the struggles I grapple with every day. Lots of hard truths - the kind that remind us as to the necessity of good old fashioned hard work (really, really hard work) - the need to be truly technically proficient - the need to experiment - the need to practice every single day - repetition ("wash, rinse, repeat!") - and the need to continue learning all the time. I also really appreciate the fact that Julia touches on the PPA (Professional Photographer's of America) CPP (Certified Professional Photographer) process a bit. I just took my CPP exam and will be working my way through the image submission phase of the CPP process over the course of the next year; so it was nice to hear Julia's thoughts and experience in her own CPP journey. I NEEDED this course. Julia and Creative Live - thank you for bringing this to us. And Julia, thank you for diving deep into the hard realities that we need to hear and know in order to truly grow and evolve artistically and professionally.