There is a movement that has been brewing in the photography industry. A movement that has finally gained momentum + is being seen, heard, + joined by photographers around the country + world. It is a movement that we are completely + totally behind. A movement about encouraging others, accepting yourself, + joining together to make a difference in our own lives + in our industry. It’s the #communityovercompetition movement.
While I believe this movement has been on people’s hearts (whether they realized it or not) for some time now, recently, an extremely gifted photographer based out of Maryland, Natalie Franke, wrote a post that has gone “viral” you could say. I would highly recommend checking it out if you ever find yourself struggling with issues of comparison (it’s not just for photographers!!)–the article can be found here. And just like the article isn’t for photographers, the movement isn’t either: #communityovercompetition is for everyone.
This morning at church, one of our pastors spoke about Jesus’ encounters with hypocrites–specifically with the Pharisees in Luke Chapter 11. Anyway, one of the things he talked about was how the Pharisees were obsessed with how they appeared on the outside … how well they were following religious “laws”, what others thought of them regarding status, what special dress they wore, etc. He mentioned that sometimes (okay, oftentimes) when we read the Bible, we think to ourselves, “What the heck does this have to do with me!?”–and the Pharisees are no exception. Then he shared some information with us from a recent study posted on money.cnn.com; the article examine the study called “Too much Facebook leads to envy and depression.” It’s worth taking a look at.
The article talks about how social media has become an avenue that is actually leading to increased envy + depression. I don’t think these are new thoughts, but it always seems that statistics like these are SO important to keep bringing up. To quote the author of the article:
Facebook has allowed me a little window into my friends’ lives back home. They have babies — well some of them have teenagers. They have lovely homes. And the dinners — oh the dinners they serve! There are food presentations that look like something out of a Martha Stewart magazine. I watch all the videos of their kids saying the darndest things. I click on their pictures of vacations in exotic places.
I have come to the conclusion that Facebook is a lifestyle magazine featuring my friends, who are doing it better than me.
See what’s happening here? #communityovercompetition–it’s not just for photographers. It’s for everyone. Our pastor gave the example of how his Facebook profile picture is the best picture ever taken of him–from four years ago. It’s not the most accurate representation of him, but it’s him after all, right? Or how he’ll delete photos that he’s tagged in or are posted of him if he doesn’t think they, again, “accurately represent” who he is. In doing all of this, he’s creating an image of who he is–how he wants people to see him. It’s all about what’s on the outside.
As a photographer, I see this happening all the time! To myself + to those around me. We compare our work (all of it … the good, bad, + ugly) to the photos that others’ are posting + all of a sudden we feel defeated. Man, I am NOT good enough for this!! Or we have a bad experience on a shoot, but since no one else ever posts about their bad experiences on their shoots, we think we are the ONLY ones that this happens too … what is wrong with me!? OR, like the author of the CNN article posted, we compare our homemade dinners to so-and-so’s homemade dinners (that are made completely from scratch + garnished to perfection) … gosh, why am I even making an effort to cook for my family?? I’m terrible at this!!!
It’s a silent little monster that slowly yet inevitable destroys us. It’s brings us down. It leads to ENVY + DEPRESSION.
But what if we all joined the movement? #communityovercompetition. What if we genuinely encouraged one another in our accomplishments + talents? I think it would be a LOT more freeing that we could ever imagine. That photographer friend who booked their dream wedding in Italy?? AMAZING!!! Be EXCITED for them!! And then think about the weddings that you are shooting right here at home–they are JUST as amazing + important. You know why? Because it’s about the PEOPLE. Think about the people you get to work with. They love you + your work. They are SO excited about you. And you should be just as excited about them!!! Or that friend who is SO good at decorating + whose house looks like it’s straight out of a magazine. LOVE IT!! That is a gift + passion they have been given–cheer them on!! Tell them how awesome you think their living room looks (if you mean it)!! And then look at yourself. Reflect. What are YOUR talents + passions?? Gardening? Story-telling + snuggling with your kiddos? Volunteering? Go do THOSE things–because they are what make YOU come alive!!
We have this one life (I don’t care how cheesy that sounds, we do!!). Let’s cheer each other on, let’s be a COMMUNITY of people. No one is good at everything or is passionate about everything. Find your niche, your light, + chase it. As you cheer others on, they will cheer you on, too. And it will be a beautiful thing. Photographers, accountants, stay at home moms, professional athletes, nurses, architects … let’s build each other UP.