I will offer one for you to consider: Comparing yourself to other photographers. It’s simple and you should remember never to do that to yourself.
Why you might ask. And with a good reason. After all isn’t every photographer taking images so that he can share with clients, friends or fellow photographers? Isn’t photography a visual art which is mean to be shared, reviewed and critiqued? Wouldn’t sharing and comparing to other photographers make one grow and improve its skills? Well, if you think the answer is yes, consider these arguments:
- Although all humans are 99% genetically similar, when it comes to untangle qualities as: talent, motivation, skills, determination, willingness to spend time to improve not everyone is the same. How one can compare to other photographer who started its career much earlier and had the advantage of making and learning from much more mistakes? Why one would expect to be on the same level with someone who decided to spend 10 times more time on improving itself and has much more determination?
- Not everyone has the same goals as a photographer. One might be happy to get certain image quality and look while other is targeting be best in the field and considers his journey as not complete until he achieve complete. If the goals and motivation are different how the results could be compared?
- Some photographers make living from their craft and photography is their full time job while others are part-time photographers or “weekend warriors” and take images for fun. It’s impossible that the results from both would be the same considering the competition level of being a paid photographer compared to being a non-paid photographer.
- Not everyone learns how to improve in photography at the same pace. One takes longer to grasp a concept and learns best by trying different compositions and camera settings while other might learn better by reading and internalizing before even trying to take a image. If one compares to a person who grasps the concepts faster and is more artistic person by nature, he would be always following that or similar fast paced photographers and would never be satisfied with itself. Putting itself down and constantly feeling as running from behind, can do incurable damage to ones photography passion and inspiration.
- Plus there are so many great photographers in much more advanced phase of their photography journey that is close to impossible to catch up with all of them in the same time. Chasing someone without a clear goal and target is bound to failure. Plus is ruins one’s self esteem by constantly reminding itself that he is still behind the masters in the field and getting discouraged daily from its results.
So, stop comparing and trying to compare yourself to other photographers. Stop obsessing on trying to post every day your images and trying to prove you are better than the others. Please, do compete in print competitions or themed challenges but do it for the sake of learning and improving your own skills, not for proving you are better that so and so photographer.
There is nothing more damaging to a photographer than to constantly looking over its shoulder and trying to be someone else. Trying to copy many different styles and looks, would results to being nobody and not having any personality in the photographic work. Instead, a photographer should enjoy the journey and find its own interests, type of photography and style that satisfy the own vision. I am not saying that this vision would be crystal clean from day one neither that one should not ever look at other photographer’s work. This would be stupid. Looking and absorbing the style, trying to draw ideas and implementing them in its own way is creative. Trying to copy someone’s else work and constantly obsessing with not being as good is just a loss of valuable time.
Instead one should invest time to find its own interests, internal drivers and create its own style. Then take the photographic journey as its own pace. And after all, have fun and enjoy. It it ends up causing you more stress and anxiety, then stop, take a break and come back to it when ready. It’s your journey and you should be in command. Don’t let others distract you or slow you down in your growth as a photographer.
Think differently, agree or disagree? Drop me a line or comment below.
By Trifon Anguelov, Photographer, Mountain View, CA 94040