One of the hardest challenges faced as a photographer is how to grow, without losing the inherent curiousness you have when you are starting out. I’m finding this very hard at the moment. I’m attempting to look at other photographers work who I admire (currently Dylan M Howell, Nirav Patel, Ryan Muirhead and a few others.) But I don’t want to look at my work and see their vision. I want my photographs to stand on their own feet.
This is a major struggle for me, do I continue to look up to other photographers and their work? Or do I hide it from my daily life. I feel that the stress of not reaching their standards hurts my artistic vision, but the challenge of reaching the next level helps drive me.
Can we have one without the other? I’m not sure. I personally think we need the pain of comparison to make ourselves better artists. We need to be embarrassed about our work sometimes. I guess you’ll never be happy with your work if you’re always trying to improve.
That last thought is really sinking in with me currently. We sign up for a never-ending journey of hating our current work, our past work, and possibly being discouraged of our future work. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. The only real alternative would be being content with your work, leading to stagnation in every way.
That gets down to the foundation of art, pain. We’ll always be in some sort of pain, otherwise we have nothing.