Recently, whilst eating breakfast, I was watching my usual YouTubers. Rather than sitting and watching morning TV over breakfast I prefer to watch people that might help educate me further in my career or at least help spur on my creation, the usuals came up Casey Neistat, Peter McKinnon, Matti Haapoja etc all people that you should keep an eye on if you’re any kind of creative! Anyway, Casey Neistat started to talk about a recent interview between Joe Rogan (Another good youtuber!) and Elon Musk, you know, the guy that runs Tesla, Space X and the Boring Company...if there is anyone that can it’s Elon! Anyway, a quote came up during that interview that Casey expands on a little and it’s a quote from 1901 United States of America President, Theodore Roosevelt, who said:
“Comparison is the thief of joy”.
This really stuck on me. The joy that we hold for our work, our family and our lives is taken or removed by a simple act of comparing ourselves and what we have to other people. Such a simple concept that has so many reflections on my own experiences and I dare say some of yours. How many times have you compared, say a new (new to you at least) car and then see your neighbour roll up in a new Audi or Mercedes...the joy you felt when driving that car home to then find someone had bought a newer, better or shinier car completely diminishes because you instinctively compare yourself, your life, to that of your neighbour.
I think what really hit me about that quote though is that I am always comparing myself to other photographers, on a daily basis I am trawling different pages on Facebook and different websites wondering how I am meant to compete with some of these other photographers, whether it be because they provide a similar package to mine but at a third of the price (true story!) or because they have such outstanding work that I feel as though I should just give up! I compare my work and my prices to these other photographers and when I have just finished a shoot that I am particularly happy with or just finished editing an entire wedding and then see images or offers from other photographers that instantly make me loose that sense of joy from a session.
I am fed up. I am fed up of competing, of comparing and investing so heavily in ideas for them to be beaten up by my own thought processes! It’s time to stop comparing myself to other people, to stop feeling like everything is a competition. Photographers should be a team, a unit that you can bounce ideas off and learn the different techniques to help further each other, healthy competition is never a bad thing. Competition only turns ugly when you are competing silently because the only judge you have is yourself, a Judge that knows the processes, the lows and the highs you have gone through to achieve your goal. This judge is always incredibly critical and 9 times out of 10 will give you a lower score than your competitor!
Everyone is in or goes through stages of self doubt, it’s not healthy for the mind or the body. But it is that self doubt that kicks you in the ass and tells you to get a move on, no one else is going to help me edit better pictures, no one else is going to help improve my brand and no one is going to pay me if I don’t work for it. The thing I truly love about my career is that you know people like your work, because they pay you. Almost all other jobs, you’re paid because that’s how a job works, you turn up, complete your tasks and you get paid at the end of the month. Creative roles however, you turn up to work, you complete your tasks and depending on how hard you work and depending on how much a client loves your work depends on how much you get paid! If they like it a lot then they will buy more digitals and prints, if they don’t...well then you need to try super hard next time, otherwise you’ll be hungry at the end of the month!
In an attempt to change this process, if you’re a local photographer, or even further afield, contact me. Drop me an email or a Facebook message and let’s collaborate, let’s go out shooting random stuff, let’s give each other ideas, tasks to do in our spare time, let’s have raw edit competitions, let’s have fun. Bring the fun back into having a competition and teach and learn from each other!