Yes, that's right! In fact, all of your gear and equipment are there for you to help show what you want to say, but before that, you need to use your best tool: your mind. I'm not going to talk about the quality or techniques and skills for taking a better picture, instead I want you to think one step before that. One of the most important things for an artist is to create a piece of work showing exactly what they are thinking in their head. The difference between your idea and your outcome defines how powerful you are as an artist, and that difference is small for a great artist.
The best tool is the right mindset. It will help you to find your own perspective and finally gain your unique style. For the right mindset, I mean the way you think about everything which is just yours. There is not just one mindset or a formula to follow.
When I started learning photography, lighting, retouching, marketing, and attracting clients, I had read most of the related articles on the Internet, and most of them were talking about shooting the same subjects. I'm sure most of you have heard the famous line, "Be yourself, be who you are, and use you in your work." But who are you?
The answer is you are your mindset. When we come into the photography field, it will be more important to know what is "beautiful" for you. What is the definition of a good picture, or an edgy story? For example, When you want to create a dreamy story or photo, what is dreamy for you?
For example, Tim Burton's dreamy works are different from regular works in the genre. That's because not every dreamy work is about to show a colorful and soft theme with little shiny lights. It is based on what you call a dream for yourself. Of course, you can use general perspective for it (like for projects, clients, and commercial) but as an artist, every word is unique and designed by personal experience for you and that will make your unique signature on every work you create.
Two years ago with a friend of mine, I tried to take photos for our projects (finding myself and my unique perspectives of life). The subject was "loneliness." We started to take photos with only this subject and we saw a huge difference in the results. In my pictures, a guy was sitting on a chair in the crowd at the party with too many colorful lights. He was seated in the middle of the photo and surrendered with lots of happy young people jumping around and drinking, but in my friend's photo, a girl was sitting in a quiet, dark place and sad.
So, other than quality and skills in your work, people, companies, and even magazines want to pay you for your unique point of view which is made from your mindset and perspective of life you have experienced.
I am a commercial fashion photographer, and I admire some famous photographers like Helmut Newton not for his fantastic light, stories, or historical pictures, but the daring capture and creation of what he believed at that moment.
I know, clients come to you to take photos or make videos for what they request and you can't force them to accept your mindset of happy, cute, and luxury. But consider why they came to you in the first place while there are many other photographers with high quality works around. Maybe it's because they looked at your portfolio and they liked your unique style.
The bottom line is it depends on how much you want to risk and put yourself into your work in order to record your name in the history books.