Photography can be interpreted as an actual cosmos of genders, perspectives, uses, concepts, techniques, rules and many other definitions. I mean, it's a vastness of content that one can use to acquire knowledge, develop skills and figure out ways to profit from this field. However, when you first see people making money out of photography, you assume that there is a very necessary standard to be followed and overcome in order to become such a professional. In addition, people in general tend not to call themselves photographers unless they are somehow using a camera to perform a work. In a way, this leads to a kind of vague questioning that could be summarized in these two lines:
What is the point of being a photographer?
What do I need to become one?
If you are in the beginning of the journey to make photography your way of living and spend a good time everyday checking the profiles on Instagram of well succeeded photographers, then you're likely to have at least once asked yourself if this is really your space. You see those gorgeous images with thousands of likes and you start seeing details in those images that in some way tell you how much better you should have taken your own photographs. It is at this point where I found my lack of confidence many times. From here, I moved on to a new level of relation with photography.
As photographers willing to profit from the skills, we surely need to show our work somehow and build an audience, be worthy of spontaneous appreciation. However, if you learn your lesson just like I did, you know that the meaning of photography comes much before this and depends not fully on it. While incorporating concepts and techniques into my work, I began to notice how I imprinted my own artistic and creative expression in my photographs. As I added tons and tons of images in my folders, I started to understand how much of my life I had spent walking a path which didn't show me where I would get, but that made my evolution very clear. With time, I only increased my pleasure of making pics, of exploring new destinations, photographing events.
I personally admire and indeed spend a certain amount of time these days discovering techniques used by other photographers. I sometimes get astonished seeing amazing works done by famous professionals of this artistic language. Nevertheless, I spend greater time and attention studying what I have done. I literally get to another, higher mental state when I open my raw files in Lightroom to post-process them and reach the combination that I want. I keep endlessly arranging short, free photoshoots with friends or doing small trips solely on the purpose of experimenting ideas, subjects, compositions. All that with the excitement of a crazy scientist eager to perfect and release his new invention. And this is what I call love for what you do. When you sincerely engage with the steps towards your goal, with patience and commitment, your production then becomes a reflection of who you are and a proof to yourself of how competent and deep you can be. When you get to this level of love with photography, you give then much value to what you do, you feel very clearly what directions your work must take and how you're gonna do that.
So, it's not about ignoring and refusing by all means what the competition tells you, but it is about being aware of what you are experiencing as a photographer. The more time you spend tuning your skills, the greater will be your sense of confidence with what you do. The consequence is a clarity that allows you to choose comfortably your goal and set for yourself the path you're gonna take to get there.