I've been taking pictures for a long time. I've attended photography school, started my own business, been recognized by various publications for my work, and have taught others on advanced techniques as well as the basics. Despite all that, I'm not what I would call a great photographer. I know some people whose work simply stands apart from mine, and in my opinion, they are great at what they do. But do I feel the need to be great, and envy those who I feel are? No, and I will let you in on a little secret - it's better to be unique than it is to strive to be the best. Here's why:
Anyone can take a picture. In fact, since cell phones have cameras, pretty much everyone does these days. Point and click, picture taken. But set a chair in a room and invite 20 people in to photograph it. Will you get 20 pictures of a chair, or 20 artistic interpretations? If so, what will set your picture apart from the other 19? The answer, in short, is your personal photo style. Developing your photo style may take some time, or it may come naturally. It all depends on what pleases your eye when framing your shot. Some people favor shadows and low light, some favor lines and symmetry. For others, it may be about how they edit each shot, lending a personal touch to their images that create a consistent style regardless of the subject matter. Either way, you know you've found your style when someone recognizes your work simply by looking at one of your photos.
And you may already have a style, even if you think you're still searching for it. Look at your work and ask yourself what is the common theme from shot to shot. Don't jump from one theme to the next; find one that suites your tastes, and build on that. See things that others do not, and create your image from your own, unique point of view. Don't photograph a chair, photograph a perspective. Remember, being great is a difficult thing to accomplish, but being unique, and having your own photo style is something that each of us can achieve with ease.