Intimidation or Inspiration

When I was learning to play guitar, I used to listen to a lot of great guitarists. I'd replay some tracks and guitar solos over and over, not necessarily to learn how to play them but just for the sheer enjoyment. 

What I find interesting though is that only sometimes was I excited by the possibilities and inspired to be a better guitarist. Sometimes I'd just feel daunted and overwhelmed and thinking that I'd never be that good. Which turned out to be true of course, but then I never was very disciplined with my guitar practice (although I did once play a few small gigs in a band called 'The Mild Mannered Janitors'). 

So how come I was inspired sometimes and daunted at other times? I think part of the problem is the lie that it's all a competition. That only the best guitarist is worth listening too, only the best photographer worthy of attention. Wanting to be the best isn't wrong, but might not be what we're designed to be and do. The best technical guitarist isn't necessarily the one with the most artistry or the one who brings the most joy to their listeners.

There is a lot of jealousy apparent in online comments. Experienced photographers jealous when new photographers are successful. Professional photographers complaining about amateurs under-charging them. Teachers criticizing other photographers or their workshops in the hope of promoting their own. 

The problem is in the constant comparison of our own 'success' to that of someone else. It's difficult to be satisfied with your own situation if you see someone else making more progress with lower quality work. If you think you deserve to be doing better. Or if it just makes you frustrated and stressed.

I love looking at the work of other photographer's and I believe it's a key element in our own development as photographers. It can be constant supply of ideas and inspiration, and I want to enjoy what other photographers are doing rather than be concerned about it. If I know that my path isn't the same as Steve McCurry or Joe McNally or Sebastião Salgado, I can still learn from them and find inspiration in their work without feeling the frustration of constant comparison.

Hoboken, New Jersey, 2015

Hoboken, New Jersey, 2015

Paris, 2015

Paris, 2015