In photography, and life in general, I have only recently come to appreciate the word better. It took a couple of years and each day after that to go from better than others to better than you were yesterday. I find that the former sends you into a downward spiral of envy that eventually leads you to a point where you lose yourself. The latter, on the other hand, does not only allow you the opportunity to discover yourself, but ultimately leads you to a place of fulfillment and contentment.
In the context of photography, this means that when I look at the pictures that I make today they are viewed within the framework of the pictures that I made before them. Of course, I am not discounting the constructive critique that you get from those who have come before me. However, I no longer think whether my picture of a sunrise is better or worse than someone else’s, but if it is objectively better than the last sunrise I shot. This doesn’t only make me more appreciative of my own work, but that of others as well.
In the context of our marriage, my wife and I can look at ourselves from the very same perspective. She used to hate waking up early, but she is now able to muster the
superhuman effort that it takes to unglue herself from our bed, and all to accompany me on early morning sojourns to catch the sunrise (like in the picture above) or go on a photowalk. On my end, I now find myself traveling more often, even though it’s something that used to be well out of the boundaries of the comfortable cocoon that I had built for myself. Our time together has made us better people. If there’s one standard to hold any relationship to, I believe it should be that.
It’s not always easy to resist the temptation of reverting to the old habit of comparing oneself to others. There will always be struggle, but I believe that’s how one builds character. And at the end of the day, the question that we need to answer is just this — Am I a better person today than I was the day before?