Dear fellow photographers, I salute you all for the great work you’re doing. I know it is not a smooth ride for you, given that you have to compete with a million others, including non-professionals. I’m saying this because almost everyone has a camera (including phone cameras) in this day and age. What precisely could that mean for you and me as photographers? Simple; we need to beat off competition to stand out. That means finding our own unique style. However, the biggest question is, how do we achieve this uniqueness, given that it is almost impossible to do something that has never been done before? Well, that is why I’m here. Today, I want to share with you some tips on how to have a unique voice as a photographer. Stay tuned.
Is there anything that has never been done in photography? Let me admit that this is a question that I have come across multiple times, especially when interacting with budding photographers. The sad reality is that I can’t imagine anything unique in today’s photography landscape. That is why the answer to the above question is no. However, one hard fact is that every human being is unique in their own right. While there may be no unique thing about your photography, no one else may have ever done things the same way you do. Are you beginning to see some silver lining now? I guess so. Let me now discuss what you must do to develop your own unique style as my fellow photographer.
Stop being impatient! Do I sound too harsh here? Sorry if that is the case; the strong coffee I’m taking here seems to be taking a toll on my system, and I feel I should not hide the truth, given that this is a mistake I once made. It slowed down my development in becoming the great photographer I am today. Now, you don’t have to walk the rocky, slow path I walked (I’m your predecessor/mentor, I guess) since I already did that for you.
Now, by being impatient, I mean wanting to share your work on social media, such as Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram, possibly daily. That is because you want to have constant feedback, likes, and comments. I call this immediate gratification, which you may want to give a snub for some time and focus on long term projects, making you a great photographer in the future. And let no one deceive you that excellent photography work can be created in a day. It takes time. Like authors, you need months or even years to come up with a masterpiece, so that even if you died with just one body of work that is meaningful, you would be far better than someone who left hundreds of meaningless pieces behind. I know this may seemingly be difficult advice to follow, but it is something I and many of my mentees have done and has worked wonders.
Copying other photographers’ works is very simple, but I want to condemn it in the strongest terms possible. Unless you’re not looking to establish your own unique voice in the industry, you could do that. Still, again, plagiarism is a negative connotation. So, stop! Nonetheless, you can look at what your fellow photographers have done, learn from it, and then use the knowledge gathered to develop your own voice.
Before I developed my own style, I sampled a few top photographers and realized that they had their own subject matter, which seemed to run in most of their works. There are various subject matter options to choose from, including waterfalls (this is what I chose), the night sky, mountains, forests, paintings, etc. However, one thing you must take note of is that not all your photos will fit your style. Be sure to be flexible.