In Kelvin’s story – if you haven’t read it yet, you should! – he mentions about comparing his photos with other photographers’ photos.
It’s something that we humans do way more often that we care to admit: compare ourselves to others. Sometimes it acts as a motivation boost because we feel like we’re better than person X or Y but it can also drag us down and give up our dreams because we feel like we’ll never be able to do/be/have that.
In photography it goes something like this: “Why didn’t I see that angle?, “How come the lighting looks so much better in his photo?, “Why does she have so many fans in her photography Facebook page?”…
So we start thinking… perhaps some new gear would help us achieve better results “Maybe if I had that full-frame camera…”, but this merely a way to cheat ourselves. Good photographers get interesting results no matter the gear they have. DigitalRev TV illustrates this very well in their series “Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera”.
Comparing ourselves to someone else can also lead to copying their work. We try to compose through their view, their way of setting up the lights, their post-processing workflow and… and yes, we learn, but we end up becoming someone other than ourselves and those are not our images; that’s someone else’s views and experiences that we’re capturing, not ours.
We should definitely compare ourselves to others but not in way to makes feel down, envious or to copy. We should look to those we think are better than we are as a source of inspiration, to learn from their techniques and creativity and to model them to our own personal way of seeing through the lens.
Being critical about our work is a good thing because it makes us evolve, try different techniques, different compositions, to research… But enjoying the gear we have, learn how to get the best possible results with it and comparing our work from today to those photos that we have on our hard drive from 1 year ago we’ll get us much forward. If we realize our progress we’ll feel more confident about our skills and we’ll be closer to our subject, it’ll be easier to interact with it and our final results will become better and better.
Plus, in order to improve we must also set ourselves some goals and keep track of them. If you’re lacking inspiration check Yeal’s “Photography Bucket List”, she has some great ideas for us to try.
Do you find yourself comparing to others frequently? How do you feel? What do you do to overcome it?