What steals the joy and life out of everything it touches? COMPARISON!!! Let's have a real talk for a second, because this is a huge thing! I see it over and over again. In motherhood, in a career driven corporate environment, in a family owned small business, in entrepreneurship, in relationships, friendships, church, you name it! I'm not an expert, an influencer, or anyone other than an ordinary, common, scripture seeking, photographer, mom; but I know that love can overcome all things comparison. This is always a good reminder for me, and I thought since it was on my mind, I would share!
There is always an opportunity for comparison, in all its sneakiness, to slide right in, and before you even realize, all your joy has been replaced by misery, insecurity, and judgement. It's not a fun place to be or a healthy place to be. Life is so much more than comparison, and there is so much joy to be experienced in your life AND for others as they go through theirs; if you can keep that comparison thief away from your joy.
Actually, if anyone can experience genuine joy for those around them, and celebrate the victories and wins going on in other's lives, even if that isn't exactly what is being experienced internally, you've unlocked the secret to becoming a people magnet! Everyone craves being near joy almost as much as being near that person that just seems to radiate calm.
As a photographer, I thought this would be a great topic to bring up, because gorgeous pictures seem to notoriously invite our sneaky comparison friend right in and offer them a drink to stay. Trust me, I'm guilty of the very same! It's hard to not compare pictures to pictures from one photographer to another, or to compare that one frozen moment in time of a picture perfect family (literally!) to your own family and think- "pfffhh, my life has never looked that way." or "That's not real life!" I'm here to say: I hear you!
Here are my thoughts on this topic as a photographer. It's hard to see an image, and not immediately view it in relation to you or your life. Life has all kinds of seasons. Hard seasons, fun seasons, growing seasons, painful seasons, and joyful seasons. Sometimes, you might be in one. Sometimes, you may be experiencing many at the same time. It takes a lot of energy and effort to look outside yourself and celebrate others! It's not an easy thing to learn let alone live it out day by day! Unfortunately, being in the age of social media, it's seems to be all we do! We are all in this "pleasant" pressure-filled comparison seeping culture, unequipped to handle it well. Either we ignore it, embrace it, or it can affect us in ways we never wanted it to, taking us to depths we never wanted to be. While this is easier to access now, comparison has always been around, and has always been trying to steal our joy. That's why we have sayings like "keeping up with the Jones', or "the grass is greener." You never know what you have until it's gone, and everyone around us seems to be happier, more successful, better looking, more talented, fill-in-the-blank! It leaves us feeling empty, lonely, and inadequate when that is the furthest thing from the truth!
Comparison has a way of blinding us to our own "picture perfect" moments. The feelings of joy we share with our family, our loved ones, or even daily wins that we may not recognize or maybe even minimize when compared to others. Staying grounded, loving others well, and taking time to be grateful make enormous impacts on keeping the comparison at bay and the joy bounding! Want to know a secret? I have had not one, not two, not three, but MANY clients email me after a family session; RAVING about how they can't believe the photos! Not because it's the most amazing photo, or that I did anything particularly skillful, but because when they looked at it, they felt the joy and the love they have for their family. The pictures gave them an accurate representation and let them see outside of themselves the love that exists between them. While they were so worried about fixing everyone's outfits, rubbing the smudges off little faces, and trying to inspire smiles, they had no idea what just existed, and that the camera could capture it! Families who ended their session, and quietly whispered to each other, "Well, at least we tried." or said to me, "Not sure if you even got one thing you could work with" had over 70 beautiful, joy-filled pictures that they could look back on and keep for a lifetime in 15- 20 minutes of our session! Let me tell you, beauty and joy are present!!! It's up to us to recognize that it's there. This among many others is a reason why I am obsessed with being a photographer. If I can just show one family, on person, how beautiful they are and how the world interprets them and their stories shrouded in light and beauty, then, it's worth it to me. Everyone has so much worth and value because we were all made unique, beautiful and gifted with our own set of skills and talents that we are meant to share! If we are so worried about how we measure up compared to others, no one gets to experience the wonder that is you.
Also, photography is meant to be an art. Yes, the pictures are going to look polished and pretty, but it doesn't mean that emotions or feelings in that picture are insincere. We do our best to pick our favorite outfits, and tame our crazy hair and brush our children's teeth, so we all shine and emanate perfection, but perfection is an illusion, and really the part that makes a picture so perfect, is the feelings and emotions it evokes for the people in it, and those who are celebrating with them.
So next time you see a picture, and comparison comes knocking; tell them to take a hike! Have grace for yourself, and know that even though this is a shining moment, full of joy and love; everyone experiences a full plate of emotions and seasons. Maybe that grace and love can be one more thing bringing us all together in a world that feels so divisive and lost in social highlight reels! Here's to more JOY!
Thoughts from your humble photographer