The compare syndrome
I kept thinking lately on the things that keep us back, as artists.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the climate around it’s not favorable for us to evolve creatively, or as a matter of fact intellectually.
Here me out for just a moment, before you totally dismiss that this is even possible, in an era where information is available for all of us, at a touch of a button. The idea is simple. With all the access to the information the internet is providing us, comes misinformation. Nowadays everybody is a writer (everybody can have a blog, like this one, where they can write their toughs), everybody is a photographer (because everyone has a good phone camera), everyone is a know it all – you can do it yourself – kind of person.
So like this, we think that what we see online on social media, is the norm, that ‘likes’ dictate how good our images are, that there are rules to be followed to make good photographs, that copying what we see is appreciated is the way to go.
If just 30 years ago every photographer had it’s own style, having access to limited information (limited to their region or fellow photographers), now we have access to mass information on other’s work. This is a great thing, as an inspiration for your work, but it may discourage a beginner to continue photographing, by comparing their photography to years of work and dedication from other photographers. There is a thin line here between inspiration and frustration.
You can see today so many videos with tips, tricks and rules in photography, you may be tempted to think those must be followed religiously to produce good images. While composition guidelines might be of great help at the beginning, once you evolve and start having your own voice, rules are there to be broken. You need to discover what works for you.
There is also a paradigm that is being mentioned more and more: you were born creative or talented to do something and that will make you succeed . People that work hard for what they want, will surpass at any time people that have an inclination for something but don’t put in the work to evolve. So don’t let others discourage you in giving up photography because you are not creative by nature or you don’t have an inclination towards visual arts. You are unique, you are not born with skills, you will learn them along the way.
The environment in which we live today encourages comparison with others that are present in social media and that are appreciated by non-experts in the photography field. From here comes:
- the boom of over processed images
- famous locations that are now full of photographers that have the tripods aligned to capture the “same” image
- the death of creativity, originality & self reflection
What we can do to escape the compare syndrome:
- Always remember that you work for yourself, not for others. This will encourage you to explore new things that may not be appreciated by the online community but that reflect your view on photography.
- Stay away from likes on social media and focus on studying the work of good photographers that can inspire and direct your work. Buy books and try to figure out what you like about an image. Your own voice will follow.
- Aspire to be different. Instead of going after the crowd try to find things you enjoy to photograph. This will make your work unique.
Don’t compare, be yourself!