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The photography industry is competitive. Regardless of your niche or location, you will run into other photographers producing beautiful work too. It’s hard not to compare your photos to others around you, but it’s also detrimental to your own process when you do.
You may have a photographer crush whose work you follow (and don’t worry, we all do), or your Instagram feed may be full of unbelievable landscapes and beautiful brides in shots you would never imagine. And it’s great to observe other photographers, learn from them, and even gain inspiration from them. The problem begins when looking at another photographer’s work changes how you feel about your own in a negative way.
Whether you’re a photographer or a writer or anything in a creative industry, comparisons will only serve to destroy your confidence and thus the quality of your work over time. And until you are able to view other photographer’s work without comparing your own to it, you should take a step back. I have a few tips that will help you work through the comparisons and find other work inspiring rather than disheartening.
1. Take a break from social media.
A major source of this envy and comparison comes from running into other photographers’ work on social media networks like Instagram and Facebook. Initially, when you’re taking the first step to avoiding comparisons, you should quit cold turkey. Keep your social media accounts for your photography business, if you have one, but unfollow accounts that make you more envious than inspired. Remember that many times these other photographers have years of experience on you or just have a different style. Neither of which make your work of any less value.
2. Focus on your own work and being inspired by others.
In the photography industry, everyone brings their own unique experiences, knowledge, and education to their photos. It’s impossible to duplicate those combined factors and you shouldn’t want to. Instead, learn to appreciate what makes you different from others and the exclusive experiences that contributed to your style and work.
Make a conscious effort to view your work positively and appreciate it on its own. And also be conscious when you view other photographers’ work, focus on appreciating it and being inspired by it. Try to catch yourself when you begin to feel negatively about your own work because of other photos. If you feel like another photographer’s work is light years beyond yours, use their photographs as inspiration for what you would like to create while also recognizing that their individual experiences contribute to their final products.
Remember, Instagram only shows the highlights. No one is going to post a picture of them going through a hard time. Just like no photographer is going to post the fifty poor photos they took during a shoot--they will post the best of the best. Use their best photos as inspiration to see where you can improve your own photography skills without directly comparing your photos.
Don’t think that just because someone else’s photos are “better” that the world doesn’t need your unique perspective.
3. Be supportive of other photographers.
Instead of seeing other photographers as competition, which is hard when you own a photography business, choose to support other professionals in your industry. Photographers give so much of themselves away in their creative art, which takes courage and confidence that a lot of people don’t have. Support other photographers who put themselves out there just like you do everyday instead of holding resentment for them.
Sometimes you do just have to step back and avoid viewing other photographer’s work, but if you’re able to work through your negative thought process and find a way to be inspired by them instead you will see exponential growth in your own images!