Chapter 1, Task 1
In Progress

Task 33 – Troublesome comparison

Task 33

Comparison gone awry

The Camera Cure - Task 33
At the seminar at Longyearbyen in Svalbard, participants included nature photographers who are used to photographing polar bears – but this was beyond Catherine’s realm of experience. Instead, she used what she had available in terms of materials and ingenuity to photograph a polar bear in her own way. Choosing a combination of a gingerbread cookie form, water and a freezer is an example of utilizing your resources! What resources do you have available? “I signed up for the photo club to get out a little after a long illness. Going on a hike in itself is not that interesting for me but doing it with a camera is much more interesting. You get to look at the world with a slightly different perspective and don’t focus so much on yourself, and your own pain.”
Longyearbyen, Norway, 2016. Photo: Catherine Linn Fjeldstad


Comparing yourself to others

Avoiding comparing oneself to others is a central to The Camera Cure®. Doing this is exhau- sting. Although, we have been designed to do it by nature. And the more we compare our rough, insecure image with the refined and artificial façade of others, the more we are filled with the stress hormone cortisol. Whereas in a previous age people compared themselves with others in the local community, today we compare ourselves, via the media, to people all over the world. We are almost doomed to fail.

Social comparison is an innate instinct. As mammals we automatically react by producing cortisol when we see someone who is higher up the social ladder than we are. However, when we ourselves are in a higher position, the happy hormone serotonin is released.

Our ancestors were good at evaluating their status in a hierarchy. The explanation for this is two-fold. Those who correctly evaluated themselves as being strong, won without a fight and got better access to food and partners. However, on the other hand, those that consid- ered themselves to be inferior and withdrew from conflicts survived more often than those who went into battle. They ended up having less food and access to sex, but still had more than those who had been killed. Life-threatening duels occurred when adversaries evaluated themselves as being equal.

The fact that we as mammals have an acute ability to focus on our status is clearly evident in our society. The media focuses almost exclusively on who is on their way up or down. Intel- lectually, we can say that we have risen above this, but it’s something our primitive part of the brain cares very little about. This is something we have to live with, accept and deal with. It hurts to see others assert themselves better than we do, but as long as we can think about this as a vestige of evolution then it is easier to shrug our shoulders and smile about it.

There will always be someone that gets a bigger piece of the pie than we do – someone who is better looking, wealthier or is having a better time. We need to stop focusing on this even if our brains forces us to. If we are going to compare ourselves to anyone, it must be with ourselves, such as who we were yesterday, last week or five years ago. This is a comparison that we can, and should, win. As we stop comparing ourselves to others, we can win. Because even if the results of our efforts will vary greatly, both in life and in pictures, the joy of living and photographing is available to us all.

How relevant is this issue for you on a scale of 1 to 6?


Comparing yourself with yourself

In The Camera Cure® you get to be yourself, but not necessarily the person you are used to being. For me, it is important to help you to become the person you can be.

Photography is often a competitive activity. In online photo competitions you can send in pictures and get recognition and rewards. For people with a competitive drive this can be very rewarding. This is natural, our nervous system is geared to this. Dopamine drives our desire to participate hoping for a good result. If we get a prize or honorable mention, seroto- nin rushes. As we share the good result on social media; oxytocin. But if our pictures go unno- ticed, others succeeds better, we feel the cortisol sting. Our nervous system rewards efforts, it is not made for making us happy. If happiness is what we seek, we are better off focusing on the joy and satisfaction of taking pictures in itself. The solution is to quit comparing ourselves to others and focus on our own game.

Now you are a little over halfway through The Camera Cure®. Have you become a better photographer than you were when you completed the first task? Have you learned from any bad experiences? Have you managed to accept being frustrated? No matter how satisfied you happen to be with the results, you have taken a good number of photos that no one else could have taken and seen things that you alone have experienced. You are on your way and who you will become during this journey is the most important thing here. We have to learn to enjoy what we have even if others appear to be doing better. Find your way, and find your voice! We are all geniuses, according to the original, Greek meaning of the word. The word genius refers to the spirit that was present when you were born that ensured you were unique.


What is special about the photos you have taken so far? Is there an area, or a subject, that is all your own? Can you return there, to the same person or the same place? Maybe the pictures will be even better now?

On a scale of 1 to 6, how useful was this task for you?:

BOOK SUGGESTION: 12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson

Be yourself; everyone else is taken!

Oscar Wilde

There is only one of you in all of time. Your expression is unique. It is not your business to determine how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours.

Martha Graham

I believe that each of us have a unique voice. We do not need to develop it, rather, we need to discover, or perhaps better, uncover it.

Julia Cameron