When I was first starting out as a photographer I obsessed over other photographers' work. My Facebook and Instagram feeds were flooded with the work of amazing photographers like Jordan Voth, Ben Sasso, Katch Silva, Nessa K, and Dylan Howell. I honestly could not get enough of them! I would save their photos, share them with my other photographer friends, and comment like a total fan girl hoping that those photographers would see me! The issue with this is that as I was starting my own journey in photography, I would go out and shoot and would find myself almost in tears because my work was never as good as those other photographers. My colors were never perfectly like theirs, the light was never the same, and even the scenery was giving me extreme jealousy. I could not stop comparing myself and my work to those other photographers. Jealousy can be such a monster and as a creative, this can be so difficult to overcome. I have talked to several friends and fellow photographers about this exact subject and it seems to be unanimous that we all are affected at some point or another.
I am hoping that this post can encourage anyone who is starting their own photography journey to learn how to be inspired by other photographers, but not compare to them. What if you are a seasoned photographer? This post can still help you! This post is intended to remind you that jealousy exists and that if you are going to grow you need to learn how to put it behind you!
So where do you start? How do you let go of the jealousy? Here is what helped me...
- Be YOU- I know it so cliche, but everyone else is already taken, so you need be you. The same thing goes with photography. Ben Sasso is the only Ben Sasso out there...you can't be him, you have to be you. The reality is, you are great! Please know that. I know you have a long ways to go as a beginner, but you really are great! Your brand (how you shoot, how you edit, your customer service) sticks out and that's why your clients chose YOU! Your uniqueness is what makes you great, so if you are too wrapped up trying being someone else you won't ever get to see your full potential. Your clients looked online and saw pictures you took and thought to themselves, "I want photos that look exactly like that! I have to hire her!"
- Be Consistent- Clients need to know what they are expecting when they book you as a photographer. This was a really hard thing for me when I got started in photography. I wasn't sure who I wanted to be as a photographer, so one day I would be a newborn photographer who edited light and airy and the next day I was a wedding photographer who focused on dark, moody edits. It wasn't until I realized where I belonged until I truly felt "at home" with my brand and my style. Once I decided that I wanted to be a wedding photographer who embraced emotion and candid moments, I started focusing on that and putting everything else on the back burner and I have to tell you the miracle that happened; I fell in love with my art! I couldn't wait to get to my next shoot! I couldn't wait to edit my photos! I felt a rush and a high every time I would photograph a wedding. I belonged and it felt great!
- Never Stop Shooting- The fastest way to find out who you are as a photographer and get better is to just keep shooting! Seriously, shoot every single day! Everywhere you go take a camera with you, whether it is film or digital, even a small point and shoot cheap camera will work. You never know when the light is going to be perfect when you are getting coffee with a friend, or the sunset is going to be the most beautiful its ever been when you are driving home from work. Be ready to capture the moment and most importantly try to look for those moments! Don't let photography just be a job, let it be part of your life.
- It might be easier for others- For some people, photography comes 100% natural to them. They will pick up a camera and start taking the most beautiful pictures you've ever seen, start a business and be published in all your favorite magazines all within one year. You will want to hate them. You took classes, read books, watched endless videos on every single thing you could and your friend is still having more success than you. This is reality and yes it sucks, but you have to remember point 1, you are you. Your clients will still choose you because they love your style and your personality.
- Give yourself a pat on the back- You are amazing. You chose a career that you will never be able to perfect. Perfection doesn't exit in photography, in fact some of the best pictures that I have ever seen have broken every single rule that textbooks have created. Embrace the weirdness you create, laugh at every one of your mistakes, and most importantly never stop shooting...
Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." He is so right, comparison is the thief of joy and it also the thief of love. If you constantly compare yourself to everyone you will never see the beauty in your own work. You might also lose your love of photography and that would be the ultimate worst thing that could happen. Don't let anyone steal your love for photography, not even yourself. Don't be your own worst enemy.
Don't be afraid to look at other photographers work, and don't be afraid to love what you see! You should! The kicker is that when you look at other amazing photographers work you need to be able to say, "I love this!" "They are awesome!" All while still remembering that so are you. Don't look at someone else's work and let the good feelings you have about your own work be replaced by a shallow, empty feeling. Only you can make these changes and I wish you the best of luck!