Do you tend to compare your own work to other work of other photographers? Good!
Good? Yes, you read it right! Good. But not for the reasons that you think. And here’s why!
Comparison that harms you
From the beginning of mankind, people have been comparing themselves to each other. At some point in history, comparing ensured our ancestors’ survival. And over the years and generations, we have begun to compare our looks, our abilities and also our possessions with those around us. The consequence of all this? Our self-esteem, our self-confidence and our motivation decrease with each comparison.
This is also the case on social media, particularly in the photography niche. I used to compare my art to the art of other photographers a lot. I often asked myself “Why do they have so many followers?”, “Why do they have so many likes?”, “My photography sucks apparently, since I don’t get this amount of support and engagement”. This right here is toxic comparison.
Comparison that helps you move forward
„There is really a way of comparing that is healthy and that takes me further?“ You may wonder. There surely is!
Compare yourself to your older self
As chliché as it sounds, there IS truth in this statement. Often, we only see where we want to go or where we think we should be. We compare, see we’re not there yet and feel miserable. But, have you ever looked back and noticed how far you’ve come already? When you just started, you dreamed of being where you are now. You were able to answer many questions along the way. You’ve overcome so many obstacles. No matter how small your progress is, it’s still progress.
All you see is their now
And you only see what they want you to see. Do you know how many setbacks other photographers have suffered?
Do you know how much they had to practice until they got to where they are now?
Do you know how much and how often they were criticized and started all over again?
Have you ever wondered about how many times they thought about giving up?
People don’t like talking about their setbacks and weaknesses. Why? Because it makes them vulnerable and many others can be really are mean. Also, we still live in a society that praises (fast) success. But the equation is only complete when you add effort + setbacks to it. See failure as feedback, learn from it, try a different approach and try again. And again. And again and again.
The answer lies between what you see and don’t see
When you look at somebody’s photo on Instagram, i.e., and you see it’s performing well, instead of getting all miserable about it, try this: analyze the photo and analyze the steps it probably took them to get this result. The thing is, results come from learning and trying.
So, could it be the angle? Learn all about different angles! Could it be the light? Learn all about lighting in photography! Could it be the colors? Read about color psychology! What books did they probably read? What tutorials did they most likely watch? Is it the editing? Find out which editing software offers what! Do your own research. Type your questions into a search engine. I’m sure you get a lot of results.
Once you’ve collected enough information, apply that knowledge! But always keep in mind: you can use other photographer’s art as inspiration. Plagiarism, however, is a no-go.
Comparison isn’t always a bad thing. If you see what you can learn from other people and not what you are lacking, comparison can be a good thing. Just enjoy the process. It’s never really about the results. I learned to enjoy every tiny bit of this journey. I no longer focus on numbers, follower and likes. I just love what I’m doing and everything falls into place, naturally.
Do you compare yourself to others? If yes, in a healthy or an unhealthy way? Let me know in the comments!