Join Me in the "Comparison Kills Creativity" Campaign

director_handsWhere do you get your inspiration and motivation for the work you do? If you’re like many artists, chances are you are inspired by others in your industry whose work you admire. There’s a certain level of geek-like admiration that comes over you when you see a particular cinematic shot executed in a way you’ve never seen before. Or a photograph that is composed and processed in a way that screams “MAVERICK!” Sometimes these people are colleagues. Sometimes competitors. Other times they’re superstars in the industry who seem to be in a world and class all their own.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with gaining knowledge and inspiration from such people. Especially if you’re committed to putting your own spin on things. But, there’s a dangerous side to this business of external inspiration. You can find yourself in a situation where instead of being inspired, you start comparing yourself to the person(s) whose work you admire. Your self-esteem starts getting tied up in places it has no place going. Or, you get lazy. Instead of coming up with a new widget, you just make the same widget of the guy down the street. I too am often guilty of becoming just a little too over-zealous about admiring the works of my fellow filmmakers. Well, it’s time for all of that to stop now!…At least for a month.

I’ve decided that for one month I will refrain from watching the videos of anyone who I consider a potential competitor. I’m calling it the “Comparison Kills Creativity Campaign.” It’s purpose, to rejuvenate the spirit and get your creative juices flowing as never before.

Here are the rules:

  • For at least one month, do not look at the work of anyone who does the same kind of work you do. If you shoot weddings, don’t look at ANY wedding photographers/videographers work. If you shoot commercial, don’t look at anyone’s commercial work. etc. (You can get a pardon if you’re going to seminar like Skip’s Summer School or something where others work will be shown.)
  • Proactively seek out NEW sources of inspiration. Television, movies, IFC, and magazines are great places. Here’s a kick, why not get inspiration from nature. God’s created such amazing beauty all around you. Look at it!
  • Try something new every week. A shot you’ve never tried. A short film about your daughter. An experimental video. Go crazy!
  • Journal about your experience. You can write it in a physical journal. Or share your experience on the Facebook group wall. Or comment here. Blog about your experiences. But keep track so you can go back and see how you’re progressing.

You’re going to be on the honor system, so no cheating. Your month can start whenever you like. But, since tomorrow is August 1, why not start tomorrow. I am. After one month, look back over your own work to see how it’s grown. And, if you’re game, keep it up the “fast” from other watching competitors’ work.

Here’s a link to the Facebook group I created for it. Let’s have fun with this. Get your friends involved.

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20 thoughts on “Join Me in the "Comparison Kills Creativity" Campaign

  1. Ron, this is a great idea! As you’re well aware, talents in the wedding industry are getting blurred. I think this will be a great shot in the arm as far as talent and creativity goes. Great post!

  2. Fantastic post, Ron. We sometimes get stuck in *just* looking at our peers (or those we perceive as competition). Creativity and inspiration are fluid feed off of a number of sources. I always try to mix up the visual stimulus in my life. Look everywhere. Paintings, sculpture, movies, comics,industrial design. And of course, just do the work!

  3. Thanks for this Ron. Seberal of us were talking last weekend about comparing our work to others and how it made us feel. We made the decision to use it for inspiration at best, and not for comparison sake, as many of us our still fairly green. The comparisons can often times make us depressed, and spiral further down the self worth hole.

    Thanks,
    and I will help spread the word!

  4. I’d suggest as an added challenge (Jeffery mentioned something similar above):

    Use a media other than photography, such as painting, to get inspired. Use a different time period. Study the light in the paintings of Raphael or Caravaggio.

    Or for the most adventurous: ditch your visual sense completely! Listen to a new genre of music, try food you’ve never tried, do things you’ve never done because you were too scared before. Experience life away from photography. The muses are elusive; search diligently for them in everything, not just other photographs.

  5. Great ideas guys. I’d like to see some of my filmmaker/videographer colleagues take inspiration from paintings and try to translate it to moving pictures.

  6. We’ve already talked about how I feel about this – I completely agree with you! I think this is a fantastic idea!

    One problem … relaunching a wedding site this week, I have to look at other people’s work. I do it though with the mindset of not copying it though. Does that count?

    Hope to see you at Summer School! Or next time I’m in ATL!

  7. @christine – don’t see how launching a new site requires you to look at other’s work. Youze got some splainin’ to do with that one. :)

  8. Ron, this is a great post. I hope people take up your challenge. With very few exceptions (offering critiques to colleagues, etc) I haven’t looked at other’s wedding photography in over a year, and it’s been great.

  9. @meg – First, thanks for joining the challenge. Watching FilmFellas does not count as cheating. Not unless you’re a producer of online webisodic shows like FilmFellas. If you’re a wedding videographer, watching other wedding videographers talk about wedding videography is allowed. :)

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