Becoming a Photographer – Attack of the Green Eyed Monster

Image credit: Damian Dohman via 500px

I am loath to admit that I am a naturally jealous kind of person.  Even when I was growing up I was insanely jealous of my little brother and I still struggle with jealousy a bit in my personal relationships. 

 I’m not a Single White Female bunny boiler kind of jealous – I have it under control – but jealousy does rear its ugly head and I have to beat it back down again with a stick.

How does this translate into my creative life?  Well quite frankly it’s a bit of a pain in the arse if I’m honest.  I see other people’s successes and sometimes it makes me feel bad. 

There is no rational basis for it.  I’m doing well myself – I’m phenomenally pleased with how my business is growing and I’ve got some really exciting projects lined up for this year-  and I’m always really happy for people when they get the recognition they deserve, especially as I know how hard a lot of them work to get it.   

I can’t put my finger on why I feel the way I do.  It’s not rational and it’s pretty destructive so I thought I’d talk about some ways of dealing with it. 

Get rid of the negativity

Think positively.  If someone else does well, be pleased for them.  Even if you’re not pleased for them to begin with, force yourself to acknowledge the fact that they’ve probably worked really hard to get where they are. 

And if you can’t be genuinely pleased for them fake it.  Fake it hard. 

Bitter and cynical is a pretty unattractive default position.  If you come across as a bitter and cynical person you will affect your own ability to be successful as people won’t want to work with you and clients won’t want to book you. 

If you try hard enough to be positive, you will feel more positive and you’ll get over your disappointment more quickly.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Social media is wonderful in a lot of ways but it doesn’t present a very accurate view of  what’s really going on behind the scenes. 

I might update my Twitter/Facebook to say that I’m working on an amazingly cool project when in actual fact I’m sitting at home watching Homes Under The Hammer, devouring a whole packet of chocolate hobnobs and wondering why my phone isn’t ringing off the hook with brilliant opportunities. 

People present themselves in the best positive light because they are, on the whole, using social media as a PR tool.  Even people that aren’t using social media for business purposes are using it as a PR tool to some extent. 

You don’t tell all of your Facebook friends that you can’t afford to pay the rent this month, you sensor the information that you put out into the world.  Well you do if you have any sense….

Because of this, if you compare yourself to the successes of others based on what they CHOOSE to tell you, you may very well end up feeling inadequate by comparison.  

Judge yourself by your own successes and behaviour, not by the successes or behaviour of others.

Have a little moan/whinge about it

Talk to people who will let you get it off your chest.  

A little, tiny moan/whinge is good for the soul.  Any more than that becomes wallowing in your own self pity, not to mention being pretty unpleasant for the poor soul that gets to be on the other end of your whinging. 

You may wish to accompany your whinge/moan with a glass of wine or a biscuit.   Or several glasses of wine and several biscuits. 

 Learn from other’s successes

 What did the other person do that enabled them to achieve success.  Is there anything you can learn from their approach?  I’m not for a minute suggesting you copy what they actually did, but look at their approach to marketing/PR/networking/planning/inspiration and see how you could use some of their techniques to suit your approach. 

Look how far you’ve come

Look back at your achievements.  Write them down.  Write down every single thing that you’ve done and that you’re proud of.  You will feel better when you look at how much you’ve achieved.

And look forward

Have you written down goals that you’re actively working towards?  If you have identified some key things that you want to achieve and you’re able to keep working on those things and ticking them off your list, it will keep you motivated and you’ll feel less jealous of others.  Yeah, ok, so they did x but you’ve done A, B and C towards meeting your personal goals. 

Acknowledge that life’s not fair

Of course if the subject of your jealous rage actually doesn’t deserve their success (in your opinion…) it can be pretty hard to swallow, however life really isn’t fair sometimes and all you can do is acknowledge it and move on. 

Don’t let that bitter cynicism prevent you from having your own success. 

This too shall pass

It’s normal to feel like shit sometimes.  We all have days where we get out of the wrong side of bed and then a seemingly little thing tips us over the edge.  It’s ok to feel that way and sometimes you just have to ride it out. 

