"I'm not interested in competing with anyone, I hope we all make it"
I think like many starting out I was competing with everyone, looking at their work, who they worked with and desperate to make my mark. What I discovered is that it held me back and left me standing in too many hallways unable to open the doors that I wanted. I was also trapped within myself, firing in so many different directions, trying to be like everyone else simultaneously. Consequently it slowed the development of my own style as I was trying to emulate those I saw as successful, trying to shoot what they shot.
I think there is almost a mental illness with looking at other work, there is a fine line between being inspired by it and causing cognitive distortions. Some days I could look at the masters like Avedon, Seliger, Liebovitz, Penn or newer faces such as Robbie Fimmano, Joey L, Clay Cook or Sandro and instead of being inspired almost fall into a complete depression that I will never be good enough. Days like these I should be happy that my version of Photoshop does not have a "Seliger" button that instantly turns my work into the masterpieces he produces, gosh the ones at Vanity Fair's Oscars party inspired absolute envy. On these days I should be happy that by not having that magic button I am forced to develop and refine my own style of how an image looks, and most importantly remember that once upon a time those guys sucked...well except for Erik Almas, I am fairly certain he was producing incredible advertising composites in the delivery room !
The quote at the beginning of the blog was posted by a friend of mine and a good reminder. Over the past year or so I developed an attitude toward other photographers of encouragement, of simply enjoying their work, almost the reverse of what often passes for the photographer "community" of tearing one another down. I don't need to, we all have our "thing", what drives us, makes us want to take and create photographs and by stepping back and enjoying their work I became much happier within myself and more comfortable with the path I am taking. It is a very easy and insidious trap to fall into, one I started to step into again last week, seeing others work and those feelings of jealousy of "why are they getting these breaks and why aren't I"..it is small and petty to have those feelings, and they hurt me and my progress both as a photographer and human being.
While I was having those thoughts the reality is that they are ridiculous, I have my vision, and I have my path to walk, we are working on expanding our presence, new markets into other cities are happening, new clients and the work I'm being hired for is beginning to solidify along the lines of where I would like to be. The future is very bright, everything is steadily moving where we need it to be going and we are working each of the steps needed to get there. Those are the things I need to focus on 24x7, expanding and working with people who share that drive and vision.
I might not be where I want to be down the line, that inner yearning and drive to get there, to take all the images in my mind are still there, and I will get there, but I am where I need to be, and it really is a damn good place.