Who should you compare yourself too?

Lin over at Fluffytek said in her latest blog:

On photography blogs, certain standards are inherent. The pressure to be as good as your peers is intense.

It reminded me of something I’ve been thinking about for the last few days.

On Monday I dropped off the three framed pictures at Cafe Montemarte.  (see my previous post)  The woman in charge was surprised that I’d never shown any of my work before, she really liked it.  It got me thinking about why I didn’t think about it in the same way.  I decided it was because I compare my work to others that I see most often.  Because I regularly read the blogs listed in my blogroll, and see a lot of excellent work on Model Mayhem, I compare myself to them.  These are some of the best photographers in the world.  On the one hand it’s good to compare myself to them, it makes me want to emulate the high quality that I see in their work, makes my work better.  On the other hand it does make me think that my work is inferior.  I like the work I’ve done and am proud of it, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s up to the same level.

Thinking about this is the first time that I could empathize with women who say that beauty magazines give them lower self esteem.  Prior to this I thought “how could a magazine do that?”.  Now I kind of get it.  There is a difference in that I have greater control over the outcome.  I can learn and change what I’m doing to improve my work, where as a woman is limited in how much she can change herself.  Yes, she can wear make up, dye her hair, even go to the extreme and get plastic surgery, but that can only change so much.  She’s not going to get any taller, you can only get so thin, and every day you get older.

Getting back to photography, I now realize I am better than the vast majority of people on this planet.  I’m not bragging, I just am.  Even when comparing “people who take pictures” I’m better than average.  I guess I’m just saying be more aware of why you do things.

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