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


Finding, Defining, and Marketing Your Photographic Style


Lesson Info

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

Using your analysis and the artist's components that appeal to you, create a photograph or a painting or a composite using your favorite subject matter. Okay? If you don't have a favorite, then just pick one that you normally do, okay? Don't get hung up on the subject matter based on our previous five minute discussion. So, with me, it was brushwork, color palette, subject matter, wind, and background. It's what we've been talking about with Stanka and Heather's images, right? Those were the elements that really drew me in for a myriad of emotional reasons. Symbolic and emotional reasons, correct? Okay. This is the work that I created of me and my boy. Can you see the influence? Hell yeah. Okay? Brushwork, color palette, subject matter, wind, background. Did I master it? (laughs) Hell no, not like they did. Okay? But, it's a learning process and I did grasp a hold of some of the techniques that I love. You can see Stanka and Heather in that image, no problem. It's me, you know, my work...

, you can still see that element, but you can see who I was influenced by, now that you know. And the success as a stylist and artist is when people recognize your work and they go, oh my goodness, she reminds me of Stanka Kordic! The greats, she reminds me of Pollock or Cezanne or Renoir. Oh my gosh, she has such a Rembrandt-esque to her work. When people can see the influences that you've had in your work, yet you're still producing original work that's you, that's when you're like yes, I'm an artist. This rocks! Okay? Now, this can be done in photography as well. Obviously I'm showing you painting 'cause I love to paint, okay? But it can be done in a photograph as well. You're gonna see me do it with this family shoot we're doing tomorrow. Allison Tyler Jones is now a dear friend and a mentor and someone I look up to and she has influenced my work huge in the last four months. Huge! Okay? Same with Mark Bryant. I went to study with Mark Bryant for three days in Montana. 10 hour drive from Montana in the middle of January. That's fun. Okay, and I spent three days with him and his wife, Sandra and we learned light at a molecular level and he changed the way I light my work. This is all technical components that he does in his work and I took that same methodology and went how can I do this with me, with mine, with my subject matter, with my studio, with my lighting, how can I make it me? And that's what I'm asking you to do. Now do I copy Mark Bryant? Hell no! We're gonna show you his imagery in the next segment. Oh, it's gorgeous. Oh my gosh, he just makes me drool. But, you look at how my work is nothing the same. No, different, I mean totally opposite, but he's influenced me in his technical mastery of what he does. Okay? Same with Ben Shirk. So, find your artists who move you. They can be photographers, painters, whatever and let them influence you. Steal from them. Okay? But you can see, I am not copying Stanka, at all. It's echoing and reminiscent, but that is not a copy cat. It is my work with her intimacy of subject matter. It's my work with the wind in both her and Heather's work. It's my work with Heather's melding of background into foreground. Do you see it? It's my work with Heather's color palette. That's how you grow your style and find what you love. And, when I finished this image, it took a long time and a lot of different renditions. Oh my gosh, I look at my son's eyes and it like makes me tear up. And I went, yes, like I felt good about the piece. I was like, and now I look back at it and I see the technical problems. I'm like, oh, I could fix this, I should really get better at that. You know, I start to criticize and analyze myself. And that's okay and I will get better. There's not enough depth in it, like Stanka's has all the shadow and depth and foreground, even though it's a messy brush stroke and I haven't mastered that yet. That is getting really subtle into the nuances of being able to paint. Okay? So basically, the four step find it formula, wash, rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat. Over and over and over and over again. Find three images. How are you influenced? Combine them into one. This really is the formulaic way to find your style. If you have it cognizant at the front of your head, and you're thinking about it every time you create a work, all of a sudden, everything's going to become so much clearer to you. And at first, you'll be overwhelmed because there will be lots of artists you love. There'll be lots of single images that mean the world to you. And there will be lots of different technical components that number one, you need to learn and number two, you'll wanna master, and number three, you'll wanna incorporate with that feeling into your work like I just did with that last piece. I bet you can think of a ton of different things you wanna do right now. I mean there's enough ideas to fill ten lifetimes. Right? So that's where it's gonna be a little overwhelming. (laughs) Man, where do I start? What do I