How to Stand Out With Your Photography

Do you value yourself as a photographer? Do you value your photos? Do you value yourself?

Problem: many photographers talk down on themselves.

For example, I’ve heard:

  • Oh, I’m not a real photographer. Just a hobbyist.
  • I’m not an artist, I’m just a photographer.
  • I wish I started photography when I was younger.
  • I’m not talented.
  • My camera isn’t good enough.

Okay friend, never talk down on yourself. If your passion is photography and you desire to improve, that is all you need.

All you need is strength, courage, and self motivation in your artistic value and self.

It is gonna be hard.

Eric kim photography Kyoto black and white zen swan
Kyoto, 2015

So first of all, know you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Today, everyone is a photographer. Anyone can make good photos on their iPhone. Anyone can buy a full frame DSLR and become a wedding photographer.

Berkeley, 2015

The photography market is saturated. We’re drowning in images.

Yet despite that, you can still stand out. How?

Be the purple cow

I read a book a long time ago called the purple cow by Seth Godin. The basic idea: if you saw a purple cow, you would be shocked, and pay attention. You ignore boring black and white cows.

So if you want to stand out as a photographer you need to be different.

Ways to be different:

1. Brand yourself with a unique color

When I started street photography, I branded myself with the turquoise, Tiffany blue color. I liked it. It was more unique than the boring black and white everyone else was using.

Now, I’ve changed and evoked as a photographer. I made my blog bright, crimson red. It is actually a little pink. It’s a very distinctive color. And people remember colors.


Some bold colors you can brand yourself as a photographer which aren’t commonly used:

  • Magenta
  • Purple
  • Black and Gold
  • Orange

If you make business cards, make them a bold color that pops out. Design your website to be that bold color. Or make your profile picture that bold color. I for example, made my face that same bold red color of my visual identity– so it pops out in the news feed of people on my Facebook fan page or Twitter.

Assignment: choose a bold color for yourself, and write down the “hex code”– and use that same color for yourself for at least 5 years.

2. Don’t share boring photos.

Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

It is hard to say what makes a good photo. But most people can agree what a boring photo is.

A boring photo: is a photograph without emotion. Without soul. With no sex. That doesn’t excite us, scare us, or offend us.

The worst photos to make: “IKEA PHOTOS” as my friend Charlie Kirk says. An IKEA photo is a “pretty” photo that won’t offend anyone. Aka, the photo prints you see selling at IKEA.

As a photographer, it is better to make photos that offends your viewers than makes them feel luke-warm.

I’m famous online, because I ruffle feathers. I say things which are “politically incorrect” in the photography world, like:

Also I’m hated in most photography circles for my aggressive way I shoot street photography– close, with a flash. And wide angle 28mm lens.

Saigon, 2017

Also, I piss off some street photographers because I talk to my subjects. I shoot “STREET PORTRAITS” with permission. For some reason, some internet folks think that street photography must be shot candidly. But these are just assholes who are thing to superimpose their view and opinion on you, rather than being open-minded.

Lesson: If you have controversial views, share them. Also, don’t make or share boring photos.

It doesn’t mean just piss people off. It means, don’t let your different perspective paralyze you into fear. Just follow your heart.

3. Acknowledge that you’re different.

Saigon, 2017

The biggest thing: know that you are different. There is no creature on earth that is built like you, shoots like you, or thinks like you.

You have a unique artistic taste and vision. That is valuable. Share that vision with others and never compromise. That’s true art.

Like Steve Jobs said,

Think different.

What I think,

Shoot different.

Revel in your uniqueness, and if you want to stand out, you must be narcissistic, egotistical and self-centered.

If anyone criticizes you it’s okay, just blame ERIC KIM ;)


Photography Entrepreneurship 101

ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP // Portrait by Benjamin Thompson

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

How to Make Money with Photography

Photography Marketing 101

How to Hustle.

Entrepreneurial Principles

How to be a Full-time Photographer

Photography Blogging

How to Teach Photography

Social Media

How to Save Money