The other day I heard a quote that I instantly loved and it was, of course, RIGHT ON TIME.
"I'm too busy growing my own grass to notice if yours is greener"
I remember when I first moved to Charleston and met our neighbors, Bob and Rose, it took me all of 5 minutes to learn that Bob was proud of his yard. Our yards were an extension of each other (no divider) so if ours looked like crap... it sort of creeped into theirs (un-intentionally of course).
We tried so hard to get our grass to grow but who knew you had to water your yard SO MUCH and fertilize it? Let alone understanding specific times of the day were better than others? It's an intense process that doesn't happen over night. It takes time.
I spent many days looking at Bob's grass. In this case the grass really was greener on the other side! Id get so disappointed and frustrated that our grass wasn't as green or as soft.
So often I overlooked the fact they had sod brought in a few years earlier, they didn't have as many trees taking all the nutrients AND their yard looked like crap when they first started too.
Yup, it sure did. They had the SAME EXACT struggles we did but we were at opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to our grass growing journey.
I'm confident that this same concept can apply to pretty much everything in life. Granted there are some crazy talented people in life that can just be good at most things, learn things quickly and just breeze through life. But for the rest of us - not so much. Things take time.
I especially struggled with comparing when I first started taking photos.
Seriously folks. Photography is freaking hard.
There is SO much that goes into making a good image. Things you never know or take into consideration when you look at a finished image.
At the start I knew it would be difficult but I never knew I'd be almost 4 years into my photo journey and still feel like i'm getting nowhere fast. Then I started to lose myself to comparing.
I started "following" people on facebook and pinterest first because I was looking for inspiration but it turned out I was chasing an unrealistic dream. Not because it was un-attainable but because it wasn't what I really wanted. It's not meant for me.
I started to be jealous and disappointed about not having loads of clients, a studio filled with props and a million likes on fb.
Then I had a reality check - I really don't want any of that.
On occasion a studio would be sweet to do some personal projects but lets be realistic - i'm going to be moving every three years and I don't charge much if any for my photos so unless I buy a studio on wheels I can bring with me what I wanted wasn't in line with what truly drives me as a photographer and an artist.
I started chasing a dream that looked great on other people yet I wasn't happy. I'm sure it would be the same as trying to wear a dress that looks great on your best friend but it's not even the right size/fit for you? Things in life are meant purposefully for different people and that's that!
Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman said "Photography is a lifelong path for me, not something I want to soar, crash and burn out on. By continuing to put myself out there, and being ok with not hitting a home run every time, I continue to embrace the losses.. because it's those very losses that I continue to learn and grow from as an artist."
BOOM! That statement will be printed and hung on my wall soon. It's a pleasant reminder for me that i'm on track and that it takes time.
I love her work and what she stands for but that does not mean I want to be her... or anyone else for that matter. I want to be me and I want to do what I LOVE.
I want to take an image that makes people feel something when they look at it.
I'm not ever saying it's not easy to not compare and trust me I know that going against main stream is no easy task. Clients will be unhappy when I say no and don't provide what they want. But honestly it's not my job to please everyone. Thats a big task i'm not about to take on.
It is, however, my job to find what i'm good at and run with it.
Which is why lately i've been pushing myself more to follow MY passion as a lifestyle/documentary photographer and maybe eventually try some photojournalism? Who knows where this journey will take me but as long as it's my journey and no one else's i'm sure it'll be a wild and fulfilling ride!
Wouldn't you know as soon as I stopped worrying about other peoples grass... mine started to grow!