How to Find Your Unique Vision in Photography

Your voice is unique — the focus of your photography shouldn’t be to discover a “better” voice or vision in photography. No, the focus you should have is to better understand and better listen to your own voice and vision in photography.

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Man in rain. Tokyo, 2016

How do you see the world? What kind of glasses do you perceive reality through?

Do you see a positive, optimistic, and joyful world? Or do you perceive a pessimistic, depressing, and shitty world?

Woman and door. Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM

Do you seek to capture your own unique version of reality? Or do you wish to change reality with your camera?

Are you satisfied with the real world around you, or dissatisfied?

Your vision is the right vision.

Cindy white face. Saigon, 2017

I don’t think there is a “right” or “wrong” way to see the world.

There is only your unique vision of the world. That is the “real” world— your unique perspective.

Your job and duty as a photographer is:

  1. To better understand what your vision is
  2. To share that vision with others

Visual tyrant

Cindy and arms. Saigon, 2017
Cindy and arms. Saigon, 2017

As an artist, you are a visual tyrant— you’re trying to convince others that your vision of the world is interesting, unique, and important. And to share that vision with others, you need to make powerful pictures — pictures that give people a muscular reaction (one that makes people smile, frown in disgust, or something that causes someone’s eyeballs to dilate in surprise).

Doll in plastic wrap. Sapa, Vietnam 2016
Doll in plastic wrap. Sapa, Vietnam 2016

I recommend when you share your pictures with other people in real life, study their facial reactions when looking at your pictures. People lie with their words, but they never lie with their faces or their eyes.

Hands of a 92 year old woman. Hanoi, 2017
Hands of a 92 year old woman. Hanoi, 2017

Extreme responses

As a visual artist, you want to elicit a REACTION in your viewer. If your pictures give your viewer a “tepid” (lukewarm) response, you have failed. You need to elicit a strong reaction in your viewer — you either want your viewer to really love your picture, or really hate it. Extreme reactions, no “meh” or indifferent reactions.

Trust your own inner-vision

Of course, this is all my opinion. I am writing you this letter to encourage you to think more critically about your photography and pictures.

Ultimately, form your own opinion about your own pictures, and stay faithful to your unique vision in photography.

So friend, do you know what makes your vision of the world unique? Do you have the faith and confidence to share that vision with others—even though it may piss others off?

BE STRONG,
ERIC

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