Comparisons are dangerous

Comparisons are dangerous

Comparing yourself and your art to others is dangerous. It can lead to decreased self esteem, anxiety and excessive worry.  Yet we all seem to have our moments when we do.  Why do we keep doing it then? 

One of the places photographers love to do this is with equipment, cameras, lenses and in particular printing paper.  We also love to compare our work with others.  How often have I heard “That’s so beautiful, I wish I could do that.”   Easy, you probably could, but do you really want too.  Is that really a good complement to make. 

Camera comparisons are only useful if you are buying a camera.  Otherwise why bother.  Lens comparisons are only useful if you are going to buy a new lens.   

I fall into the trap of thinking new equipment is going to make me a better photographer or that it will magically make my work better.  Actually it never does.  My quality often goes down with new equipment as I struggle to figure out how it works.   

My advice.  Buy less equipment and use what you have longer.  

When we compare our work with that of others I am not sure it is so cut and dry.  Is there something we can learn by looking at the creativity and technical skills of other artists.  I think so. Yet, you don’t want to be doing comparisons, you want to be learning and seeking inspiration.   Don’t compare yourself. 

Instead ask, what is it that you love.  What visual language codes are being used. What attracts your attention?  Why can’t you stop looking at it?   What compositional techniques are being employed? 

More importantly ask what captures the attention of your heart and mind.  Explore your thoughts.  Ask what is creating / triggering your emotional response? 

Study the ones that grab your attention and skip the ones that don’t.   

But, don’t compare with yourself. 

Andrea on the nude workshop last year.  Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2018

Artist | Writer | Photographer | Educator | Adventurer