How to Find Your Unique Voice As a Photographer

It’s not just enough to be good – you’ve got to find your own unique voice. The question is – how?

how to create your own voice in your photos

Photo by Wendell; ISO 162.

This article will take you though several things that you can to do help you discover and carve out your own one-of-a-kind path as a photographer.

1. Focus on what interests you

This may seem obvious, but there are still a lot of people who go about this all the wrong way. They ask themselves, “What field of photography has the most demand right now? What area will be the most lucrative?” And then they go out and try to fit themselves into that picture.

But you will never be as successful doing this as you could be taking pictures of what interests you.

Why? Because when you are interested in something, you will enjoy it more. You will go out of your way to portray it in a good light. You will be more creative and want to try new things. This is so important and yet most people don’t even think twice about it.

If you love food, take pictures of food. If you are an animal whisperer, maybe you would adore being a pet photographer. If there’s nothing in the world that feeds your soul like going for a hike, you would probably make an excellent nature or landscape photographer.

When you are passionate about what you do, it is a simple fact that your joy will propel you forward. You will not be dragging yourself out of bed, you will be leaping from the mattress full of excitement and enthusiasm, and that in turn will carry over into your work.

2. Ask yourself: “How could I do this in another way?”

This powerful question will get your mind working on new possibilities. Though you may not have an epiphany each time you ask yourself this, you are always encouraging your brain to make new pathways and connections. And every once in a while, you will have an “ah-HA!” that makes it all worthwhile.

If you are serious about photography, you should always be taking pictures of what you are most passionate about. But it’s also just as beneficial to try new things and take pictures of different subjects, too. This doesn’t necessarily mean forcing yourself to take pictures of things that you aren’t interested in, but finding ways of taking pictures of anything in such a way that you find it interesting. It pushes you to always stay fresh and always continue learning and growing. Reading books and taking classes is fine, but I believe that the best teacher is firsthand experience. If you are continually searching for new subjects and new ways of photographing them then you are keeping yourself on your toes, and you work will never become stale.

Passion and excitement are the fires that fuel brilliance, and in order to keep that flame stoked you will need to look for ways to keep your own interest pulsing within you. I know from firsthand experience that when I go out and do something I’ve never done before with my photography I take a giant creative leap and everything that I learn carries over into each project I take on next.

how to put personality in photos

Photo by Wayne Stadler; ISO 200,f/5.6, 1/125-second exposure.

3. Avoid the #1 creativity killer

Contrary to popular belief, reading more books and taking more classes does not always make you a better photographer. Don’t get me wrong; they can be incredibly helpful tools that help you learn and grow – to an extent. However, there is a point that most photographers reach where studying and learning stops being helpful and becomes counterproductive. How do you know that you’ve reached that point?

When you find yourself critiquing and criticizing your work more than you are simply enjoying it.

You might be thinking, “Now wait a minute. Hold on. Critiquing helps me to get better! That’s how I learn. I see what worked, what didn’t, and I can correct and improve.”

Yes, in an ideal world. And usually this works in moderation. However, I’ve seen more photographers shut themselves down long before they ever truly delved into their potential because of this #1 creativity-killer: perfectionism. They over-analyze all of the details of their photos, attempting to make everything in each one of them just right.

Photography is not supposed to be perfect. There are technical tools that we can use to improve our photographs, but they are only that: tools – not rules. Just like people, photos are technically imperfect – and yet that’s what makes them so beautiful. Each photo is an impression of a moment in time that will never again be recaptured. And only you, from your unique viewpoint, have the ability to take that picture.

Some of the most famous photos, considered by many to be the best of the best, have imperfections! In fact, most of them do! Not only that, everyone has different tastes. Something that one person might call a “problem area” might be the reason that someone else LOVES that exact same photo. Are you going to deprive dozens of people the enjoyment of your art simply because one person said “this part isn’t in perfect focus.” Screw focus! Seriously!

photography voice

Photo by Robert Cross; ISO 200, f/1.7, 1/1250-second exposure.

