Knowing what to compare.

Do you compare your photos to others you see? Sometimes think that you've done or could have done it better? Maybe get disheartened when you perceive someone else's work as better than yours? You're comparing the wrong thing!

We all have photographers that we aspire to be like. Sometimes we don't know who they are but we can easily distinguish their work when we see it. Our natural tendency is to try and recreate/imitate. We should focus on drawing inspiration from a few photos and mash them together. After all, it helps us to progress

An issue that may arise when comparing yourself with another photographer, is you're not them. It sounds simple right? But it's true. Everyone has different opportunities. A photographer in New York, for example, may have access to shoot from atop a skyscraper. But if you live in Iceland that isn't an opportunity that'll come your way.  Is it something to worry about? Nope. 

So if we're not comparing our photos against others, and we're not comparing our different opportunities then what should we compare?

How about we compare determination. One thing every successful person has in common is determination and dedication. Without them, we wouldn't get anything done. Read stories of other photographers like Joe McNally, Corey Rich, Lindsay Adler etc. You'll find that to become successful it didn't matter what their camera gear was. It was determination. Sometimes it'll be working multiple jobs or moving countries just to put themselves in opportune situations. Not for a minute am I suggesting that the only way to succeed is to move country. However, I'm trying to highlight the dedication it takes. 

I have a little story about this subject I'd like to share. A few years ago I was at my partner's place and it got to around 3am when I decided to leave. A huge electrical storm was brewing with lightning appearing on the horizon. Luckily I didn't live too far away because I wanted to grab my camera and shoot it. I drove to a location that overlooks my city and saw a fair few photographers already there. The difference is I didn't stay by my car. I walked right out to a point where nobody was, set up my camera and tripod (in an electrical storm that isn't a smart idea) and started to shoot. Yes my gear and I got wet, but did I care? Nope. After an hour I got home and edited the photo before uploading it. In short, the BBC ended up using this photo for their own Facebook cover. There was a guy though who was very bitter by it. We were both there at the same time but he had his camera facing the other way and left at the first hint of rain. He was then comparing our photos from the same spot and time. The difference was my dedication level. Had he stayed a little longer, he my have captured the same photo.

My take away point is; compare your dedication level to others. If you're making excuses not to improve yourself or you sell yourself short because you don't have that piece of gear etc, then maybe that's something you should work on. Immediately.