How to Stand Out

Dear friend,

We have established it is good to be different. Now the more practical question:

How do we stand out from the masses?

First of all, you must acknowledge that you’re different. Furthermore, you must also pride yourself on being different.

There are some individuals who are afraid of being perceived as different or ‘weird’. Or ‘crazy’.

All these negative terms used to denote the ‘other’ derives from the fact that when you’re different, people are afraid of you. Or they cannot put you inside a box, which makes them feel uncomfortable.

Speak your mind.

A very simple way to stand out:

Speak your mind, and don’t censor yourself.

In modern society, the best ways to take bigger risks in life is to either become an entrepreneur, or to share your thoughts and ideas honestly, frankly, without censoring yourself.

red and black

The biggest problem is that we often ‘water down’ our ideas and thoughts. We don’t really say what we think — because we want to be ‘politically correct’. And the biggest fear we have is ‘ruffling the feathers of others’– because if we piss off other people, it might hurt us personally. 

But if you desire to stand out, you must have an opinion — and you must stand firmly behind your own opinion. And you must have ‘skin in the game’ (which means, you are exposed to being attacked for your opinion). You must have a personal downside attached for your opinion, or else you are not entitled to having an opinion (thanks to Nassim Taleb for the idea).

Go opposite.

Cindy red

Whenever you see the herd doing something– go opposite.

Going opposite might not always be the right option– but generally speaking, going opposite renders more interesting and innovative ideas and approaches. 

Or another idea– 

Be very skeptical.

To cultivate skepticism is good.

How to stand out as a photographer

Cindy kyoto uji

 As a photographer, the best way to stand out is:

Make photos that look different from others.

You can make photos that stand out by:

  1. Unorthodox compositions (dutch angle, tilt, extreme minimalism)
  2. Not trying to shoot like another photographer; not seeking to make photos that look like the style of another photographer. For example, a lot of street photographers are just trying to become Alex Webb clones by shooting layers, color, and trying to shove as many elements in a frame without overlap. The world doesn’t need another Alex Webb; the world needs another new you.
  3. Seek more ancient or obscure inspirations: We all need inspiration from the masters. My practical tip is this: seek inspiration from old-school master photographers, such as Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith, and Josef Koudelka. Study forms of artwork outside of the field of photography– study surrealism (Salvador Dali), impressionism (Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet), Bauhaus (Piet Mondrian), renaissance (Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael)

In praise of ‘creative isolation’

Cindy hand Eric Kim selfie

For myself, giving myself creative isolation has been massively helpful to helping me better distill my own personal, creative vision. 

minimalist black and red composition

By focusing on yourself and your own artwork, you won’t get distracted (pulled in opposite directions). Drive straight.


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