If you take the picture and you like it, then what anyone else says doesn’t matter. The “rules” are great to a certain extent, and then after that they start to hinder you. You may discover that you like those blurry abstract photos more than the ones in crisp, clear focus. And you might just find that there are a lot of other people out there who love this type of photography and would even hang it on their wall. But if you stop after that first blurry photo because some teacher or even just random person said that it makes it a bad photo, you may have just shut down the possibility of an incredible photography career because you limited yourself to the same box that everyone else lives in.

Stop trying to make your photos adhere to everyone else’s rules, and they will stop looking like everyone else’s photos.

The true “greats” in any field not only break the rules, but reinvent them.

4. Take photos every single day

Most photographers believe that searching for the problems and imperfections is not just the best way to improve, but the only way to improve. I disagree. Although this can be helpful to an extent, it is way more beneficial to just go out and take photos.

In fact, this is the best way to get good at anything: do it. Over and over and over and over and over again. By doing it, you train yourself to see the beauty in things and intuitively find the best angles. You get to the point where you don’t even have to think about it any more because it comes so naturally.

Take hundreds of photos. Don’t limit yourself. Yes, you can ask yourself as you are taking the picture, “How can I make this better? How can I frame this in order to enhance the features that I want?” But in this day and age, there’s no excuse not to take a photo if something catches your eye. With a digital camera, there are no negative consequences for filling up your memory card (unless you don’t have another one and still need to take more photos.) The more you take, the more selection you have to choose from.

create your unique voice in your photography

Photo by Hansel and Regrettal; ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/160-second exposure.

Some of my very favorite photos that I’ve taken were simply on a whim. I saw something and thought, “hmm, I like that. I don’t know if it’ll make a very good photo, but there’s only one way to find out.” Click, click, click, click…. click. I’ll take the same picture from a few different angles. I’ll zoom out, zoom in, try different things. And often the one that I took as an extra is the very best one.

Try different things! Take the “technically correct” photo. Then break ALL off the rules! That’s how you step outside of the box and do new things.

Oh, and avoid those stupid forums where photographers sit around critique each others’ work. Well, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I’ve learned to stay away from them. People spend more time critiquing photos than they do taking them, and they’ve gotten so good at looking for problems that they see them everywhere. I’ve uploaded pieces of my best work to those sites, pieces are well loved by my agent, the design industry, my followers, and gotten critiques like, “Sorry, but there are parts of this that aren’t in focus. It’s just confusing and the photo doesn’t work.” Then other people rave over it and hang it on their wall and treasure it.

Just because one person says it doesn’t mean it’s true. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. Photography should be first and foremost, fun!

5. Don’t worry if you “miss” opportunities

Every photographer experiences those moments when we miss that perfect shot. That rare species of eagle (so to speak) flies over our head and we weren’t ready, or the exposure wasn’t right, or we got the shot, but it was blurry, and so on. I’ve seen a lot of people spend hours, and even occasionally days, agonizing over what they missed.

Photography isn’t how many shots you get or miss, it’s about how many you take – and keep taking. I have missed thousands of great shots – and screwed up thousands more. I take more “bad” photos than good, and though I do feel disappointed sometimes when I really wanted to get something and it didn’t work out, I always shrug my shoulders and say, “hey, it wasn’t meant to be.” Then I get out my camera, and go take some more pictures.

I can’t even tell you how many times I tried to get pictures of a bird of prey feasting on it’s dinner, and the shots didn’t turn out. I had so many “missed” opportunities. And then one day I looked out my grandmother’s kitchen window and just two yards away was this hawk eating a mouse. Because of the window between us, I was able to get as close as I wanted without scaring the bird away. There are always more opportunities.

When you have the attitude of not worrying about whether you get a shot or not and just enjoy the process, you invite more opportunities in. Life becomes magical.

6. Take photos because you love to – for no other reason

The #1 most important thing you can do to improve your photos and find your unique voice is to HAVE FUN!

Is it really that simple? Yes, yes, and yes!

When you are having fun and trying new things and exploring and enjoying yourself, you are naturally more creative. Ideas will occur to you that you never thought of before. Things will naturally fall into place. Having fun is the key to being good. Seriously.

