What makes a photo unique?

What makes a photo unique?

When creating images we want to stand out. In a world where we see hundreds of images everyday and everyone has a camera in their pocket, how do you create a definitive and recognizable style as a photographer? Where people know it's your photo from just one look! Uniqueness and originality can come from a few places so we've decided to look at a few.

Defining your Subject

Most importantly what subject are you focused on. Are you a wildlife photographer, landscape photographers, portrait photographer, event photographer or photo journalist? From here you could go deeper to further define your uniqueness. If you're a wildlife photographer do you photograph birds, safari animals? Maybe a specific species or geographically specific bird such as the Common Loon in BC or Raptors of the PNW. These can be tell tale signs of your works to give them recognizably and originality when placed amongst other images. Finding a strong subject can provide a large leap in your photography as even an OK photo of a great subject is a great photo. Shoot smart not hard!

Photo: Brain Kraus

Lighting and Perspective

Do you mostly work with heavily contrasted light or do you focus more on bright even soft light? Do you go in for extreme close-ups focusing on details or more of a wider natural environmental compositions? Working out these details or at least understanding them about yourself can help define your style, originality, and recognizably.

Photo Below: Roger Brendhagan (CC Brand Ambassador)

Editing style

This plays into the lighting and perspective idea from before. Do you crop in tight or leave your photos un-cropped. Keep the photo with a natural look to it or push the colors and contrast to a defined image. Some create a more stylized look that is more clearly an edited final image. These factors can also depend upon how and where you are displaying your images but should be semi consistent in a body of work to define your unique style.

Photo below : Samuel Cotton


Finding a story to tell is an important factor in defining a style. It can be as simple as a pretty picture, a visually stunning place, or something more emotional, a direct photo journalistic story. Adding this personalized depth to images really helps them stand out from the others. Adding more key details (or maybe less?) leads the viewer into the story you are portraying. Research and understanding can play a large roll in this factor. The more details and story you are aware of before heading out to shoot will resonate in the final images.

Below : Cotton Carrier Harness for camera & binoculars


A great photographer may say a camera's a camera and gear shouldn't count to much. That same photographer can also tell you his favorite camera and lens in an instant. These things do play a roll in defining a style. A telephoto, an 85mm, a wide angle or the classic 50mm. All these lenses have properties that create different perspectives you can refine. Find your solid set up that you LOVE and learn the perimeters with it. Some great wildlife photographers like Will Burrard-Lucas create their own ingenious camera inventions, such as the remote control camera. Andy Cotton, Cotton Carrier CEO, with his line of camera harnesses and holsters. Investing in some amazing glass and accessories or inventing your own can give you an edge in the field.