I was sitting at my computer yesterday evening and feeling incredibly excited about a recent engagement photoshoot I did here in Lawton. Finishing up my editing and organizing the album, I was just giddy thinking about sharing them with the couple. I couldn't wait to share some of my favorites on my Instagram account and show off the smiles and gorgeous lighting we captured here in the Wichita Mountains.
I took a break from editing and just briefly started scrolling through Facebook to check on an inquiry and there, in a local military spouse group I joined, were three other posts (just like mine) introducing themselves as local photographers. Just like me, they shared their portfolios, Instagram handles, and beautifully edited photos of couples, babies, and families running in the Oklahoma sunshine. My excitement about my own photos subsided. I went back to my own Instagram account and felt as though my worth as a photographer was just crushed. For a few minutes when thinking about my current client numbers and income, I thought, "maybe I am just not going to make it in this over-saturated market."
But then I shut down all of my social media browser tabs. Stepped away from my phone. And just took a look at my photos. I asked myself, is this worth fighting for? I didn't even hesitate. Of course it was. I know my photos are genuine. They capture the pure happiness and smiles of my clients that they can't see like I can. They are composed well and I focus on my clients' needs and wants like I should. I know the investment in my photography gear, education, and community involvement is going to lead to success. I know it.
My "WHY" is so much bigger than that lingering question, "What is everyone else posting on social media?" I love meeting new couples, families and their little ones, brides-to-be, and newly engaged lovers. I love hearing their stories and capturing their emotions as we travel to find beautiful landscapes or even just cherished rooms in their homes. I love writing stories and I love sharing theirs. This has brought so much joy and light into my life and I am so confident that the Lord put this fire in my heart to pursue photography and other creative business endeavors because He has equipped me with what I need to succeed and achieve happiness.
Stay In Your Lane
When you're driving on the highway, you don't constantly look around at the other lanes seeing the other cars and thinking, their car is newer than mine, their car is faster than mine, their car is fancier than mine. You don't just stop in the middle of the interstate because you immediately think, my car isn't the same as theirs. No girl. You keep your eyes on the road ahead and stay in your own lane! That's the only way you will keep moving forward toward the destination you seek.
When Comparison Syndrome comes at me full force, I can't pretend I am the best at beating it. I am not. There are days like this that I feel like my photos aren't as pretty as theirs. I don't have the client numbers she has. My social media following is no where near theirs. But guess what, they were once here in my shoes thinking the same thing. "This person is doing much more business than me." Yes, probably because she has been doing this and building her portfolio and network for years and years. I am still in the first year of my business. "That girl's photos are so incredibly composed and her edits are flawless!" Yes, because she's spent time and money on being mentored and taking on assignments to practice and practice and... oh yea.. practice! "She has such a diverse client base and I can't even get one new one a month!" Yes, because she works with her clients regularly and prioritizes building trust, credibility, and a sturdy network of people who know and love her work... and it takes time.
All of these things make a photographer successful. It won't happen overnight. It may not happen in my first year. But I know these things take time, work, and investment. I am here for it. I am here to learn and immerse myself in the community to grow and produce incredible work for my clients. I am not here for me, I am here for those who trust me enough to stand in front of my camera on their biggest days, sharing their most cherished moments, and I put forth everything I have to ensure they love the photos they receive. THAT is how I combat Comparison Syndrome. I know that there are so many people out there who want to do what I do. But I know I am equipped with what I need (and no, I am not talking about camera equipment) in order to make this dream a reality. To own my own Creative business, create beautiful work, and make an impact of those around me. I have things to offer that these other photographers don't (and vice versa). But I know what I have to offer is valuable and it is worth it.
So the next time you find yourself doubting your value and worth in whatever you do because of what you see on someone else's feed. Remember this- they started right where you are now. Wondering if it's all worth it in the end. And now, they are living out their dream and creating the content that they, too, once admired and wondered if they'd ever reach. And this could be you, if only you believe it.