Me too. Being original in an over-saturated market can feel impossible. As a wedding photographer growing a business, I can tell you that I’ve been there time and time again and I’m here to help.
Now, before you continue reading I want you to sink into your seat a little deeper and read slowly because I’m about to preach some really inspirational content: RULES ARE FOR SQUARES. I said it. This is something I don’t hear a lot of. Words like ‘innovative’. I think that can be attributed to the fact that consistency is a hot topic in the creative business world. So, stay with me here. What I’m really saying? Being original is the new Black.
Now, consistency and systems in your creative business are GREAT. I mean, really great. Hundred of benefits, and I don’t think you need to hear one more person saying something you already know. Be consistent. You already know that. But on top of consistency, make sure you’re also fueling your creativity and your wild side.
You know what catches my attention, and most likely yours too, the most? When people do something unexpected. They make something seemingly simple that changes life even in a microscopic way. Now, just for emphasis, I’m going to say it one more time: u n e x p e c t e d. Okay, so you want to think of something outside the box- how do you even do that?! How do you even know what people are expecting of you? Well, if you’re a wedding photographer there is a good chance they are expecting wedding photos for example.
I don’t want to say I have all the answers, but I’m here to kick your butt into shape so you can start thinking about it. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to create something new.
Shaking up your every day mojo can sound, well… impossible! Maybe you don’t feel super creative sometimes, which I can relate to. You’ve spent all this time (possibly years) creating a SYSTEM and I’m here all “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”. Don’t only address the fact that consistency is important in your business. Don’t forget that your business is built on ideas and creation. And that’s just as important in my opinion.
Not everything is about a workflow after all. I mean… if I talked to you for an hour about how to create a new idea you’d all be at the edge of your seat. If I talked to you about systems you’d either be one of two things: a nerd like me and taking notes, or you’d be skipping lines or asleep. You get the point.
Before I dive in, I want to say I LOVE systems and I’m not telling you to start from square one and drop those steps that you implemented to get your life back, I’m simply here to help fuel the creative side of your business journey. In fact, I hope you can just break out of your creative shell even just a little so you can maybe add some new steps to what you’re already doing or maybe even realize you NEED TO MIX IT UP.
You created your business in your head and you can do whatever you want to stop trying to be like everyone else. You can do whatever you want to stop trying to be like everyone else. Stop trying to be like everyone else. Also, stop trying to be like everyone else.
Easier said than done when you base your business off of someone else’s.
Next, I want to give you the low-down and some cold hard truth. Some of these imaginary rules that you’ve created for yourself in your business may be holding you back and hurting your interaction rates, not to mention your wallet. Also where is the fun in some step-by-step book for everything?
Steps like thinking you can’t post an amazing image you took and love because you can only post images with a ton of white on your Instagram as you need to be a light and airy photographer. Ben Sasso is one of my favorite examples of this. He used to work similar to other wedding photographers, but now he’s creating only for himself. I think his work is totally different from his old work, and he blew up. His work really shows that creative fuel at work- check him out!
That’s another topic for another day. Today we’re talking about being original.
Seriously. I want you to get lost on Instagram, click photographer after photographer and just jot down why any of them stand out to you. I’d have a hard time, because its seeming like we’re all the SAME. It seems like if one successful person has a successful Instagram feed then everyone copies it directly.
When you start looking for things like “fine art film wedding photographer” you come upon feed after feed and it starts to all be a blur of gorgeous images with nothing standing out. Everyone is incredible and talented, yet the same. It’s like… how do you even tell them apart without the branding? I don’t know the answer, because the talent in our little creative world is nowhere close to coming short of our clients’ expectations. You photographers out there are amazing.
So, if you’re talented and you know it- I’m so proud of you and I can’t imagine how long it took you to get here. Take a moment to really appreciate how far you’ve come. Be proud of who you are now. Then take a look at a white piece of paper and say “what else?”. I think it’s important to be grateful, but also keep moving the needle.
I’m going to give you an example. You have 100 white squares and you have 1 square with a gorgeous floral print on it. I tell you that you can pick only one square…I bet I can guess which square you’ll choose. Simply because it sticks out to you. People like to feel like they have something one of a kind and special, so be just that. Even during creating my website I struggled so hard with being “perfect” – whatever that even is. I think if I’m being honest I had to fight fitting it, because to me that was perfect. But who likes a perfect white square anyways? Minimalists, I guess?
