We remember the first time we held cameras in our hands and had clients on the other end. Do you? The exhilaration of it. The sheer terror of it. The I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing of it. The I’m-scared-out-of-my-mind-but-putting-on-a-brave-face of it. It’s not easy what we do. It’s the beaten path for sure. And if there’s one thing we’ve maintained from the beginning, it’s that no one — no one — comes out of the womb as a photographer. Yet, when we waded into these waters years ago, we assumed everyone else did. We’d see other photographers at all different stages of business and think, That’ll never be us! because their success seemed like a birthright instead of what is was: a labor of love. And, of course, like we all do, we let comparison steal our joy. We’d purchase a new lens… and then feel jealous of the photographer we followed who had one more. We’d hear others talk about how many weddings they’d shot the previous season… when we’d only booked a few. We’d finish a session knowing we’d done our best work yet, only to get home, open our laptops, look at someone else’s blog, and see how far we still had to go.

We let comparison steal our joy

We let comparison steal our joy. We allowed someone else’s tenth year in business make our first year feel small. And, if we’re all being honest with each other, we all still do. We spend too much time comparing our beginning to someone else’s middle, our middle to someone else’s end, or our middle to someone else’s beginning — and we shouldn’t — because apples aren’t oranges and oranges aren’t apples, and the minute we start comparing ourselves to others is the moment we
stop celebrating both of us. Isn’t that so true? Let’s use the people ahead of us as lighthouses so we don’t hit the same rocks they did, and as horizons so we know the direction of our course, while always remembering that neither are the finish line. Because there isn’t a finish line, because growth never stops. It never ends. It’s never finished. You’ve never “made it” because there’s not a final destination. “Made it” is just a mirage. We’re all in a constant season of refining.

In the classroom, we never measured one student against another. How could we? Each child walked into our classroom as a unique individual with a distinct set of life experiences and circumstances (some within their control, but most outside of their control) that made them who they were in that moment. The best thing we could do, for them — and for us — was to measure their success based on their growth from the beginning of the school year to the end, taking into consideration their capabilities, obstacles, and life challenges (or even life advantages).

As adults, looking at children, that makes sense. We know that. It’s easy to understand. So why don’t we believe that the same idea applies to adults. To photographers. To us. The single mom’s not in the same position as the husband and wife team without kids, right? We can all agree on that. There are thousands of other factors that affect where you are and what you’ve done up until this moment in your life, and although those shouldn’t be used as excuses or crutches to avoid the hustle it takes to make it in this business (because it takes hustle… a lot of it), give yourself permission to use them to celebrate what you have achieved… and what you still can. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned in this business, in any business, (heck!) in life, it’s that there’s not a finite amount of compliments, happiness or encouragement in this world. There’s an unlimited amount, and it’s ours for the taking. But as important as it is for us to take some for ourselves, it’s more potent and powerful when we share it with others.

So, we’ve got a challenge for you today, friends, whether you’re a photographer or not, and here it is: choose two people, one who’s where you were and one who’s where you want to be, and send them an encouraging message. You never know how much it could mean. And, while you’re at it, go back to your first ever shoot and spend a few minutes looking at your first images. Feel proud of how far you’ve come, but never forget how your felt then, because someone who’s there now might need you to be their lighthouse to guide them to where you are today. Cheers to you and cheers to joy!

Photographers, if you’d like some weekly encouragement & education written just for you, sign up for our free Monday Minute here, and kick your week off to the right! We hope this can be a blessing to you and your business!

El Chorro Wedding_0023

Alisa

16 comments
filed in: Education

    Amanda

    Amy and Jordan, I cannot thank you enough for all of your posts. I check your blog every day and it really has been an inspiration to me personally and professionally. Because of you, I bought Dave Ramsey's book two days ago and I am pretty sure it will change our lives forever! Your smiles, love and good cheer brighten my day, so thank you thank you thank you!
    PS. I hope you can visit the Cinque Terra in Italy...truly beautiful! Happy travels friends :)
    Amanda

    Amy & Jordan

    Aw! Amanda! This is an AMAZING comment! Thank you so much for telling us. We're so honored to have you checking in with us every day. Go get 'em, friend!

    Amy & Jordan

    Amanda!! So awesome!! Thank you so much for saying all that. Really. It means the world to us! YES! Dave Ramsey is the best and his principles are life-changers (mostly because they're God's principles just re-packaged). We just got home and had an amazing adventure together! Thanks for being patient for this response :-)

    Thank-You Amy & Jordan! This post resonates with us. It is so easy to look elsewhere and compare. Thank-You for the reminder and have fun traveling the world!

    Amy & Jordan

    You bet, friend! And thanks for the love! We're having a blast in Europe!

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Luke and Ashley! Thanks so much for the encouragement! We just got home from Europe so that's why we're so delayed in responding! All the best!

    Lauren Hooker

    I love this. I'm not a photographer, but I am a creative small business owner. And in the design world, it's so easy to fall into the comparison trap. Your words of wisdom are spot on and your challenge is such a great idea! I admire your business and all of the heart behind it. Thanks so much Amy and Jordan! I love following along with you two!

    Amy & Jordan

    What?! Lauren! This is SO sweet! We're so glad to have along for the ride! And, yes, we totally agree. It's SO easy to fall into the comparison trap as creatives. The best thing we can do is pray for others to have all the good things WE wants for ourselves. It's the most freeing prayer ever :-)

    Amy & Jordan

    Aw! Thanks so much, Lauren! You're so right, too. Creative professionals are one of the rare professions where we're all always seeing each other's work all the time, and it's so easy to get caught up in comparison because it's, well, so easy to compare. Sorry for the delayed response! We just got back from vacation :-)

    Kristy & Vic

    This post is fantastic! Exactly what I needed to see in this season and it's so true! Thank you for sharing this and opening up to others! You guys are fantastic!

    Amy & Jordan

    So awesome, Kristy! Glad it came at the right time! Thanks for your kind words :-)

    Amy & Jordan

    Hey, guys! You bet! So glad it was helpful!

    Patricia

    Thank you Amy & Jordan for your genuine words of wisdom. I'm a passionate photographer hobbyist on my days off and a school teacher by day like you were. I'm at a crossroads myself in terms of what I want to do in my next chapter of life. I'm trying to take my personal hobby and share it with others in term of trying to capture those special moments for them. Your blog really hit the spot of comparing my beginnings with others' middle and ends and I know I shouldn't do that, but continue to do so. However, I am promising myself to stop that bad habit and focus on the positives as well as how far I've come. So THANK YOU so much for sharing your story.

    Amy & Jordan

    Aw! Love this, Patricia! Keep at it, friend, and know that you've got two people here who TOTALLY get what you're going though every step of the way. We're cheering you on :-)

    Marcia Florian

    Amy & Jordan, I loved this Blog, it was so eloquently written. It pretty much describes all phases of life and our struggle to improve and succeed, no matter what our chosen profession is or was. You two are wise beyond your years.

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Marcia! Thank you so much for your kind words! You're so sweet! We're so happy to hear you enjoyed this blog post! <3