do? Just pick one. Really. Just pick one. And if you want, this is, by taking several artists and combining it into one image that you create, that is advanced style finding right there. If you want to keep it simpler, just take one artist, one image, one component. Camera angle, that's it. I'm just gonna master the low wide camera angle. Oh that's cool. Okay? Apply it to multiple subjects, different light situations, but always use that same camera angle. Master that. What makes it cool? What makes it less? What makes it more interesting? What makes it more challenging? When you study that, like Monet did with his haystacks, all of a sudden, you know, he studies light and subject matter and texture in the hay. That was pretty much his goal. When he did that, all of a sudden he knew exactly what was going on technically with that component and then he could apply it to other imagery. That's when you start mastering skill. Okay? Yes, wash, rinse, repeat. Alright, so once again, let us know if you have questions in the studio audience, but we definitely have some coming in from online. So this question is, how do you adjust, so you've gone through this process, but how do you adjust if you have a specific style or method of shooting for your specialized genres? So, if you do have different subject matters that you've created, through a specific style within those, how do you adjust? I'm a little confused by the question. Can you ask that again? Let me reread it. How do you adjust if you have a specific style/method of shooting for your specialized genres? How do you adjust if you have a specific style or methodology? For your specific genre, so if you do pets, if you do families. Oh, when you have a different style for each one? That's what I'm thinking the question is. Okay, so how do you adjust, adjust what? I guess is what I'm asking. How much do you need to unify? Do you need to unify it? Well I don't think so. Okay, I get it now. Do you need to unify your style? I'm sorry, repeat. Do you need to unify your style? I don't think so. Or can you have two different styles? I think you can, most definitely. I wouldn't be all willy-nilly and have like 12, but I have two different styles for sure. My everyday client photographic work has a very strong work to it, and my artwork, my paintings, my composites, my commission pieces have a totally different look to them. I use different color palette, the wind, the paint, brushwork, all that stuff, if you look at my paintings and you look at my photography, and I'm not sure they're the same artist. Like when I look at my work. But I think that's okay. Now will the two meld eventually? Yes, maybe. And I guess the biggest thing I wanna tell you guys is it's okay to refine your style. We're gonna talk about refinement all in the next section, but it's okay to change. You don't have to be one thing and stick with it for God's all be all end of your life into eternity, no! No artist has ever done that. If you do that, you're stale, old and has been, and nobody wants your work. I mean, there are photographers who have struggled with that. Think about photographers who have been in business 30, 40, 50 years, are shootin' the same way they did when they were 20, and they start to go out of business, 'cause it's not fresh, it's not new, it's not refined. So people don't want that anymore, but on the other hand, 50 years in the future, it'll come back, you know what I mean? So style is that combination of taking what's trendy, and incorporating it into something that has longevity. But if you stay there too long, then you get old and stale, so I guess my message is, this is a revolving cycle, it just keeps going and going, and going. That's why I call it the style cycle, but if you have two different styles, it is okay, and they may meld together in the future, or they may not. Right now mine are not. Would it be cool if they did? Maybe, yeah. Do I want it to? Ah maybe, I don't know, I haven't gotten there yet, not sure. So I'm saying that's okay though. People in my studio see my commission work and what it looks like style-wise, then they see my everyday photography work, what it looks like and style-wise, some want this, oh that's so cool, and some want this, it's okay. Now again, I gotta make sure I don't have a marketing problem. Because the main style of my studio is the everyday photographic work, that's where the brand lies. Okay? This custom commission work, I don't do that often, it's very specialty, it's not for everybody, it's extremely expensive, it's totally different, so it's its own animal, and that's okay. It's a completely different style, but there's nothing wrong with that. If I made it too close to that, what would be the reason to do it? Do you see what I'm saying? I don't want it to look so much like that style that it's not worth paying extra for. Okay? So when you have two different styles and two different genres, don't ask yourself if you have a style problem. Ask yourself if you have a marketing problem. Okay? How am I going to communicate these two brands, in other words my style, which is part of the visual aspect of my brand, along with personality and promise. How am I