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Trees in Silence, Hudson Valley

“In a world filled with metrics and bestseller lists, it’s easy to decide that everyone is your competitor and easier still to worry about your rank. Worry all you want, but if it gets in the way of your art or starts changing your mission, it’s probably a mistake.” – Seth Godin

This great quote captures much of what I have struggled with over the years, and how I think about the whole issue of comparisons these days. Competition is rampant in landscape and nature photography – it seems there are always contests to enter, and endless ways to compare ourselves to the “competition”.

Just visit any art fair (or worse participate in one) to experience this first hand. The endless “I can do that” or “is my work good enough” really misses the point of it all. If you have something to say, then it should measure up against what you have said in the past. If it’s not making an impact, then it’s time to improve your vocabulary, or practice your story telling. Comparing our images to others doesn’t take into consideration many important variables like skill, dedication, practice, and most crucial personal experience.

If you allow your  perceptions of where you stand in the overall “rank” of photography to guide your creativity, then you’ll never develop your own vision. Is there a shortage of photography in the world today? Not by any stretch of the imagination – in fact we are over saturated with imagery. I would argue that what is in short supply are original voices willing to tell their stories about what inspires them.

Don’t worry about competition, worry about whether you are getting any real responses to your work – often that comes when you forget about what everyone else is doing.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Seth’s Godin quote is wonderful, but I love your own take on the subject. And your topic couldn’t have come a better time time for me. I’ve been in a creative freeze for about two months questioning just about everything about my own work you have mentioned here. I haven’t taken a serious photo in that amount of time. I think you may have just uncorked my frozen creative expression. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Michael – your comment made my week! As a photography instructor, there is nothing more satisfying than inspiring others in their creative endeavors. It’s great that you are motivated to start shooting again, and to be honest it happens to all of us. I’ve been through more ruts than I care to think about. The key is to keep at it. When you “show up” regularly, things can and do happen – its the perseverance that many can not handle. I’ll write more about inspiration and motivation in the coming weeks.


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