The Magic of Thinking Big in Photography

The Magic of Thinking Big in Photography

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You want to be the best photographer you can. You’re constantly trying to educate yourself, improve, and take your photography to the next level. But how can you take your photography to new heights, and stand out from the crowd?
The secret is thinking big.

If you look at successful individuals outside of photography such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Larry Page – what do these leaders have in common? How were they able to leverage their strengths, continuously add value to the world, and become successful at what they do?

In the book “Bold”, author Peter Diamandis shared the three attributes he thought they all had in common:

  1. Passion
  2. Purpose
  3. Curiosity

In this article you will learn how you can better leverage passion, purpose, and curiosity to take your photography to the next level.

1. Passion

Passion is having this fire burning inside yourself — that you would do something (even if it didn’t earn you any money). You are passionate about doing things by which you feel intrinsically motivated (rather than extrinsically).

For example, let’s do a thought experiment – if you were suddenly given one billion dollars, and didn’t have to work another day in your life, what would you do with the rest of your life?

Personally for me, I am insanely passionate about street photography, education, and sharing knowledge. Even before I was able to do street photography workshops full-time to support myself, I was running a blog out of the pure joy of it (in order to help others), while I was working a full-time job.

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So what are you passionate about?

I assume if you’re reading this article, you are passionate about photography. But what kind of photography really turns you on? Is it street photography? Is it landscape photography? Is it portrait photography? What really gets you up in the morning and calls you to be photographed?

To be frank, passion is something you can’t fake. You either have it, or you don’t. But we all have things we are passionate about, especially when it comes to photography. So don’t ask others what they think would make an interesting photograph, just follow what you are passionate about, and photograph whatever inspires you.

2. Purpose

It isn’t enough to simply be passionate about what you do. If you want to be persistent with your work and your art, you need to have a strong sense of purpose. So how can you apply the concept of purpose to your photography?

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Well, you’ve got to make photos that aren’t just for yourself, but photos that you hope will influence, move, and change others.

So for example, the reason I am drawn to street photography is because I feel that the images I make are purposeful. The images I make try to explore the human condition — how people feel and interact with the world. I wish to make images that my viewers can empathize with on an emotional level.

Even if you’re not into street photography, let’s say you’re into landscape photography, how do you find landscape photography meaningful? Ansel Adams was passionate about nature, but also felt that he had a purpose to protect and conserve it. So the purpose of his photography was to connect with nature on an almost spiritual level, to show the world how beautiful these national parks were, and how they needed to be protected.

So think to yourself — how are your photographs meaningful to you, and how do they serve a purpose by inspiring others?

At the end of the day, if your photos serve a purpose to make you happy, that is good enough. But then again, you may also wish to make photographs that have a social purpose that will help inspire, influence, and move others.

3. Curiosity

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The sad thing is that when we are children we are infinitely curious, but that curiosity dies off when we are adults. You can be as passionate and purposeful with your photography as you want, but unless you are curious, you won’t continue breaking new ground and evolving as a photographer.

Curiosity is following your intuition, your gut. Curiosity is following whatever you find interesting. Curiosity is like a bottomless pit — the more you feed it, the more curious you become (which in my opinion is a good thing).

So if you currently shoot flowers and are curious to try out street photography — follow your curiosity and check it out. If you currently shoot street photography but want to get into fashion — follow your curiosity and check that out. If you shoot digital and want to try film, ask your parents or your friends for an old film camera and give it a go.

Curiosity is the only thing in life worth following, to keep us alive creatively as artists and visual poets.

Conclusion

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I can guarantee you if you follow these three things (passion, purpose, curiosity) — your work will excel. You will continue to make more photographs, they will be meaningful, and your work will become more complex and advanced as time goes on.

The secret to becoming a great photographer comes down to hard work, putting in the time, and making more images that continue to challenge you.

But at the same time, you want to be like a child in following your curiosity and not taking yourself too seriously.

Try to find a mix of hustling hard in photography, and having a good time. Stick with this recipe, you will really become the best photographer you can, and achieve all your dreams.

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Eric Kim an international street photographer, educator, and blogger. His passion is teaching street photography workshops and building communities all around the globe. You can connect over on his blog Eric Kim Street Photography or see his portfolio on his website.