Ride it out while eating chocolate hobnobs and drinking a massive glass of red wine.  Tell yourself tomorrow will be better.


Do you suffer with professional jealousy?  What do you do to deal with it? 

Laura x

14 thoughts on “Becoming a Photographer – Attack of the Green Eyed Monster

  1. Laura i love your honesty, it made me smile and yes i admit there were bits that rang a bell, i have one question though is some of your jealousy misinterpreted is it just creative frustration as is – why didnt i do that first? I say this only because i wonder how you can be jealous of others work when you produce the stuff you do? Its just a thought !

  2. Great post, Laura. I definitely understand what you mean.

    I do look at all the amazing wedding photographers out there, yourself included and think I’m kidding myself that I am good enough to do this and jealous of other people’s creative minds.

    I tend to share anyone’s work I admire if they post on Facebook or Twitter. Even if it isn’t my acheivement, I think it should be shared. I use the emerald beast to spur me on and try and create my own successes.


  3. Great, and very honest post! I certainly have people I talk to privately about things. It’s good to get it out, get it off my chest and I usually feel better afterwards. I think though, it’s also about remembering what you’ve got yourself. I know that sounds like an odd thing, but sometimes, we have lots of other things around us that other people lack. Maybe we’ve not won an amazing competition, but instead been featured in a top class blog? Maybe we weren’t in a top class blog, but we’ve landed a couple of incredible weddings ahead of us. Maybe we’re at the start of things, no weddings booked, but we do have an amazing family ready to support us. We all have things others would love to have – it’s about remembering that when we need to – we can’t have all the luck, it has to be shared around!

  4. I am 110% with you on this, I too am a naturally jealous kind of person and it usually ends up with beating myself up about things! I find I have to constantly plan or work on my business to force it out and show to myself that I am working hard too and one day, one beautiful shiny day I too will make other people jealous. I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a horrible person! :S

  5. Great post as usual. I feel a little professional jealousy coming on about your blog! I think a little healthy jealousy about others’ success is good thing because it does push you to achieve more and look up to others are doing as an example. I always remind myself that the people I admire have been in the same boat as me at some point, and it’s took them a lot of hard work to get to where they are today. Then I think to myself, if I work hard I can achieve these things too – it just takes time.

  6. When I read your post, the quote that jumped out at me was one by Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. I think having a bit of jealousy is healthy as it makes you try harder and sets that bar higher. Other people’s work can be your greatest inspiration! (and can help divert the course of negative energy, into positive!) Great post and it is very honest.

  7. Pingback: World Happy Day, and Thank You for the Inspiration | Marina Chetner

  8. Oh girl, I know exactly where you’re coming from. Sometimes when I see the incredible work that other photographers are doing I wonder if maybe I should just give up now. I can get so down on myself. But then I remember that comparing my behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reels is ridiculous. And I tell myself to work harder if I want more success because everyone has to start somewhere and my situation can only get better. Plus little things happen, like getting a referral from someone I think is great (thank you, by the way) and it gives me the kick up the backside I need to face up to my demons, overcome my jealousy and just get on with being me to the best of my abilities.

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re pretty inspiring, young lady. And I love that you posted with such honesty about this. Go you! x

  9. Thanks to all of you for your comments and words of encouragement.

    It’s great to know it’s not just me that feels this way and I totally agree that jealousy isn’t always a bad thing if you channel it in a positive way.

    Big kisses. xx

  10. Great post again laura. I think most people suffer from a bit of professional jealously at some time or another. Those who say they don’t aren’t admitting to it im sure! If you can use it positively and learn from it then that’s great. Trying to not let it eat you up and affect your own business is the only way to go.

  11. Laura, this is such a great post and I suffer from this on a daily basis. I have had to remove myself from a number of Facebook groups to avoid comparring myself to others, and have taken friends off of my FB who were not helping my cause, ie “look at this amazing photo by x photographer who is soooo absolutely amazing, why don’t you do this?”- gah!!!

  12. A really great post that’s true on so many levels. Your comments on social media were spot on, it can be hard when we’re ‘plugged in’ to so many networks not to constantly compare yourself to others and to keep sight of what you actually want to be doing. I love your honesty xxx

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