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The Uselessness of Comparing Yourself

Lesson 5 from: The Method to a Successful (and Fulfilling) Photography Career

Alex Strohl

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Lesson Info

5. The Uselessness of Comparing Yourself

Lesson Info

The Uselessness of Comparing Yourself

For the better part of eight years I've been publishing photos on Instagram fairly regularly and for six years, that was every day. So every day I would just post a photo. That is north of 2000 images. I had to, you know, shoot select, edit and deem worthy of representing my work to the world. That is only the tip of the iceberg because my hit rate is about 10% which means I have to make 100 photos to have 10 really good ones at the end. So to have 2000 photos that are, you know, deem worthy of posting, I had to shoot at least 20,000. The funny thing is that more than half these images that I would share that I would be like, this is good. Like, this is worth sharing. This is worth putting on my portfolio. Half of these, people wouldn't even resonate with them. You know, I would spend hours researching the location getting there with the right light. I'd have to go often, multiple times to get this photo. That was, I thought was, you know as close as possible to perfect to just sort of...

get meager feedback on it. And then I would spend 30 seconds, you know, somewhere to make a photo. I was like, oh cool. It's a nice moment, whatever. And then I would share that. And so for this day it happens, I would share that and people would, you know, think it's the best thing on earth and I would not understand it. So that has taught me that we're terrible judges of our own work. It took me time to understand that we're just not good at judging our worth or the output of our work. And it clearly is not even our business to do that. It's somebody else's business. What we have to do, what matters is day in and day out. Be out there, make work, grade it, you know, work on it make it as good as you can share it and move on. That's it. We can't, we just can't judge it. Most of you guys think that you're gonna come up with this magical images. You know, that's gonna- just this one image that's gonna get you all this recognition and this fame. And then your career be propelled into the stratosphere. But that couldn't be further away from the truth because you haven't done your million images or your 10,000 hour rule, whatever you wanna call it. You haven't walked the line yet. And until you do that, and even when you do that you shouldn't even try to compare your work or judge it. You just have to keep producing it. So in the end because I've walked the line and I still walk it. I can produce images that will have a better chance to resonate with people, but it's not a guarantee. And I'm not even here to judge it. Just remember that it's the practice and you just have to be out there making work. So I've told you what you can do, but what you cannot do is compare yourself to other photographers. Especially the ones, you know, you see on the internet with landing these gigs you wanna land or going to these places you wanna go, you can't compare to them because you don't have the same path. You haven't put the same perseverance as they've put to get where they are. And comparing yourself to them, is only gonna create anger and frustration and sadness in the end. In the end, there is nothing worse than being jealous of someone who has something you're not deliberately pursuing, right? That's just- that would be foolish. But yet you do that every day. You have to know why you do what you do. What's your prize? Because if you don't do that, you'll be endlessly comparing yourself to others. And it'll be a major distraction, first, but, second, it'll make you miserable. So, contentment is really only about meeting expectations that you have set for yourself and that's it. You have to avoid being in reaction mode all the time and just focus on your lane. Pick your lane. Don't change from it. Try to cultivate a bit more detachment from what you see online or magazines. It's good to look at it. Be inspired by it, but just don't let that affect you. Just look at it, take it for what it is, close it up and get to your work. Your responsibility. Your only responsibility is to focus on creating. Don't limit yourself. Don't try to judge the work as you're making it. Like I said earlier, just focus on the process and the technique, not on nailing it. So you have to fall in love with that process. And once you do that, there's no limit to what you can do. You just have to learn to love that process. The exercise. So this exercise is designed to get you shoot and to get you to fall in love with that process. So, what I want you to do is to get into a cadence. So, there's this hashtag we're gonna create it's gonna be called wildest one year challenge. And it's designed for you guys to share a photo that means something to you to the hashtag at least three times a week, every day if it's even better and we'll check them and then you can also go check who else is taking part of it and just be part of the community. Don't be a stranger to other people taking the challenge. That's what Instagram was back in the day. That's what's allowed me to meet so many people, is this community aspect. That's now it's so big. There's a billion users. So we need to create micro communities. And I think the wild one year challenge can become a beautiful micro community.

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Ratings and Reviews

Janelle Dransfield

A helpful combination of mindful and technical! I loved all aspects of the lessons Alex taught in this workshop! They were well thought out, specific, and easy to follow. Each category had numbered lists of steps, followed by more specific descriptions of them. The lesson about the art of negotiation, as well as the one out in the field with his dad were both full of really helpful first hand knowledge. (Also, side note: loved how his dad did NOT care about the production hahaha. Just a man about his business. A perfect example of someone you document and direct when you can!) The only reason I didn't give this five stars was because of the uncut interview episode with another photographer about how to find motivation. It was the longest episode, but there wasn't a lot of content there, and the video was really drawn out considering how much was actually being said. Maybe if the person being interviewed had been given an idea of the questions before hand, or if all the dead space had been edited out in-between, it would have felt like a little bit less of a filler? That being said, I really enjoyed this course overall and got a lot out of it! Well priced, and I would definitely buy again.

Oswaldo Martinez

Phenomenal guide to find YOUR reasons to be better This might be my favorite workshop from Alex. He shares amazing insights and provides frameworks to help you understand the why behind what you do, and plenty of valuable advice into how you can improve or find your own motivations. Loved this one.

Tommaso Novi

Absolutely amazing. You can see the works these community put in this course, is simply amazing and incredible. Inspiring is the right word!

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