Not really. I don’t believe so. This is really important in the step to being original. Ironic, I know. I may not believe in complete originality, but for the sake of this argument, I DO believe people can create something influenced by multiple sources of influence. These ideas that combine together to create something magical and new. Which is one of the many reasons I love watching Shark Tank. (Can I get an Amen in the house?)
Stealing someone’s idea and pretending they are original (sometimes with a twist added) or pssttt….they come up with a new idea. It might not be the world’s first light bulb, but maybe it’s a topic that no one is teaching about yet. A perfect example is my super-cool friend Brooke Michelle who created an article on being more inclusive in your business after searching for it on Pinterest and finding basically nothing.
Those rules you’re surrounding yourself with may actually be doing more harm than good to your business and paralyzing your creativity and ultimately, success. The people that are most memorable to me when I hop off of apps are the influencers who aren’t part of my feed. They are doing something that catches my eye, and I bet you can agree.
I want to just give a super recent example that I’ve noticed just this past month. I’ve been following a photographer named Wyn for just a few months and after he posted a video of his alter ego Pattie Gonia hiking mountains “all while in death-defyingly tall and skinny boots”. (I’m assuming to let out his inner weirdo and have a ton of fun with it) and I’m the biggest fan ever. FREAKING FERGIE POSTED IT. Being original has never been so fabulous.
He was on Mashable and you can read all about that here, It totally went viral and he gained tens of thousands of followers seemingly overnight and I think it’s because he shook up the box and did something DIFFERENT. Do yourself a favor, follow this goddess living unapologetically, because she is a queen.
Fear? Yup. Ugh, save me ANOTHER talk about getting over the fear, right?! Ironically, I agree with them in a lot of ways. You should too. How many ideas have you had? Thousands. How many ideas have you wrote down and took an action step towards? Not many. Dismissing your ideas is the death of creativity. There are people WAYYY less qualified than you that are doing something YOU want to do, simply because they believe in what they offer.
What I fear most is that I won’t be approaching an idea in the correct direction. This leads to more fear of failure in the process of actually getting to the end result. Who even knows what the end result is actually going to look like. As a human, I have a love-hate relationship with structure and find myself more easily approaching an idea if I have a step-by-step tutorial.
Guess what? Life doesn’t have one. You probably have heard this saying before, but actually consider that to be a blessing. Let it free you.
That idea that you have? Are you being original? What if you just started? Even if it doesn’t mean being totally original, the first step is trying things to figure out new ideas along the way. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably be all inspired and in 10 minutes you’re going to get off of here and continue to be totally paralyzed. Frozen at the idea of not following the structure of every other person who is in the same field as you. All that inspiration will leave you and nothing will come of it. So do it right now. Take 5 minutes of your 1440 minutes that you have today to just do SOMETHING.
Here’s a few things you can do to start RIGHT now:
The first thing I suggest you do to start your journey is to invest in one of my favorite books. I’ve personally read it and it’s such an easy read with a ton of great content. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Some of my favorite inspirations are brands that are NOTHING like mine. Start following some feeds, artists, and even topics that you’re interested in that aren’t anything like you. Stop looking towards similar people for inspiration.
Intentional downtime. My best ideas are when I don’t have any other option but to think. An airplane and the shower are two of my favorite places to think. Taking an expo marker and a towel into your shower can be a great way to make sure your ideas don’t disappear in your brain. Just take a photo of your wall when your done and see if there’s anything there. Don’t tell yourself to think outside of the box, just give yourself space to write whatever comes to mind. Don’t pass off any thought as being not good enough, and give everything the attention it deserves after this time is up.
In a world with consistency and repetition, when is the last time you strategically mixed it up in your creative business? Being original doesn’t just happen. Start somewhere. As Nike would say if they were on this blog post with me – Just do it.
I hope this helps!
I’m a hopeless romantic with a big smile and a big heart for capturing incredible couples across the globe. I BELIEVE IN giving PHOTOGRAPHERS the TOOLS TO grow a CREATIVE and purpose-filled business, SHARING MY PASSION, educating couples looking to get married, and SNUGGLing UP WITH A WARM CUP OF COFFEE.
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