It’s very easy to feel negative about our own photography. With a deluge of new, amazing photos alighting on our Instagram feeds every day, it’s often hard not to feel discouraged. To think that we’ll never measure up, never be as successful, never take photos that wow other people.
This is no way to measure ourselves as photographers. We can’t compare ourselves to others, because we’re all at different stages of our own photographic journeys. The only person we can measure against is our past self.
Even then – sometimes we feel like we’re making no progress. The process becomes monotonous and we feel discouraged. That we’ll never take a better photo.
But that’s not the point.
If you enjoy time spent photographing, reviewing and processing your images, then you’re going in the right direction. Why do we take photos? Because we enjoy it. It’s the reason and the goal. The day it stops being fun (may that day never come!) is the day we need to re-evaluate why we’re doing it.
I have to remind myself of this a lot, because sometimes I get so caught up in making ‘better’ images that it starts to lose that pure enjoyment that drew me to photography in the first place. And that’s when I need to put the camera down and stop trying for a while. There’s a time and a place to push through, and improvement is about hard work – there’s a place for frustration because that’s what drives us to do better. But we need to balance that frustration.
I keep my favourite images close to me – as prints, or on my phone, or as my desktop background. They remind me of the thrill I get when a photo comes out just as I wanted it – or, more often, of those serendipitous moments that I never expected. And this keeps the joy of image-making, of capturing these moments, making these memories in the forefront of my mind. And instead of frustration, I can relax and look for inspiration in different places, take a new direction, and make mistakes on my continuous journey towards being the best photographer that I can be.