Taking beautiful photographs is something that comes from the heart, not the mind. So many photographers spend all their energy researching the perfect equipment and collecting fancy lenses and filters. They strive for the technically perfect photo, and if they don’t achieve it they criticize their own work and hide it away.

Before I started photography, I don’t think I ever truly saw what was around me. In a sense, I was walking blind through my world, never noticing how pretty the cracks in the sidewalk were, or just how many colors there are in a single flower. To me, that’s the gift of photography; not the end result, but the ability to see the beauty of the world around me in a new way, and have the chance to capture it and share it with others. I do it for the joy of it, and if other people can share in that joy then it is wonderful. Still, even if others don’t, photography has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Photography is a journey. If you are trying to create work in order to sell it, you are probably over-thinking it. If you do it because you love it, you are creating what comes from your heart and soul. Do it because taking photos makes you feel good, and people will see it and like it because it resonates with them, and makes them feel good.

how to develop your unique eye in photography

Photo by Susanne Nilsson; ISO 400, f/5.0, 1/13-second exposure.

7. Get inspired!

Being truly unique is about getting all of the other voices out of your head about what you could do and what you should do and how things are supposed to be done. It’s about quieting all your thoughts and then listening to the stillness and the silence where all of the new ideas are and getting in touch with your spirit. This is where you will hear the inspiration that will cause you to make uncommon connections and spawn new and great creations.

Do those things that feed your soul – eat delicious foods, read inspiring books, spend time with creative people, listen to music that transports you to a whole new world. It is often in those moments when you are simply enjoying life that the best ideas occur or you have the most wonderful photo opportunities.

Those very things that inspire you are often hints and nudges in the direction that you could take your photography to move it to the next level.

About the Author:
Tien Frogget ( is a third generation artist with a passion for creativity and beauty. She is a virtual renaissance woman and enjoys a wide variety of creative media besides photography, including painting, writing, filmmaking, music, cooking, dancing, and graphic design. It is the diversity of her experiences and passion for living that fills her creations with unique perspective.

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40 responses to “How to Find Your Unique Voice As a Photographer”

  1. Lisa Anderson says:

    I truly loved reading this article. It really makes you stop and think about how you are taking pictures and what you want to get out of it. Times we get so wrapped up with wanting that perfect picture, but realizing that you are not the only photographer who struggles is reassuring. For me my true passion is photography and being able to capture a moment in a way that no one else was able to see, makes it all worth while.

  2. Ann Courtney says:

    I agree with you 200% I can say no more!

  3. matt n says:

    Thanks for the article! You’ve nailed it right on the head it seems. The whole part about being a “perfectionist” definitely rings true to myself and my own work. I find I stifle myself a lot more because of it. I’m going to try and take your advice to heart and just keep shooting because I love doing it and stop being so hyper-critical of my own work. Much obliged!

  4. Kenton Brede says:

    Thanks for writing this. My wife is always telling me to stop being so critical of my photography. This article leads me to believe I should listen to her. :)

    One thing about finding your unique voice, that can also be something to stress over. Personally I’ve chosen to mostly ignore “finding a voice” or “style” at this time. I think it’s something that will just emerge, maybe I’m wrong. I’m new to photography though, so my main focus at this time is just learning how to do the basics well.

  5. This article touch me! I have found many answers to what have been on my mind for the last weeks.

  6. Payal says:

    Thanks for reminding us to have fun – it’s pretty to get caught up in the technicalities of the process and equipment (though beginners do need to spend time learning it). I think though that overall, your article reflects your positive mindset, which in itself is important for attaining “success” in most aspects of life. Your article made me want to skip a step! :)

    Kenton – I worry about my unique voice too, but then I realize I’m considering it from the commercial perspective (easy to get carried away daydreaming). However, I’ve found that people who have looked at my work, end up commenting on my style, and I seemed to have missed that “label” completely. It’s kind of fun, actually!

