Find Common Themes in Your Photography

finding common themes in your photography

Finding common themes in your work is huge when you are trying to identify your style. Even when we are first starting out and we are struggling with trying to figure out what aperture, and shutter speed are, or how to pronounce ISO. LOL…I had to throw that in there to make sure you were paying attention! Okay, back to business, there is a style that is there but we aren’t trained to see it yet, because we have to get through the boring technical stuff. Or, we haven’t opened up our minds and our hearts to what really speaks to us.

I remember when I first started out there were a lot of photographers whose work I really loved, and I would strive to create the same kind of images that they created all the way down to the posing. I will be honest and tell you that I failed. I failed because even though I liked what they did it was their vision, style, and voice. It didn’t say Celeste on it at all. You know what else??? People didn’t identify with my work. The reason why people didn’t identify with my work was because it didn’t speak to them and the reason why it didn’t speak to them was because it wasn’t speaking to me first.

I’ll tell you what my ah ha moment was. I remember capturing this image of my daughter, and honestly my brand and style is built around my work with her. I posted this image and people really liked it, but I didn’t post it because I was hoping to get likes or because someone else did something like it last week and I liked it. I posted it because it spoke to me on a personal level. I felt like I connected with my subject and that she was connecting back to me, the viewer.


If you are familiar with my portraiture work you know that I love good eye contact. I love it when my subjects trust me enough to let go and let me in, so that is a common theme in my work.

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I also like to stand back and document my subjects. Once, I stop directing they forget about me being there and then something magical happens.

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I also realized that I love long focal prime lenses. I like the creamy skin tones, and bokeh that I get with them, and I love shooting wide apertures. I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t shot with different focal lengths and different apertures. ;)

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Another common theme in my work is my choice of locations. I love shooting in the city and using the textures and elements that I’m familiar with and I try to incorporate those things in most of my work.

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These common themes were always present in my work from the very beginning. It took time and me keeping it real with myself to realize that it’s okay to be a portrait photographer who loves long focal lengths, eye contact, shoots wide and likes shooting around the city! Whew, that was a mouthful! But, you get what I’m saying it’s okay to be me and it’s okay to be you! I know you are like what’s up with all the exclamation points, but I’m excited about this because it took so long for me to come to this realization for myself and see…I’m giving it to you quick and easy.:)

It’s okay to shoot what you love and how you like to shoot. Do this. If you are trying to figure out who you are as an artist look at your whole body of work. I know you are like that’s a lot of pictures, but really look at it and pick out common themes such as, what lenses you used, how you use light, what is your common subject, do you like to shoot them doing a routine activities, posed, etc. Look at it all and you will see that your style is there. Yeah, you may need to work on a few things but those things will come with time and practice. I promise!

Read more about finding your photography style

4 Tips to finding your photography voice
Photography Style: 5 Tips to Finding Your Style
Find Your Photography Style

Celeste JonesCeleste Jones – Guest Post
Celeste Jones is a hybrid photographer based out of Delaware. Her primary focus is photographing children being themselves. She really loves to photograph every moment of her daughter’s life so that she can remember the person that she was at every stage of her life. When she isn’t shooting with her DSLR or medium format camera you’ll find her capturing the world around her with her Iphone. She recently wrote a Break Out Session for Clickin’ Moms you can purchase here: Soul | Photography and Approach. She’s also a self-proclaimed reality tv junkie who loves Jelly Belly jelly beans (except for the black liquorice and popcorn flavor).
Website | Facebook | Instagram

  • July 15, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    I loved this article, Celeste. Great thoughts on looking at your whole body of work and seeing what it is that really sings to your heart. Gorgeous images as always.

  • Athia
    July 15, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Your work is amazing and you are amazing! Great post Celeste!

  • Brandi
    July 15, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    I really love your style! The way you present info is down to earth!

  • July 15, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Big fan of your work Celeste! That first shot you shared of your daughter is one of my absolute favorites. :) Thanks for sharing!

  • July 15, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    Great article Celeste! And beautiful work :)

  • July 16, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    I just had a session last week, where I really saw myself. It was pretty amazing! Thank you so much for those tips I hope to continure to grow from that.

  • Christin
    July 16, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    This post was such an eye-opener for me! All to often I find myself trying to copy the work of photographers I love, along with trying to be that photographer who can “do everything.” Your gorgeous photos helped me realize it’s ok to be myself! Thanks, Celeste!

  • July 17, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    I am a new fan of your work, Celeste; simply beautiful! I really connected with this post. I used to try to photograph in ways that would make other people happy or try to use another photographer’s style. I’m a much better photographer–and a whole lot happier–when I photograph what I see, feel, and enjoy. It’s OK to be me! Thank you.

  • July 17, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Thank you all for the love. :)

  • Heather Richard
    July 28, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    very well said. Thank you!!

  • Michelle
    October 4, 2013 at 2:10 AM

    what lens do you use

    • October 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      Hey Michelle! This post was written by a guest writer – Celeste Jones of Celeste Jones Photography :)

  • July 24, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Celeste, your work is perfection. I have a similar style in my own work: direct eye contact, love of wide open negative space (which you didn’t mention in your article, but I see it), and a stark, emotional realism that is both disarming and winning. This was a well-written piece, and I love your heart and soul. <3

  • July 24, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Awesome article, I love it, I love your photos, you inspired me and I totally loved the LOL!! I’m still working on the ISO and all that technical stuff. Thanks so much for sharing your story and such amazing photos! I love your style.

  • Tamara
    July 25, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    Big fan of your work and when I saw the link to this article I had to read it! I’ve been trying to find myself in my photography for sometime now, so I think I’m going to break out a journal, grab a cup of coffee, and go through my work! Thanks for the pointers!

  • July 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Great article! Thanks for the insight. Your work is beautiful.

  • Marianna Summerill
    February 18, 2019 at 2:41 AM

    Thank from Jody Busboom

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