I'll occasionally get an inbox or email that asks me something to the effect of "Do you think that you are a better than photographer x, y, or z?" and as I start to position my fingers to type a response I know that it's not going to be what the person who asked the question expected.
I've been at this photography thing for a while (graphic and web design even longer but who asked right?). In my early years, yes, I found my value in how I measured up to the shooter next to me. I'd study my uncle's images, then that of local photographers, and then those of icons and, honestly, it left me going to bed feeling pretty empty and worthless. Simply put I was seeing things in their images that I wasn't seeing in my own and what I saw in my own looked nothing like theirs.
I hadn't found my own eyes.
Y'all wouldn't know it but this camera and industry have had a major impact on who I am. It's how I connect to the world. It's how I leave my stamp on it. I've become more comfortable in my own skin through the interactions I've had with many of you and it is because of this camera. It has shown me that everyone is as flawed, insecure, fragile, and concerned about their place in the world as I am and, most importantly, it has shown me that we are beautiful because of those things.
I'm lucky enough to share in people's becoming. I get to see the woman who thought she was "nothing special" decide that she is going to take more images because of what she saw in something that I created. I've seen a guy completely melt away his tough exterior to select an image of himself with the biggest smile because it was the first time that he allowed himself to be photographed happy. Do you know what it's like shooting a single young woman, then shoot her wedding, maternity photos, and images of her child? I do.
So when you ask me if I think I'm "a better photographer than x, y, or z" please understand my response of "I don't care. I've been made into a better person."
PS: Anyone who wants some of this Jay Daniel Photography thang, we want some of you too.