  7. red villaranda says:

    wonderful…now it truly open my eyes on what photography really is… i couldnt agree more

  8. medardo b. codilan says:

    A very nice article! It makes me more confident and inspired!

    Thank you!

  9. I loved this! I have saved it and will pass it along to all my students. Wonderful words of wisdom!

  10. Beth says:

    What an inspirational article. thank you so much for writing it and inspiring me. Do you know that I have always refused to allow my Exif info to be shown for fear that I would be criticised but after reading your article I have decided it doesn’t matter what others think. I have no formal training but I LOVE photography and thats the most important thing. Thank you.

  11. Nice and true – take photos because you love to and no other reason. Liking it

  12. Sina says:

    It’s really helpful!

  13. Kevin Brine says:

    Simply the finest article I have read, to date, which will help improve anyone’s photography.

  14. Kenneth Embalsado says:

    You are a true artist. I loved reading this.

  15. Brian Byrne says:

    Agree with a lot of this article. I do my photography for me if anyone else happens to like what i do well its a bonus. But in saying that if one wishes to sell ones work there seems to be an unwritten law that every thing should be perfectly in focus and as sharp as a razor.
    When I first got interested in photography nearly forty years ago. when all we had was film.
    The man that sold my first camera have me some advice i now pass this advice on to you who may be interested.
    He said” Film is cheap a good photograph is worth millions”
    The millions he re-faired to was not monetary but more the satisfaction of the end result.
    In Th’s digital age photograpic images are even cheaper than when i used film But the worth millions still holds up.
    So be different always strive to do better. But don’t be afraid to make mistakes its the best way to learn.
    If you ever read anything about photography then read your camera manual first.
    some of my photographs can be viewed on youtube under aviewphotography.

  16. This is a truly inspiring article and I feel motivated to pick up my camera and rush outside :-)

    Great writing, thank you.

  17. Sebastian says:

    Thanks for this inspiring article!

  18. Tiberman Sajiwan Ramyead says:

    Now, here is a lady who is not only a good photographer; she is good writer too! The article is refreshing, informative and inspiring for D-SLR beginners like me. I’ll make it a point to quote a few striking lines from this article in my own book; with her prior kind permission, of course. It reminds of a point my late music guru used to pump into: Music is for man’s sake and not for music’s sake.

    Tiberman – Mauritius

  19. Jayesh says:

    I loved the way you explained and pointed every aspect of the matter.
    The influence has worked on me.

    Thank you for the help, ma’am.

  20. Jerry says:

    Hi Tien,
    What a wonderful and liberating article, I completely agree with every word you have written!!

    7yrs ago I closed my extremely successful photo studio in Manchester as the pressurised production deadlines that came with the introduction of digital cameras and computer post processing effectively eroded my creative vision.

    Since then I have been wandering the world shooting many different subjects using only black and white film……………currently I live very simply in Thailand.

    Excellent article spoken truly from your heart!!

  21. shay says:

    thats is an amazing photo its beauriful . well done

  22. Great post, this is something inspiring to any photographer like me. I think creative vision is key to successful photography. Above pictures are truly amazing and tips are pretty useful as well. Cheers.

  23. Brett says:

    Great article. Especially love the perfectionist part. I wrote something similar on sharpness on my Facebook page (, NOT a business page, just fun).

    How “perfect” does a photo have to be? Do you like it? Does your intended audience like it? If yes to both, mission accomplished.

  24. Just what I needed today after some harrowing criticism of my work at a course last night! I came home feeling very deflated… but after reading this I feel so much better. Thank you – inspiring. F

  25. Mark says:

    WoW!! This article was very inspiring for me. I always wanted to know where I was in this ” WORLD OF PHOTOGRAPHY” and I found it in nature and landscape photography. Nature is always changing right before your eyes and to be able to capture the change in clouds or color of the sun setting in the sky is beautiful. And yes, I’ve missed a lot of ” OMG SHOTS”!! , and reading your article made me realize to keep goin’. At the moment I’m unable to go out and take photos due to the C.L.L. (chronic lymphocytic leukemia), has kept me down but i continue to go through old landscape and nature shots to come up with new pieces. Thanks you so much. Glad I ran across PictureCorrect for the articles inside have helped me greatly!!

