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How to Overcome Photo Envy and Become a Better Photographer


You’ve got a goal to become a better photographer. Along the way, you’re going to have to confront your weaknesses. Photo envy is one of the greatest weaknesses a photographer can face because it is a weakness that hurts other people.

If you regularly feel jealous when you see another photographer’s good photos then you probably suffer from photo envy.

Photo envy will make you bitter and pessimistic. When envy takes root, it leaves you feeling inferior and resentful at other people’s success.

I’ll show you how to overcome photo envy so that you can get on with becoming a great photographer.

overcome photo envy

The one time I forget all about photo envy at a photo session. That’s because my only concern is for my subject.

How do you know for sure that you have photo envy?

Admiring another photographer’s work and aspiring to be as good as them is not envy. It’s natural to be captivated and inspired by other people who are better than you.

You’ll know photo envy by its tell-tale effect on your emotions.

The test is simple: if you take an immediate emotional turn for the worst when you see other people’s good photography, then you suffer from photo envy.

You probably first noticed your photo envy while scrolling through social media. A really good photo posted by a friend or another photographer took you by surprise. You felt a terrible sinking feeling in your gut and chest. You’re jealous.

Perhaps you regularly have beaten up by thoughts of inferiority, or even felt hopeless or like crying? You wonder how they can be so skilled, and why they’re getting all the attention. You think, “when will I finally get noticed.” What does it take?

The stakes

You’ll be tempted to think that simply becoming a better photographer or getting more business is the solution to your photo envy. But it’s not.

Envy is a weakness within yourself and the only way to cure it is to face it directly. And you must overcome photo envy before you become a good photographer.

If you don’t overcome envy before you become a better photographer, you’ll simply become a good photographer with a harmful weakness. You’ll naturally take out your resentment on other photographers, not to mention your friends and family.

overcome photo envy

Even though I don’t think about photo envy during a session, I know the next time I’m on social media, I’ll see a photographer’s amazing photos and feel envious again. So I employ my regular tactics to defeat photo envy.


How do you overcome photo envy?

You don’t have to be jealous, inferior and resentful forever. Follow this plan, and you will overcome photo envy.

Envy is something that needs to be overcome in the moment. Remember, you’re good at spotting moments as a photographer!

Here is how to overcome photo envy.

The very second you feel envious of somebody’s photography, stop what you’re doing. Stop scrolling, stop clicking and stop thinking about yourself. Now get ready because you’re about to tell the photographer how much you love their photos.

Whether you’re envious of a friend or a competitor, you need to send them a personal message immediately. Do not put it off for later. Simply send them a message letting them know how much you enjoy their photos. After all, the reason you’re envious is that they’re so good.

If you’re not sure what to say then try something like this:

Hi there, I just wanted to tell you how amazing I think your photography is! Your images never fail to wow me. How long have you been into photography?

Overcoming photo envy is that simple.

overcome photo envy

I know that becoming a more skilled photographer isn’t enough to deal with my photo envy. Becoming a better photographer out of spite isn’t a good game plan.

Be a better person and a better photographer

Why does this method work so well? Because you’re retraining yourself to be a good person. Envy has become automatic when your response should have been admiration and encouragement.

When you tell the person how much you love their photography you will notice the feeling of envy leave your body and good feelings will flow in to replace it. Just wait until they write back and compliment you.

Every time you’re scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc and you feel envious, send a personal note right away telling them how much you like their photography. Pretty soon you’ll be an encouraging person rather than an envious one.

But you can take all this a step further.

overcome photo envy

With my photo envy under control, I’m free to pursue my goal of becoming a better photographer. When I go to a session, I have a toolbox of creative elements that I use. I’ve memorized them so I don’t have to overthink it. I can focus on my subject and know that I’ll get home with some good photos.

Lead the locker room

Telling the person (especially competitors) how much you love their photography is the key to overcome photo envy.

But you can do better than “not be envious.” You can become a generous leader among photographers.

overcome photo envy

Backlight is one of my favorite creative ingredients.

Let’s think about a locker room for a moment. You likely experienced a locker room or a change room in high school, so you know what a humiliating experience it can be. Inferiority and envy can run wild and then spill out beyond the locker room.

If you follow sports, then you hear about the rivalries in the locker room and how it can bring the whole team down.

But when somebody steps up to lead the locker room in a good direction, everything changes. When somebody is an encourager and a problem solver, then envy and rivalry burn out. If anyone chooses to remain miserable and envious, they quickly lose their place in the locker room, they’re ignored until they’re just gone.

overcome photo envy

I always look for some interesting gesture in the moment.

Now let’s get back to the world you’re a part of. Would you like to be an important part of your photography community rather than just sitting home and feeling jealous about how everyone else is doing? Then step up and lead the locker room.

Be the encourager in online forums and Facebook groups. Start an in-person group to help new photographers or unite photographers that act like competitors.

I don’t mean that you have to be a traditional leader. You just need to bring order to the chaos. Pump out positive energy and watch it chase envy and rivalry away. A simple compliment from you might be what helps another photographer overcome their photo envy.

By this point, there isn’t a shred of envy left in you. You are happy to see others do well. In fact, you even start making others look good.

overcome photo envy

Lower angles make everything look more dramatic.

Make another photographer look good

Be a shameless promoter of others. Look for good photographers and share them with the world.

It could be as simple as showcasing them through a guest post on your blog or social media.

But how can you make your competition look good and expect anyone to remember you? You simply have to trust that when you make others look good you will not be forgotten.

Envy can’t touch you when you do this.

overcome photo envy

Along with backlight and low angles, I love a photograph with texture. This helps your photo to pop.

Up your game every step of the way

We’ve almost forgotten about your real goal, which is to become a great photographer. That’s actually the easy part! You figure out what you wish you could do and learn it!

Find an ebook, course, or mentor who can show you. Learn, practice, refine, celebrate.

I used to be jealous of photographers who had beautiful light in their photos. I had no idea how to achieve that look and didn’t know what to do about it. Eventually, I had an opportunity to learn the skills I was surprised to see that there was no magic involved; all I had to do is learn.

overcome photo envy

When possible, look for a frame within a frame.

You’re on a journey of becoming a better photographer, but pay attention to who you become along the way. Becoming a better photographer will not make you less envious. You can let photo envy take root and bring you down. Or, you can overcome photo envy by being an encouragement to others. Lead the locker room and make a lot of other photographers look good.

Whenever you feel a twinge of jealousy, get in touch with that photographer and tell them how great their photos are. This is how you overcome photo envy.

Do you have any other tips to overcome photo envy? If so, share them with us in the comments!

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Mat Coker
Mat Coker

is a family photographer from Ontario, Canada. He teaches photography to parents and families, showing them how to document their life and adventures. You can get his free photography ebook, and learn more about taking creative photos.