going to communicate those two brands in marketing messaging that's effective for both? That works the same with, that come from the same artist? Does that make sense? So chances are this style that you have for seniors, and this style that you have for weddings, they're both you right? There's components that weave the two together that are part of you, correct? So the trick is taking those components and marketing those as being a unified studio that produces work that is in weddings, and work seniors, and work that is in weddings. Makes sense? Not easy to do all the time, sometimes it's actually easier to make the two styles meld together than it is to create marketing messaging that looks like a unified studio under one brand. And so sometimes when I see photographers who have weddings and pets, or whatever, and they're two totally different styles, I go, you might want to have two divisions of your company. Jewel Images Weddings, Jewel Images Pets. I've even seen people, like my baby line, my baby plan is called Bijou Baby, it's a division of Jewel Images. And I'm kind of thinkin' about droppin' the Bijou Baby reference because the styles have started to meld, but it used to be that Bijou Baby was bright, happy, colorful, fun, wild, crazy, and I've discovered, uh it's not me. I kind of look at it and parents, I'm like, this is so not timeless, this is gonna be so done in like five years, nobody's gonna care about this image. So I'm melding it into more of a neutral, clean, you saw it there, Wyatt with his sister, that was a baby plan image, which is much more my style, and much more infused with my newborn and my family work. But in the beginning, when Bijou Baby was bright and happy and colorful, putting it as Bijou Baby, a division of Jewel Images separated it. Does that make sense? In the brand. Answer the question? Okay, yeah. Do you wanna stand up? So when you did that, and when you had Bijou Baby and it was a totally different style, did you, it wasn't on your website at all? No. So say that somebody did weddings and I don't know, pets, and they were two completely different things. They shot with different focal lengths, different colors, different everything, would you recommend two separate websites, two separate Instagram accounts? Would you, I guess my question is, when you say division of, Olivia Grey Pritchard Photography, how do you recommend separating that when you go to market it? It's very case dependent, but I really do think if it's that different, that yeah, it should be separated, I would do two different Instagram accounts. You know, but you also have to understand the platform of Instagram. Instagram, people look at your feed and decide whether or not to follow you. Your Instagram feed, if you look at mine, we've just started working on this in the past five months, my Instagram feed is so branded it's not even funny. Like you look at my Instagram feed, and it's like, oh yeah, that's her. Like every image is just branded according to us. If I started sticking in stuff that was a different style, it would look out of place and it would jolt the viewer, it would confuse the buyer. So yeah, if I had two totally different styles, I would separate them, and that's a lot of work. So you have to ask yourself if that's really what you wanna do, and sometimes style decisions are business decisions. If, you know, you and I talked about it at lunch, if you wanna get into pet lines, along with your babies and families, and I have no idea if you're gonna shoot that differently than what you normally do, but if you are, you might wanna consider making it a separate division. But if it's going to be very similar in that soft, airy, lovely, clean, what I know of as Olivia Grey Pritchard Photography, then keep it all in the same place, because that's so much easier business strategically to keep it all in one spot. So yes I want you to speak your voice, but sometimes you have to make a business strategic decision too. And I think that's why I don't advertise my composite work at all really out there, because to me, it's so different than what I do on a daily basis that if people want that, they will come in and see it. Very, very, very rarely do I have a new client commission me for an artwork. It's always second timers, third timers, fourth timers, because they don't see it. The only time I've booked a woman first time for a custom commission is because she actually came in for a pre-session consultation when she was pregnant, saw it on the wall and went, oh, I want that, and we booked her for it. But normally I do consultations on the phone, so they're seeing the work on my website, not actually in the studio. Then they come in, they see the work in the studio, they love it, a year later they come back and commission a custom piece. Does that make sense? And if I really wanted to market my custom commissioned work, I would make a separate site, and go, okay, this is Jewel Images, this is Jewel Images Fine Art. Just so that people understand that there's a difference and that they're paying for that difference. Especially since it's a higher end line. With you, if your photography's gonna be the same price whether it's pets