If you ever struggle to describe your style, this exercise is for you. With a few back issues of your favorite magazines and a little time, you can quickly hone in on your style characteristics. While I did this exercise to refine my photo style for tinsel + trim, it's just as easy to imagine its value when planning a party, a room redo, or a wardrobe refresh.
I was introduced to this exercise, known as the 5 Minute Flip, last month at the Altitude Summit blogging conference. Candice Borup Stringham, of Handmade Mood, led a photo styling workshop about how to create imagery that conveys mood, feeling and personality. As she spoke, I furiously scribbled notes trying to capture all of the many illuminating and practical tips she generously shared. Among them was this exercise.
The premise is simple. While we find ourselves attracted to a multitude of styles and imagery, if we pull those images together, patterns will begin to emerge. We may notice we like bright, airy photos or dark, moody ones. Graphic or organic. Simple or complex. If we take it one step further and narrow, over time, that set of images to a favorite few, we'll have effectively honed in on our style characteristics.
These are the steps Candice suggests:
- Gather. Grab a few magazines you aren't afraid to tear apart and set the timer for 5 minutes.
- Flip. Go through the pages deliberately but quickly. Pull out every image that you respond to; don't think about it - just react.
- Assemble. At the end of the 5 minutes, take the images you've gathered and assemble them on a wall that you frequently pass.
- Narrow. Over the next few days, every time you walk by, take down one image.
- Reflect. You're done when you have one or a few images you can't bear to remove - these are your style beacons. Dissect, analyze and reflect. This image (or images) holds the key to your style characteristics.
Here's a simulated time lapse of my exercise. As you can see I started with quite a few but couldn't bring myself to go any further than the final eight images.