We live in a competitive world. I was taught at a young age to always strive to DO my best, which I translated to mean BE the best.
While this interpretation may lead to a pursuit of excellence – it also leads to a life of defeat.
Such high expectations are impossible to achieve for there is always someone who is faster, smarter, more talented. Ultimately, the joy of life is robbed: fear of failure is greater than the desire to experience something new. Risks are avoided and the comfort zone becomes more like a prison cell.
Photography is particularly prone to this fatal practice. We are surrounded by photos – from Facebook to Instagram, from Flickr to 500px. Hundreds of blogs provide valuable tips to improve our craft. Professionals, as well as serious amateurs, are more than willing to share their expertise, as well as market their business. The internet provides a wealth of valuable information – and a constant opportunity to compare our efforts to others.
Unfortunately the comparison is not fair; it is the proverbial apples to oranges.
Comparing my novice efforts to those of a veteran professional is ludicrous. Comparing my first attempts to their personal best (they wouldn’t dare post anything else) is equally damaging. Photography is not about winning the competition, it is about self-improvement. Photography isn’t about accomplishment, it is about process.
I am grateful for those who are willing to share their knowledge with the world. I am a visual learner and need to see “awesome shots” in order to understand. I know that practice is necessary and constructive criticism is useful, BUT… comparison is deadly to finding Joy in the Moment.
Learning to accept myself today with the hope of improving a bit tomorrow is not only essential to a photography practice, but it is also crucial to a joyful and fulfilling life.
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else. (Galatians 6:4 NIV)