1. Before you decide to make an image, listen to your audience. What I mean by that is, know your audience. Think about the story you want to tell with your camera from their point of view. For instance, if you’re photographing cars for children, you might want to shoot everything from the back seat, which is where kids ride. Or you might want to photograph a car from a low angle. Kids aren’t usually six feet tall. Think of their perspective, not just technically – but also figuratively.
2. Take chances. Making striking images that cause people to stop and pause isn’t for the feint of heart. You need to take risks. I am not suggesting that you try to be different for different’s sake. I am suggesting that whatever your wildest ideas are – these should get a chance to see the light of day. Be bold. Live big. Make great images.
3. Be provocative. This is more than taking chances. This is pushing the edge. This is visiting the place where you might be uncomfortable. This is selecting compelling subjects that may be edgy. Again, I am not simply saying that you should go be different because being different is cool. I am saying be yourself, and explore your inner-most desires. Bring those to the canvas by selecting provocative subjects, locations and approach.
4. Be authentic. This may be the most important step. The constant cry for new replaces what should be YOU. I run into young shooters all the time who make the mistake of thinking they have to reinvent the wheel in order to be cool. They simply do the opposite of the conventional norm thinking that will make their work special. It doesn’t. It generally means they are missing the real opportunity. The real opportunity to shine is to make something that represents YOU – YOUR VISION – and the story YOU want to tell. Be authentic if you want to stop people dead in their tracks.
5. Make photographs that cause people to be curious. Think about it this way. If your photo could ask a question of its viewer, what question would that be? I realize that this concept is out there, but if you can translate it, you can make compelling images. Leaving things unanswered is often better than the alternative.