How to be different...Just like everybody else

I have seen a lot of posts on social media and blogs about finding "inspiration" and keeping the "creative spark". This conversation is usually accompanied by (or along with) "How do I make myself stand out? How do I make my images better?"

What can you do? What will make you develop your own style? What will make you stand out among your peers? What will make you truly better yourself?

Just keep taking pictures.

How many of you have seen images of the iconic Multnomah Falls in the Columbia Gorge of Oregon? If you do a Google Image search for Multnomah Falls (Click here to see do it) you will see an incredible amount of images spanning every imaginable viewpoint and theme and time of year.

By John Ramer Photography
Falls in Winter

I choose the falls because it is by far the easiest for me to demonstrate the difference between a "snapshot" and "fine art image". Looking back through my own collection of images I have shot from here I can see the progression from mediocre to gradually more and more polished and representative of my individual style.

Most snapshots captured here are by cameras in your phones or tablets. Quick selfies to document a memory of a time you visited a place... Not much more and rarely worth framing.

Snapshots make up most
images from here.

With even the littlest bit of planning and preparation you can capture an image worthy of framing. My example is this - I had seen a lot of great images captured that included the pedestal and sign. I thought that this was an image worthy of replication so I made the trip out to capture it. The image below is my interpretation of the images I had seen.

A little planning and a tripod
make an idea a reality.

Now after I was satisfied that I got the shot I went for what do you suppose I did? Wrap it up and go home to bask in the glow of success? Nope, not even close. I kept shooting, looking for new angles and better light. The image below was taken minutes after the one above. In my opinion they are both images worth showing, I have posted both previously on social media sites. The above image was received warmly and shared around a little bit... The image below was record setting for me on social media a matter of hours after posting.

Just keep shooting.....

by John Ramer Photography
Multnomah Falls at Sunset

When I first got into photography, and I mean really into it, I would look at others photos and think "I can do that" and then set out to find out how. Not find out "If" but to find out "How". I shut my mouth and opened my eyes and ears to how other photographers were doing things... If somebody had an image I wanted to emulate - I watched, I learned and then did it myself. I continue this to this day. There is not a single photographer out there that I cannot learn something from.

One of my go to pastimes for finding a bit of inspiration is looking at sites like 500px and trying to figure out how some of the top images were edited. It can be difficult to get past the content of the image because of the exotic locations or beautiful models but once you can see the image for the technical side you can almost "reverse engineer" it and look at an endless supply of editing and lighting techniques. This is also a good way to keep up on upcoming trends in photography.

To date the greatest personal discovery I have made through photography is that there is always somebody doing something I am not - and I probably want to. I love watching and learning and trying to do something new and for me that means being open to new things and not being afraid to fail.

This is all, of course, just the ramblings of a single photographer... There are so very many ways to find inspiration and individuality. Though, in my humble opinion, they all involve you to just keep shooting.... Your style, your uniqueness, your emotion will become more and more visible and you will become different. Just like everybody else.

I would love to hear some of your ideas and sources for inspiration in the comments section.

John Ramer
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