A little while ago I watched a YouTube video entitled "How to deal with creative jealousy...and get back to work". It was uploaded by Sean Tucker, whose videos I recommend to everyone - not just photographers.
And now, a few months later, I've found the need to go back over what Sean said and put it into practice.
I went full-time freelance around a year ago, and since then I've had to cope with all that brings: solitude, feelings of inferiority and, of course, creative jealousy. (There's also a bunch of good stuff, but that's for another blog post.)
Creative jealousy, as Sean says, is a result of feeling inadequate and projecting those feelings onto other people. Whether it's the clients your "competitors" are getting, cool work they've made, or the branding they've created for themselves. Everything is a potential source of creative jealousy.
Since I've been getting more jobs - and missing out on some jobs - I've found myself feeling more jealous of other photographers.
Why getting more jobs made me feel more jealous
That might seem strange, but I think it's because I've started seeing myself as a legitimate photographer. (Don't assume I've overcome those feelings of inferiority just yet - I haven't.)
When I just started out, perhaps I thought of myself as a bit of an imposter. Now, I'm serious about holding myself as a real-life, actual, professional photographer. And maybe a bit less of an imposter.
That's not to say I'm now much better than I was back then. I've still got a hell of a lot to learn. But now I appreciate that what I do is valuable, and definitely not easy. I've dedicated hundreds, maybe thousands of hours to improving and learning over the years. It's not just a case of turning up with a camera in hand and pressing the shutter.
What I tell myself when I feel jealous
But the jealousy is never truly overcome. Now, when I hear that another photographer has landed a job, I try to tell myself a few things:
One. This is not the only job in the world. There will be others.
Two. They earned this job. Don't underestimate what they've done to get it.
Three. Them being creative/successful does not take away from my ability to be creative/successful.
Being a freelancer will always be a tough gig in so many ways. On top of all these internal conflicts, there's plenty of admin and unpleasant stuff to keep me busy. I'm still finding my feet with all of those things. But now, with a little conscious thinking now and then, I'm hoping that jealousy will fade into the distance.
And for those interested in Sean Tucker, take a look at the video above. He's great to listen to, whether he's talking about specific photography tips or musing on life in general. And beyond that, he's a top photographer with some beautiful work. Check him out.