or babies, then I think it's just a matter of separating it for a matter of clarity's sake, to not confuse the client, more than anything. But again, it's a ton of work. Separate websites, separate galleries, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, keep your pricing the same for goodness sake, don't give yourself more headache than you need. You know what I mean? I did that in the beginning too, I had a different style for seniors, different style for families, and I had two separate, three separate websites, they're still hidden on my site somewhere, back in deep Bluehost country, wherever that may be. And I had different pricing, and different collateral, and blah, blah, blah. Oh my God, I just wanted to cut my head off, it's too much. I was a one man shop, I couldn't keep track and keep up with that, so some of my style strategy decisions were based on the fact that I didn't want to do that much work. So consider that too, it's not always bad to make a style decision as a business decision. Thanks. Any other questions before I move on? We do, we do have more questions comin' in. Love how active folks at home are as well. So let me see if I can phrase this question properly. So this whole segment has been about finding your style, and you talked about all these elements and the technical things that you are drawn to. And so for art, if we all see different things, are we not thinking about what your client's gonna see in your style as you're going through these exercises? Not at all. You're just focused on what you love, because you're developing your style. Yeah, don't you dare think about your client. Don't you dare, and I know that's really hard to do, 'cause you wanna do what's gonna sell. But in this discovery phase, right now, do not think about what your client wants. That's dangerous. That's a great question Kenna. And I didn't address it, and now I'm like, gosh, I should've put that in the program. Don't even go where your client, or you think your client wants you to go, 'cause that's not authentically you. Don't you dare. Get those clients outta your head right now. They don't matter. They don't know anything, why would they be important. They don't know jack squat about photography or art or anything, you're the expert. You study, you master your craft, you make what's good, you make what's you. Style is a combination of you and technical expertise. And I promise you, I promise you 100%, let's bring the house down, if you master your technical skills, you will develop a style. Simple as that. It has to happen. Be good at what you do, hone your skill, take classes, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, 'til you're blue in the face. Practice. That's what Vicky does every day, that's why she's winning awards at WPPI, it's 'cause she has more persistence and determination than the rest of us, okay? The most determined wins. That is a friggin' hashtag, do it like you mean it. Everyday, practice. That's what's gonna get your technical skills to a level that no one else has, and automatically your style will just go right along with ya, because it can't help but. Style is not something you find, it's already there, you just have to discover it. Every single one of you has a style in you. It's in your heart, screaming to come out, you just need to listen and let it, and it's all unique, that's what's so cool about it. Every single one of you is so different and unique, all of us are. But we're so frickin' hung up on what the client wants, who gives a rat's ass what the client wants? Don't listen to what you think will sell. It's not important. Not right now. Not right now. You can think about it later, but not right now. (class laughs) Okay? We should put that on a shelf for a minute. Shelf, client on shelf. You can dust them off later, okay? Seriously, this is so important, 'cause if you let the client influence you now, or what you think other photographers want now, you are gonna get stuck in a revolving door and never be able to get out, okay? You have to do this from your own heart, your own place, and who cares if it sucks, it does not matter. It's not about what's good and what's bad right now, it's about finding. You get good later, as your technical skills grow. Right now I just want you to find what you love, just find what you love, find the things that make you feel something, that influence you, that makes your heart, that has meaning, that has symbolism to you. That's what I want you to find right now. At the same time, I want you to figure out what technical skills you lack, and start working on improving that. When I'm making, here's the thing, you can work on your technical skills and just work on technical, and style will just come along, right along with you if you want. That's how most of us end up doing it. And then one day we turn around and look and go, oh yeah, that's my style, cool. Okay? That's how most of us figure it out. What I'm tryin' to get you to do is go, okay, I'm here at the bottom, I've got these technical skills that I suck at, but oh this is really pretty, I love this, I need to work on this. Okay, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, this is