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What if Striving to Be Unique is a Trap?

A thought:

In America, to be ‘unique’ is heralded as the apex of worthiness.

But what if this is just a consumerist trap?

Is being ‘unique’ overrated?

If you think about Homer and how he innovated with the Iliad — he wasn’t ‘unique’. He used the same old gods, similar mythologies and such. But what Homer did do was use powerful, simple language, to paint a vivid and raw story.


Even if you think about most stories in history, they are more or less the same. What is different is how they are told *a bit* differently. This tiny bit of difference is what makes them interesting and ‘unique’.

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Even in photography, most aesthetics and compositions have been attempted. There isn’t *too* much left to innovate in terms of aesthetics and composition. What matters more is this:

For you to inject your own soul and heart into the photos you create.

So in this way, we aren’t aiming for ‘uniqueness’ in our photography. We are simply striving to make *soulful* and personal photos which matter deeply to us.

selfie ERIC KIM

How striving to be unique is a trap

If you are always striving to be ‘unique’, you will always be looking over your shoulder and very concerned:

Am I really really doing something that nobody else is doing?

And this is besides the point. We all drink coffee, we all drink water, we all eat, we all use the toilet. Ultimately even the cars we drive, the homes we live in, and the tools we use — they are all the same at the end of the day. The slight differences we put in our consumerist goods (like which camera you use, which phone you use, which car you drive) — the differences are very minimal. Does it matter whether you drive a Tesla Model 3, S, Y, or X? Or drive a Porsche 911, Panamera, or Taycan? Or whether you drive an Audi, Mercedes, or BMW? Ultimately they are far more similar than dissimilar (they are all 4-wheeled vehicles whose ultimate purpose is human-body transportation).

Cindy roots project

So what should we be striving towards in our photography?

Perhaps —

Just use the same tools, same aesthetics and same approaches that have been done in the past… and strive to innovate in terms of our subject-matter, our perspective, or our soul.

Or in other words:

Disregard whether your photos or projects have been ‘done before’ or not. Just do what you love.



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