Everyone is every field of work finds themselves doubting their abilities at one point or another, especially when comparing themselves to another professional. I find this especially true for photographers and have nicknamed this feeling as the “impostor effect.” The only thing holding you back at this point is you and I’ll let you know why.
By comparing your work to that of other photographers in your field you will always be holding yourself back from your potential. This person may have a decade of experience on you or even longer. Maybe they were less skilled when they were starting out as you were. Or maybe they are the ones envying your work. I find that I am my own worst critic and maybe you are too. Confidence is the key to getting to where you want to be with your abilities. If you continue to doubt yourself you will prevent yourself from moving forward, or worse; you will not notice your own improvement and accomplishments.
You should revel in the accomplishments you have already made. Look at your first photo shoot and compare it to your latest work. You have already come so far and will continue to do so. Photography is a learning experience that never ends and a field that is forever evolving with new techniques, styles, trends, and technology. You will always be learning. The day you stop is the day you stop improving. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself.
Looking at the work of others can be inspirational. I love learning new ways to pose, light, and style and observation is one of the best ways to learn. If you must try something out, ask the photographer if you can use their idea before hand. After all, they own the idea. But be fearful about copying. In today’s social media world it is far too easy to see something, love it, then try it yourself. This can be fine sometimes because you learn best by doing. But don’t you remember the word plagiarism from school? Copying the work of others is not only plagiarism, it is illegal and goes against copyright laws. In other words, you can get into a lot of scary legal trouble.
Nobody likes a copycat and clients want original work. If you are too busy copying someone else you will spend less time being original. Instead, get inspiration from books, movies, music, poetry, television shows, art history, sculptures, museums, and the world around you. No one is completely original. We are all influenced some way by the media around us and our past experiences. It is the personal touches we put on this influence that makes us unique. You will be amazed by what you can photograph by using your own creativity. Keep an inspiration journal for great ideas.
What to do if your copyrights are the ones being infringed on? If it is serious enough, you may want to contact a lawyer about protecting your work. You can also leave a polite message to ask the plagiarist (or person who stole your original photo) to remove the work and not to infringe again if they don’t want to be sued. If it is just annoying, focus on doing what you do best and keep doing it as good as you do. There is only one you and no one can do that better than you can. PEOPLE ARE PRETTY SMART. They will notice when someone is copying someone else. Then forget about it because it is not worth the effort of brooding about it.
Be inspired, try new ideas, be creative, and always be open minded to learning more. There is beauty everywhere if you know how to look at the world with your own eyes, your own unique lens.
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