what I'm tryin' to get you to do. You're gonna climb that mountain a hell of a lot higher and faster if you hone your technical expertise and explore what you love at the same time. Because you're gonna hone in on those components, those elements of what make an image that you love, you're gonna focus on those first because you love them. And then when you love them, you're gonna want to do them. Doesn't mean you can ignore everything else, you still have to get good at everything else, but at least you're gonna hone those things that you are truly good at quicker and faster, and that's gonna make you develop a style faster, which is gonna make you develop a brand faster, which is gonna make you build a business faster, and actually make a living at what you're doing. Okay? So instead of just going, oh yeah, I'm gonna get good at photography, woo hoo, oh hi style, awesome, this is great. I want you to go, style you're frickin' on the road with me, come here now, come on, we're draggin' you along, that's what I want you to do with your style. We're gonna learn this stuff, we're gonna hone it in, get it strong in technical, we're gonna master our craft, and style is going to come right along with us 'cause we're conscious of it. That's why the find it formula's so important, because it's gonna teach you to keep looking for your style, even when you're honing your technical expertise. Make sense? Yes. I get passionate about this stuff man, it's a little too much sometimes. Moving on, rabbit trail. (class laughs) Okay, so. This is the style cycle, the process of self-discovery and improving your technical ability, the methodology for finding that style. Okay, so homework, homework, homework. Choose one image from each, so use the course worksheet to pick your artists. Go to things like Google Art Project, Pinterest, Behance, DeviantArt, really just anywhere on the internet that you can find imagery, art of some kind, photographs, paintings, sculpture, architecture, movies, anything like that that floats your boat. A visual piece of art, okay? Not like music or something where it's audio, or food where it's, but food is really pretty. So if you see pictures of food that you like, it might be something, and you may be a food photographer, so you want, you're inspired by food art or whatever. But still visual, is that making sense? Choose one image from each artist, so make sure it's an artist that you love their body of work because keep in mind, some artists haven't fully found their style yet. So if you look at their work, a lot of different pieces and you're like, oh I just like that one image, and these are kinda weird and different, don't go there. I want you to find artists who are very solid in their style, you'll know it when you see it right? You know when you see an artist with style, right? A look that's all their own. Choose the one image that you wanna buy and put on your wall, and guys, this may not be a one night stand. This may be a one year process. So again, remember those mistakes I talked about? You try to force a style on yourself too soon, or you're not patient enough to wait for it and let it evolve. So give yourself some time to do this, but don't drop the ball, don't let it go. That's also the kiss of death too. Start researching artists. Pinterest is great, 'cause you can just keep it there and then come back to it, keep it there, and come back to it. And the ability to come back to it at a later date will really tell you if it's something that makes your heart sing. 'Cause if you pin it now and go, oh yeah, I like it, and then two weeks later you come back and you go, why did I pin that? Then you know that it's not sticking. You have to marinade in this stuff for a while. So pick your artist, then pick that one image, then I want you to write your descriptive paragraph about those images and the elements that make up the image and why you love them, how it impacts you, what it says to you. How it impacts you, how you feel about it, what it says to you, and what it symbolizes, if there is any symbolism. Sometimes there will be and sometimes there won't. I mean, lighting, okay, it's pretty, it doesn't symbolize anything, does that make sense? It could in an image, but not necessarily all the time, whereas to me, the wind analogy is very symbolic to me, to me, maybe not to the artist, but to me. Okay, so then, this is a process, and what you're going to do in the next week is you're going to, if you can do this within a week, is to create an image from those three images, borrowing upon those elements and how they impacted you. And you are going to wash, rinse, and repeat until you have a body of work.

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. :)

a Creativelive Student

Great class. A step by step way of finding a artist style that is from your heart. Stop hoping the style fairy will randomly visit you some day. I view this in-depth system as a smart exploration component integrated with a gut check component. Julia has laid it all out smartly and easy to follow. The work itself will not be easy but the steps are beautifully explained. Brilliant! Buy the course. Yeah I will be using it for years. Shelle