I’m a photographer and like most of us, we also have a lot friends and acquaintances who are also photographers. There’s nothing wrong with that but I have noticed that if I’m not careful, all I see all day is someone else’s work.
Because of that I have a few people who I’ll sometimes check out and see what’s new. There are two specific reasons why I do this:
1) They’re friends: It’s important to celebrate each others success. We’re all on the same path here and trying to add value to the world. Follow your friends and let them know how awesome they are 🙂
2) I want to learn from them: I realize that I’ll never be in a place where I can afford to stop learning. Striving to be better at my craft is always a priority for me and I will continue to respect and learn from those who came before me.
(This is also why I listen to speakers, go to conferences, read books and blogs, and write. Continued growth and learning has to be a priority.)
The best way for me to do this is to intentionally sit down and search out my friends and make an effort to celebrate their new work. And while I’m at it, go in search of something I can learn to better my craft. Maybe it’s a conference or awesome blog post I saw floating around. So I either do it then or put it on the calendar for later and I’m done for that week in following other photographers.
(The rare exception here is if I see something pop up in my news feed, twitter, or instagram and then I go see what’s up. This can be tricky though and requires self-discipline to not do it every time you see something pop up.)
Don’t Look For Inspiration
There is one reason I do not look at other people’s work and that is for inspiration. Inspiration is something that happens to you. It’s usually not something you can go find. You can be inspired by other’s work and I often am, but I don’t go looking for it to be my primary source of stimuli for my own work.
If I’m constantly flooding my mind with the thoughts of others and using that as my main source of inspiration, then what’s going to come out isn’t going to be true to me. And I’m not down with that.
As with everything, always start with why?
Why am I looking at their work? How does it make me feel?
Let’s support one another. Let’s celebrate one another. Let’s learn from one another. But Let’s respect ourselves enough to be true to our own work. Because we all need your work. We already have everybody else’s.