August 19, 2019
In every artist, there is a little voice saying “try again” and “you can do better than this” and “maybe next time”. That’s the encourager in your head. It’s the one that tells you to keep going, even when everyone else tells you to stop. It sees the potential you have to be FANTASTIC at whatever you choose to do. That voice is a good voice.
However, there’s a different voice in your head, too. That’s the one that whispers “that person is better than you. you should be that good too” and “you were better yesterday. what happened?” and “my competition is doing better than me. crap”.
If you can understand what I’m talking about, you’re probably a Creative with an Instagram account. Or a Pinterest. Basically, any form of social media.
You’re not crazy, and you’re not alone. We can all relate. We’ve all been there.
But listening to the argumentative voices inside our heads is never very fun. It never seems to go anywhere. It loops in this perpetual cycle of self-love and self-hatred. It’s frustrating as HECK trying to stay motivated when you feel like everyone else is better than you. Even worse, you feel yourself becoming competitive and tearing them down inside your head.
“Why is she charging so much?? Her photos are worse than mine.”
“She OBVIOUSLY has less experience than I do. Why is she getting more clients?”
“Look at that editing. It’s terrible!”
Yes, these are all thoughts that I’ve had myself. Is that humiliating? Absolutely. As a floundering new photographer, it is so easy to become defensive and nervous, scrounging for new clients and worried that there’s no room in the game for ANOTHER photographer. Sound familiar?
But the times have changed. My mindset has completely flipped a 180. How, you might ask?
Community over competition.
As photographers, we are not competing in the game. We are the team.
The only competition is one within yourself. Within myself. I’m trying to give my clients the best photos that I can, to the best of my ability, and I’m not going to get there by trashing other photographers or playing mental games. I am going to get there by upping my skill level. How do I do that?
I lean on other photographers in the game. I ask for advice. I try again and ask for constructive criticism. I join Facebook groups, send Instagram DMs, meet in coffee shops, and go to styled shoots. I do my research. I give it some trial and error. This is collaboration. Community!
The voices in your head won’t just stop. The topic does change, though. Instead of, “this photographer is so much better than me,” it becomes, “what is this photographer doing that I’m not?” You stop insulting yourself and start building your skills up.
Eventually, you’ll feel a little better about your own work. You’ll build some confidence. And that is when you will finally feel as though you’re marketing and giving the real deal: a photo shoot worth telling their friends about.
And that, my friend, is the definition of Community over Competition.