A blog post popped up on my Facebook feed last week about Fauxtographers and how everyone starts in a position of being a copycat photographer – simply copying everything that they see others doing until eventually they develop their own authentic style and graduate to the level where they become professionals. I think it is a fairly common thing for my generation to want to be seen as original, unique and creative. But the more I see of other people’s photography, websites, Instagram feeds and Facebook pages, the more I struggle to see any major difference between (most of) them. Yet, despite not wanting to be one of the same, I often find myself trying to keep up, wanting so badly to feel validated by seeing my work reach the point where it has that look (you know, the Pinterest perfect look).
I spent some time last week cleaning up my Facebook page, updating my website and posting to my blog. I was feeling like I was getting a lot done until I slipped back into a bad habit. The habit of comparing. It always starts innocently enough, usually when I am mindlessly scrolling through social media, and then BOOM out of nowhere it happens. I find myself staring at someone’s post or feed, drooling over their gear, obsessing about the way they post perfect photos every time and desperate to know how they get their Facebook photos to not look blurry when they are actually sharp. I start to hear little voices in my head telling me to throw in the towel. I mean, I’ll never be that good or be able to afford that camera anyway, so why even try? Even my prices must make people think that I’m just starting out… that I’m a fauxtographer. I start to panic before I post any of my photo work on Facebook or Instagram because I am terrified that it will “destroy my brand” or show some weakness if every photo doesn’t look like it belongs with all the others. I spend hours writing blog posts that sit in a growing list of saved drafts because I’m afraid of what people will think of me when I hit publish (even this post has been sitting here for more than 48 hours). I keep re-writing my website’About Me’ section over and over, trying to give it all the right verbiage only to find that it doesn’t sound like me at all and that I have to start over from the beginning. It’s dizzying. overwhelming, suffocating and it keeps happening.
“Who are you in Christ and how does that define who you are as a photographer?”
A sweet friend texted me that question after I had spent some time talking to her about how I was ruining my brand and chasing after a identity that didn’t seem to exist. As I read that question again I began to see that I had slipped into viewing photography in a backwards way. I had started to listen to the people I follow on social media, the YouTubers who seem to have it figured out and the lies in my head more than the truth about who I am in Christ. I can tell myself that I want to use my camera as a ministry tool and then turn around and try to use it for my own glory every single day of the week. I can say “I’m happy for their success,” while tearing myself down and holding out jealous hope that someday I’ll be better than them.
When I make my photography goals the ultimate end, it begins to define me in ways that are truly ugly. On the other hand, when I see the glory of God as the ultimate end, photography becomes the refreshing gift that it was to me in the very beginning. I don’t want to be seen as a fake photographer… but more than that, I don’t want to be a fake Christian. If I am so consumed with what other people think of me that I can’t be real about my life and what God is teaching me, then I will end up living a lie. I’m beginning to realize that God gave photography to me as a way of teaching me to trust Him, not as a means of building my own kingdom, collecting praise, or obtaining perfection.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
This is who I am in Christ and this is what I want to define who I am as a photographer.
Part 1 – the definition of me series