Wow, I’ve read a lot of stuff online and elsewhere about how photographers can and should develop a personal style. As a preliminary matter, my understanding of personal style (I’m sure different people have different opinions on this) is that it is a way of making photographs, such that viewers readily recognize them as being the product of a particular photographer. Having a personal style seems to have become a sort of “holy grail” among photographers, as if having one will be synonymous with success, creativity, and fulfillment.
So how do you develop a personal style? Don’t try.
If you think having a personal style is important, I’d get over this. Don’t listen to the advice of people on how to develop a personal style, and don’t have it as an agenda item on your “todo” list for improving as a photographer.
Instead, just photograph what you want in the way that you want to, honestly and humbly. Photography, to me, really is a simple thing: you see something in the world that moves you, and you try to isolate what moved you, first by capturing it with a camera, and later by editing your capture with whatever tools you choose to use (e.g., a darkroom or a computer). Notice that this process does not include a step of making sure that what you capture and how you edit conforms to a personal style, or indeed any other agenda point to tick off in the photographic process.
If you practice photography in this way, I suspect that your personal style will find you. I can’t tell you this from firsthand experience, though – I don’t even know if I have a personal style, and I’m pretty unconcerned about it.