You can call it the “Intelligent Eye”. The ability of you, the photographer, to see something unique, unusual or comical in your surroundings, then have the awareness to capture it for storytelling. With practice, you can develop the skill of capturing those interesting moments or opportunities, that many would miss or otherwise ignore. As a result, your photography will stand out from the rest because it will be distinctive and specific to your own personal experience. It’s good to be different! Read on to get tips for creating more unique images.
Okay, so how do you achieve, or improve this ability to see unique things, and all of the interesting opportunities in your environment?
TIP #1 – Practice Observing
Practice observing. To be great at just about anything requires practice, or actually doing that thing. Yes, some people have natural talents and they don’t require extensive practice, but for others, myself included, practice is the best way to improve.
Take some time, daily if you can, and throw yourself into a busy street (not literally!) and observe. Walk slowly, or sit, and simply observe your environment. Notice the colours, shadows, words, and the things people do. People do the most fascinating things if you pay attention.
My only gripe is people staring at their smart phones, and yes, I can be guilty of that at times too. Imagine all of the interesting things people could be doing, if only they put down their phones. Of course, they may say the same thing about us standing there with our cameras.
Focus on the smallest of details. Maybe you notice someone walking across the street without shoes, or someone with interesting hair or clothes, or maybe there is nothing interesting and that’s okay too. Move on, remain aware of your environment, and keep practicing the skill of observation. Over time, you will begin to notice more opportunities for some great photographs, and you’ll make unique images.
TIP#2 – Practice Without a Camera
More practice. Okay, this may seem redundant, but I’m talking about practice without a camera. You can practice this skill at any time, no matter where you are in the world, or what you are doing. Carefully observe and study your environment.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something clever or interesting, and got a little frustrated because I didn’t have a camera. You must begin to make a habit out of always observing, seeking out the unusual, studying the world and people around you.
Keep in mind, the greatest artists become obsessed with their work, so make it a habit to always be focused on your skill of seeing, with or without a camera. Over time, you will be amazed at how many things you would have missed or ignored without this improved skill.
TIP #3 – Be Different
It’s good to be different. Share your work, and enjoy the works of others, but please, don’t become overly concerned about how many likes or hearts or comments you get. It’s not important! You can conform, and begin to manipulate your work to become popular and fit with what is expected, or you can be original and create something unique to your own personal experience and creative spirit.
There are some great online communities, but it’s disappointing to see so many works of art looking the same, lacking originality. Yes, the basics of post-processing are important, but it will be difficult for you to stand out from the crowd if your artwork looks the same as every other artist.
Capturing your unique experience and environment will help you stand out. You may or may not become famous, but at least you had the courage to be different, to tap into your own unique creative abilities. Finally, embrace your uniqueness, and remember that life is complex and messy, so it’s okay to create photographs not in line with what is expected. Focus on tapping into your personal and unique creative spirit.
TIP #4 – Be Present
This is the most important tip. Enjoy living and creating in the present moment as much as possible. Whether you are in the field, in a darkroom, or behind a computer – get lost in the moment, focus on your environment and enjoy the experience of life and witnessing the world as it unfolds.
Do you have any other tips for finding and creating more unique images? Please share in the comments below.