1. “Comparison is the thief of joy” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Be it final images, camera gear, or number of likes and subscribers, comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to destroy your love of photography. If you are anything like me you spend a fair amount of your time looking at images created by other photographers. It is a very slippery slope to start down once you start comparing your work to the myriad of images out there. There will always be photographers that are ‘worse’ than you as well as others that are ‘better’ than you. As hard as it may be, simply stop comparing your work to the work of others! Instead, if you run across an image that blows you away, use it as a guidepost as to where you want to be with your photography in the future or use the image as practice and to try and replicate it. If possible, reach out to the photographer and start a dialogue about the image. Turn the ‘competitor’ into a mentor. I can’t recall how many times I have done this and the outcome has always been positive. And if someone reaches out to you about your work, be gracious and take the time to discuss your work with them. Worry less about what others are doing and spend more time focusing on what you are doing. If you busy yourself trying to improve your own craft, you simply won’t have the time for comparisons.
2. Believing better or more expensive gear will automatically result in you being a better photographer or producing better images
Nothing can be more frustrating than purchasing new equipment expecting to get amazing results only to discover your images fall frustratingly short of your expectations. In addition to going broke, you’ll go broke with images that are generally the same quality as images you produced before the purchase. If you don’t understand how to properly use the new equipment, your images may actually turn out worse. A skilled photographer will always get better pictures from an average camera than an unskilled photographer will from the best equipment. If you buy new equipment, use the excitement of new equipment to get you up and shooting. It’s that increased practice of photography that will result in becoming a better photographer, not the new equipment in and of itself. The equipment is just a tool. Learn to use the tools you have and discover where the equipment might be failing your needs before getting new equipment, then start researching new equipment that might fill that need. Photography can be a very expensive hobby. Make each purchase mean something other than “it was on sale”.
3. Changing your style to please others
When most people pick up their first camera, it isn’t to try and please someone else. Most people grab their first camera because of the creative process behind the hobby. Most people start out taking pictures of things they enjoy. Never stop doing that! On occasion, you may need to change your style to please a client or two however doing this repeatedly will result in a loss of interest rather quickly. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to garner more subscribers, followers, or likes, if you try and please the masses, photography will become less pleasurable and more like a job (and a job you begin to despise). Do what you like doing and continue taking pictures of subjects you find interesting and those that appreciate it will find you.
4. Finding yourself in a creative block or rut
There are simply times you lose personal satisfaction in what you are creating for no real apparent reason. This happens to all of us. Expect this to happen from time to time and you won’t be so discouraged when it does finally happen. You can either work through it or give up. If you give up, your gear will start to sit on the shelf for longer stretches of time collecting more and more dust. I find the best way to break out of a creative rut is to actually shoot more. Try digging up some of your very first images and attempt to recreate them again with your new set of skills. I force myself to engage in a photography project or idea even if I’m not feeling it. Others find taking a short break rejuvenates their passion. Whatever works best for you, don’t give up. The creative process will return eventually if you allow it to.
5. Trolls, haters, and negative comments
Once you put yourself out there on the internet and in the world of social media, you are bound to have those that simply enjoy tearing down and insulting your work. Such comments can often times make you reconsider posting your work or can even make you reconsider your passion altogether. Grow a thicker skin and march on! Think of it this way, your work caused someone to take the time to respond to it, even negatively. I once heard a statement to the effect that trolls are attracted to crowds of people and crowds of people are generally associated around great work. DO NOT respond back to trolls and haters, just delete or ignore their comments and take satisfaction in the fact they felt it necessary to react to your work. Let the haters hate. One day they may ask to work with you. It's happened to me.
I have been engaged in photography for a while now and I cannot tell you how many people I have seen come into the art of photography that have since disappeared clean off the map. Perhaps some people were just dabbling in the hobby to see if they enjoyed it only to discover they didn’t but I’m sure a fair amount of them lost their interest because of one or two of the reasons stated above, if not all the reasons (or other reasons not listed above). If it’s not for you, by all means, find something that does speak to your creative side before spending way too much money. But if you are passionate about the art and any one of the reasons listed above has you hesitant about continuing, continue anyway. "Art, freedom, and creativity will change society faster than politics." ~ Victor Pinchuk.
Keep the interesting parts of life in focus.