To succeed as a modern photographer, you must discover your unique angle.
The secret to success as a modern photographer
I was chatting with my buddy Mitya Trotsky last night, and he gave me the idea:
To stand out as a modern photographer, you need a certain ‘angle’.
What makes your angle unique?
For example, you want to have ‘meaningful differentiation’ between you and other photographers. You need a unique perspective, or angle.
What makes your artistic perspective unique? What can you see, that nobody else sees?
Why angles are important
Even if you think about photography, to make a good picture, you need a good (figurative) angle.
For example in composition, you can make a dynamic picture with a low-angle picture, or a high-angle picture. Or making it dynamic from the side, from having a side-angle. Or even a head-on angle.
If you study physics and geometry, it is all about angles. Angles is what creates triangles, forms, bridges, and is the root of understanding kinetic energy.
And to make a compelling picture you must always photograph it with a compositionally dynamic angle.
So add more compositional angles to your pictures.
There’s only one of you
You must be a personality. You must be a unique individual. You cannot be another needle in the haystack.
You are the red circle, in a sea of grey squares.
Don’t be shy. Be proud and loud of what makes you different, and broadcast it loudly.
How to find your angle
Now a more tricky task: how do you identify your angle, or what makes you unique?
Like for myself, I find it unique that I studied sociology and also learned photography on my own.
Therefore, I’m not really a photographer, or street photographer. I’m a ‘visual sociologist.’
This can be my angle:
I don’t seek to make pictures, I seek to make human connections.
This is because I studied sociology, which is all about understanding individuals, social dynamics, and humanity at large.
This can also be thought of in a ‘cross-pollination’ mindset.
What various interests of yours can you mix, and integrate it into your photographic and visual art to make yourself have a unique angle or perspective on the world?
For example, Sebastião Salgado studied economics, but instead of writing dry papers on inequality of economic opportunity, he decided to travel and photograph it instead. In a way, his angle was that of an economist meets photographer. He’s making social commentary and critique on the globalization of cheap labor in his ‘WORKERS’ book.
What are you trying to say?
Also, try to consider — what are you trying to say with your pictures?
For example, in my SUITS project, I wanted to make a critique on the rat race, the pressure to make more money to seek ‘happiness’, and that freedom is more valuable than money.
For me, the message I’m trying to share is more important than the pictures.
In other words,
Figure out what you want to say about society, the world, or life — then figure out how you can make pictures to communicate your message.
Case study: CINDYPROJECT
I was inspired by my friend Josh White who taught me that photographing your loved ones is more important than photographing strangers.
Cindy is my muse, artistic partner, and soulmate. I have such deep love and appreciation for her — and I wanted to encourage others to appreciate their loved ones as much as I do for Cindy. I therefore started the ‘CINDYPROJECT’ as a way to tell people:
Your loved ones are valuable. Photograph them, to feel more appreciation towards them.
It is my ambition and goal for everyone to start their own cindyproject.
Therefore, my goal was to show my love for Cindy, and I decided photography would be a good medium for that. I didn’t seek to make nice pictures of Cindy, and then falling in love with the pictures of her. I love Cindy more than the pictures I make of her.
Assignment: What is your angle?
So friend, what is your unique angle?
To discover your unique angle in photography, write down a list of your unique interests. Write down what you studied in school, or what you really wanted to study, but didn’t have the opportunity to study (or your parents didn’t let you).
For example, for myself I would write:
- Computer science
- Cognitive Science
- Behavioral Economics
- Diet, exercise, fitness
Then think of how you can cross-pollinate, or make a hybrid concept with that and your photography.
Then to ‘brand yourself’ start simple: marry two concepts together.
So once again,
Sociology + Photography = Visual Sociology (or ‘street photography’)
Have fun, and figure out your own visual mathematics.
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- The “10x Principle”: The Only Difference Between “Success” and “Failure”
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How to be a Full-time Photographer
- How to Make a Living From Photography
- The 3 Principles of Making Money With Photography
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- Don’t Go Into Debt For Your Photography
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- Trust: The Most Important Thing You Need to Succeed as a Photographer
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- How to Become a Photography Teacher
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- Why I Deleted My Instagram
- The Social Media Blackbook for Photographers
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- Instagram is Going to Be the Next Facebook
- Don’t Trust “Free” Photography Social Networks
How to Save Money