How to Overcome Disappointment in Our Photography

Dear friend,

I don’t know about you—but I’m prone to disappointment in my photography and life.

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I feel disappointed often


I think for myself — I am addicted to a sense of progress. I also set high expectations for myself.

Whenever I don’t reach my expectations, I feel disappointment.

Why do we feel disappointment in our photography?

Now, why do we feel disappointment in photography? Some ideas:

  1. Feeling stuck: like your photography is not progressing according to your own expectations.
  2. Envy: feeling disappointed because you see your peers, or others “succeeding” more than you.
  3. Feeling frustrated: not being able to create photographs you visualize in your mind’s eye.

So what is the solution?

1. How to get unstuck

Abstract man with arm. Marseille, 2017

So progress is all relative. We compare ourselves with our past selves.

I say -let’s do a hard reset. Let’s empty our minds, and empty our memories of the past.

Every day is a clean, new slate.

Cindy with hand on head. Marseille, 2017

One thing I like to do on my computer is to regularly clear my cache, and clean my browser history, and clean my download folder. I try to do this every day —which means every new day, I have a fresh start.

Cindy drinking coffee, low angle. Red table. Marseille, 2017

Having a fresh start is refreshing and encouraging. It means you’re not stuck to your old expectations of yourself. Rather, every day you treat your photography with the same enthusiasm you had when you were a beginner.

2. Envy

I’m prone to envy my peers. I see others who I perceive are “succeeding” more than myself, by either getting more prestigious awards, more prestigious book deals, exhibitions, having more followers than me, making more money than me, or traveling and doing more interesting things than myself.

The solution? To be genuinely happy for them —but also to realize that in reality —your situation is probably better than theirs.

Red and white selfie. Marseille, 2017

For example, if someone else is traveling the world, and doing all this exotic photography — they probably miss their family or loved ones. If we’re stuck at home, we should reshape our perception —we should count our blessing of being at home — after all, Ulysses wandered the seas for over a decade to achieve his dream (going back to his home, Ithaca). The concept of being a world traveler and living an exotic life is a pretty new concept —almost all the ancient Greeks preferred growing old in their own home country and city.

Hand and selfie shadow. Blue and red. Marseille, 2017

Also, realize — everything has a price. If you want to gain prestige, and gain all these prizes and awards, you need to spend a lot of time making the right connections, networking, sucking up, etc. I feel that almost all of us can achieve this —if we’re willing to devote the time and energy to do so.

Callisto, our cat. Marseille. 2017

Therefore, realize that everyone who achieves much in life, sacrifices much. So in a sense, we should tip our hat to them, for their hard work, dedication, and hustle. Don’t just think they “got lucky”— no, they worked hard for what they desired.

So rather than feeling envy, just ask ourselves —would we sacrifice that much to achieve what our peers do? If so, we should complain less, and just do it.

3. Feeling frustrated

Also, I don’t think we should compare our photography to anyone else. After all, all of us have our own unique vision and pair of eyes.

Even physically—some of us are color blind. Personally, I have astigmatism —which I’m sure affects my vision somehow. Some of us are taller —and thus perceive the word from a different perspective.

My formula for avoiding frustration:

No expectations for your photography. Put in a lot of work, and hustle hard, but don’t be disappointed if your effort doesn’t pay off.

Also, to achieve your artistic vision, you need to know how to create images that you have in your mind’s eye. That means, perhaps learning the right technical settings for your camera, or knowing how to process your photos.

Cindy with blue candle over face. Marseille, 2017

One idea: devote yourself to one camera, one lens, and one processing style for an entire year. By devoting yourself to consistent gear, you will be able to better create images you want to. If we are always switching our gear, we will never be able to master our equipment, and thus, we will be unable to master our creative vision.

You’re on the right path.

To conclude,

Let’s always count our blessings. Spend less time on social media, to compare ourself less with others. I deleted my Instagram, and now —I feel a lot less envy and jealousy. I stay focused and centered in myself, and I try my best to feel genuine happiness for my friends who I perceive are succeeding “more” than me.

It’s also a reminder — memento mori. I’m gonna die one day, and probably sooner than later. Therefore, for me to focus living a meaningful life —empowering others, and empowering myself.

Treating every day like a blessing. To take my photography less seriously, and having more fun, and shooting more with a childlike spirit of experimentation.

So friend, smile, and have faith in yourself that you’re (already) on the right path.


Conquer your fears and meet new peers:

Newest visualization: Zen of Eric, on Life, Photography, Art, and Work

For a limited time, download the following FREE visualizations designed by Annette Kim. Keep these guides on your phone, tablet, computer to read on your commute, as reminders when shooting on the streets, and for daily inspiration.


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