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Don’t Let Your Ice Cream Melt While You Are Counting the Sparkles on Someone Else’s

I wish I had said that. I confess that I copied it off a church’s outside sign that I pass virtually every day. The object, of course, is to caution against comparing yourself to others. Psychologists will tell you that this can lead to bad consequences. Some point to increased suicide rates at highly competitive colleges although they caution that suicide is seldom attributable to only one cause. There is no doubt, however, that any kind of social comparison (accomplishments, looks, economic status) can cause a feeling of “coming up short,” often with very negative consequences.

It’s interesting to me that I have often read about this comparison business in relation to photography, and that’s what I have been thinking about recently. Quite often when I pass that church sign, in fact. (It has been up several weeks now and was still there this very morning.)

I suspect that many photographers are jealous of the work of others. I’m not talking about pros, but about BPG members who have day jobs or are retired. This is driven home every month when I see the relatively few images entered in our Photo of the Month contest when considering our total membership numbers. (I estimate less than 30 people hung photos last month, compared to a membership of around 200, and there are undoubtedly other reasons than the one I’m discussing in play.) I suppose some consolation can come from the fact that there are many online talking heads saying that this almost-obsession of comparing our work to that of others happens to practically everybody.

Examine yourself. If you feel the slightest reluctance to hang up a photo because you don’t think it’s as good as what you have seen on the display boards, STOP IT! It’s perfectly normal to be your own best critic, but “if you like it, it’s perfect.” Besides that, you can be confident that others will not notice the “little things” that you wish you had not missed. Your focus should be on improving yourself, and seeing your photo hanging alongside those of others in a given category allows you to maybe see what you could have done better.

Meanwhile, I will expect you to have one or two of your images up on the boards. Think about it.

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