The world is inundated with superb photographs on a daily basis. It is an immensely saturated market. As someone passionate about photography, I’ll never stop working at my craft and trying to find my edge. However, I often feel grossly inadequate. Who am I to try to break into this market when it’s sadly undervalued by the general public and already dominated by artists far more talented than I?
My despondency somewhat evaporated when I saw a post from a photographer I consider to be quite good, lamenting her own struggles in the industry. On one hand, I thought, “this person creates so much better and more unique art than mine; if she’s having trouble, what chance do I have?” But then I thought, “wow, everyone struggles with this; perhaps I’m not so different. Maybe it’s more an issue with the industry than with my art. Why should I stop?”
It’s really difficult to not compare myself to those actually making a living doing what they love, but every so often, I have to take a step back and see how far I’ve actually come.
Two years ago, before I started my blog, I was hardly more than a casual photographer. Sure, I shot regularly for Kumoricon, and I loved bringing my camera on hikes, but I wasn’t shooting nearly every day as I am now. Committing myself to publishing photos regularly saw a lot of changes come into my photographic style and capabilities, because – guess what? – I’m now practicing… a LOT.
My landscapes used to be quite drab. I didn’t know how to really get that “punch.” While I will resist the garish HDR trap for as long as possible, I’ve learned many techniques to make my photos more compelling – both from the camera and in post (be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter if you want to learn some of those tricks, yourself).
I can even look at my pictures from a year ago and see how far I’ve come. I’m often tempted to go back and reedit an image with my now superior knowledge, and I can see clear lines in my photography where I learned about profile corrections in Lightroom or when I started using a tripod or when I stopped “spraying and praying” – when shooting a sunset. Yeah…
Comparing myself to… myself… is much more useful. Sure, I look up the totem pole to see how I can improve, but I also like looking backwards to see how I have improved; it’s good to check in periodically.
Crown Point in the Columbia River Gorge is a popular lookout, with views both up and downriver. It also represents a milestone. Most stop here on their way to the famed Multnomah Falls, traversing the old historic highway. And on a clear day, one might see the edges of Portland to the west, and the ribbon of the Columbia river stretching into the east – one possible origin toward an unknown possible destination.
Without really realizing it, I’ve come to see that I’ve turned a corner, passed a milestone. My Misty Morning post was picked up on Discover, and I now have over a thousand (!!) followers on my blog. That has to mean something, right?
In addition, I’m beginning to get noticed a little bit. A friend and photographer – whom I’ve always perceived as being a senpai in the field – recently complemented my work, stating I’m “crushing the landscapes scene.” Coming from someone I respect, this really means a lot to me. Yay, senpai noticed me!! (sorry – anime geek showing through.. but it’s ok, as he also happens to be primarily a cosplay photographer :))
Growth is slow, but I’m beginning to find myself in a position where other photographers look to me for guidance. I’ll never stop learning, I’ll continue to hone my art, and perhaps I can teach others to do the same.
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