Of the handful of people that regularly read and comment on my blog, many of them are fellow photographers. Many are friends, at similar points in our careers. Many are new, just starting out, and trying to navigate this difficult business. I love chatting with both because it is nice to bond with people who “get it.” So, I thought every once in a while I would share a post just for photographers, and to give clients a glimpse behind the scenes.
Which makes me think “No one gets in to see the wizard! Not no one! Not no time.” but anyway… I digress.
Today I wanted to address the issue of competition. I hear a lot “I bet you don’t know soandso because they are your competition” but the truth of the matter is, I probably do know them and we are probably friends. When you work in the arts, ‘competition’ doesn’t exist with others and if it does, it is because you have not yet established your own style, method and eye. It is easy to mistake insecurity for competition. And I have SO done it, and every now and then, still do. I see someone’s work and I think “WHY couldn’t I come up with that first?!” or… “I wonder what actions she uses…” or I have to sit on my hands to resist the urge to email and ask what lens they used to produce that perfect, dreamy bokeh. But I take a deep breath and I instead ask myself what I can do to make MY work better.
Being a photographer does, however, mean constant competition with yourself. I have had many~ both photographer friends and repeat clients~ comment on my growth. It is kind of awesome to look back and to also look forward and imagine where I can go if I continue working as hard as I am now. It is like running… always trying to beat your best time. I am always, always, always feeling that I am not *anywhere near* there yet… and that is an awesome thing because I work so very hard to get better and better and better. I believe the day that I think I have arrived will be the day that I close myself off to growing more. So, I will consider myself a newbie, despite a rapidly growing business, for a very long time because I love growing and changing!
No one is me. I am the artist behind my work, so there is no chance anyone can compete with me. And vice versa. No matter how I admire someone’s work, I cannot compete with them. It doesn’t matter what equipment they use.. it is the tool between their ears and behind their ribs that make their work theirs.
So do yourself a favor and become friends with your peers. They are not your competition, but they can be a source of inspiration, support, knowledge and a good laugh about the ups and downs of selling your art. It is so nice to be understood because often times our families just don’t understand how emotionally attached to our work we become.
And some before and afters to very clearly demonstrate my point 🙂 It is okay to chuckle at my expense 🙂 But do know that I am still proud of my “before” work (though it is certainly not what I would deliver now!) because it was where I was at the time. And my clients believed in my potential for growth and stuck with me while I was still learning. I am SO grateful for that!
Categories: photography community