  26. Daniel Chong says:

    Hi Tein, this is by far the one article I will read and read and read again till the end of photography.

    You have articulated what, how and why on photography in such an accessible way that it leaves me inspired, energised and uplifted. I will share your light with others.

    Tein, thanks for the eternal encouragement.

  27. I found this blog article very motivating. At times I found myself nodding in agreement with all that was stated here.

    The point that stuck out for me was that of enough training/leaning. I too agree that too much stifles your creativity and can even do harm to who you truly are as a photographer. Yes… classes are good and no they are not going to make you special. Your creativity will make you special.

    Thanks for a great “inspiring” article.

    Spencer McDonald

  28. marisa says:

    This really helped me because just today like literally 15 minutes ago I got shut down.. but not completely. At school I wanted(still want) to be in AP Studio Art and I had to talk to the teacher and show her some personal work that I have done to get into the class. She was really nice about it and she told there is potential in my photos that I have taken, but she said that there really isn’t a voice because they were just scattered photos of people, buildings, etc. It really brought me down and I am still totally bummed, but reading this article really helped me feel better because although she somewhat critiqued me it made me realize that I can of course learn from that and what not.

  29. Kyle Y. says:

    Although I love lots of the points you brought up here, I feel a few of the more novice or naive may take this as stone and chisel rather than with a grain of salt. Art is certainly subjective as far as finding your place in its world. I know the best way to find your place in what you do is simply never giving up and making sure it’s the reason you wake up in the morning. Even that may not work for everyone though, I know it worked for me. Either way, my point is that everyone should try to look for style and purpose on the own, though that put aside I do like the article you have here, keep up the good work!

  30. Really i’m impressed to read this article. It make me more confident for good photograph editing work. I have read more topic here but i think take photo every single day it’s very important to increase your confident. Thank you for good article.

  31. Raj says:

    This is the best article I have read on this subject of finding yourself in photography.
    Thank you so much for a sincere dissertation on this elusive subject.
    I will save this article to reflect and also share with usher photographers.
    Thank you, thank you.

  32. abdullah al saif says:

    inspiration.. yes thats too much helpful

  33. John Carston says:

    As someone who would like to improve their art I’ve found your photography tips to be very helpful. I like you first tip to focus on what interests me, but especially where you mention to avoid the creativity killer of being overly critical of my work to the point where it can seem unenjoyable. As I work harder on my craft I’ll need to keep all these great tips in mind for finding my unique voice.

  34. AMP says:

    Your 6-th point the point. There’s too many photographers nowadays just “doing their job”. They should do it with love and passion! It’s art, you have to do it with love and passion.

  35. Annie E. says:

    I struggle with defining the kind of photographer that I am. I believed that by doing a little bit of everything our business would boom. However I realized doing a little bit of everything and trying to meet the “professional” standards is exhausying. I can’t bring myself to say that I truly enjoy photographing a little bit everything. After reading your article I now see myself and what I wish my work to be in a whole different light. This was an amazing article and I will forever remember it and refrence it when I speak about how I became the photographer that I wish to be.
    Thank you!

  36. I agree, finding your unique voice is very important in photography. Especially letting your passion through show. As with anything, you would be more successful if you follow your passion than money.

  37. Yao says:

    I think your “title” says everything as imo finding an unique voice is very important in term of capturing the perfect moment. As a wedding photographer myself I find that the ability to capture and having your own unique style is what set you apart. Thanks again for your post! Yao.

  38. justin says:

    I need to do more shooting more often. I like the take shots daily tip. It’d be cool to see what kind of stuff one could come up with.

  39. Really good article. I think I need to go outside and take more photographs everyday. I feel only watching photographs taken by others is not good enough.

  40. EP says:

    Omg.. EVERY single word you wrote in the article is what I was thinking in my head but didnt know how to express. I agree with each point and I will let this article remind me why I started photograpgy whenever I face that ‘creativity killer’ . Thank you so much for your post!

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