It happens to all of us at some time or another.
We feel somehow lacking as a photographer, that we aren't creative enough, or our images are boring, or that we will never be in the same league as the "big guys" we admire. In short, our confidence is in short supply .
And in response you will have heard the same stuff as me, about how "there is only one you" and "no-one else sees the world quite like you" and how you should "embrace your unique perspective!"
Now, don't get get me wrong, all of that is definitely 100% true, and we SHOULD keep that in mind, but for me, I need something a little more practical than simply being told I shouldn't feel that way 😃
So that's what I am here with today - some practical advice for building your confidence as a photographer.
If that sounds like something you could do with, keep on a readin'....
#1 Learn your craft!
I cannot stress enough just how much confidence you can get as a photographer, simply by knowing your craft inside out.
If you're not 100% sure on what settings you should be using, or you feel uncertainty about where you should place our subject with regard to the light, or you worry that all your images are going to be soft (or indeed any of the other bajillion things we need to have in our head when we take a photo) then you're simply not going to feel confident.
What's more, that lack of confidence shows through in what you do, because it's hard to feel creative when you're still having to worry about the technical side, and it's hard to get out there and market yourself strongly enough when you don't have the confidence in yourself.
All of these things works together to leave you feeling unconvinced of your own worth as a photographer, because your lack of knowledge is screaming at you that you need to step up your game.
My advice is to make learning and education your number one priority. .
I can you that for the first three or four years of my own photography journey, I had a lot of knowledge on photography picked up from the internet, but I still couldn't always get the shot I saw in my head. I finally caved and took a course on photography, and when I did, I got all those little nuggets of wisdom that helped all the random information come together and make sense. That's when I started to be able to take the images I saw in my head, and from that point on, my confidence just soared.
When you truly understand what you are doing, you will have the power to take any image your little heart desires, and trust me - this leads to you feeling a LOT more comfortable and confident.
(And in fact, if you want to fast-track it, check out Auto to Awesome and fast track your learning!
#2 Practice and improve your weak points.
Many of us (myself included) can be guilty of being armchair photographers - we read about it, we take part in community conversations, have a gander on Pinterest, or buy an ebook from our fave photographer - but what we don't do is actually get out there with our camera and practice.
Try to make time to regularly practice your craft, but - and this is the thing I REALLY want you to bear in mind - rather than just randomly getting out your camera and shooting, try to set yourself goals of what you need to improve on, and then work toward achieving them.
(You can read this step by step guide to planning your photography goals if you need a little help with this!)
This may tie back in with point #1 - because there is absolutely no point practising the WRONG thing. (the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results!)
I've lost count how many times I have heard something along the lines of "My photos aren't sharp at all, and I have no idea what I am doing wrong, but if I just keep practising, I'm sure I'll get better!!" or "I don't know how to edit my photos, but I'll definitely get there if I just keep at it!"
No, no, no, no.
The best way to get better, and therefore more confident, is to first learn WHAT you need to do, and THEN practise. Practise on it's own without proper knowledge is not going to leap you forward.
When you combine knowing your craft, with having done it all loads of times before, you will start to feel a LOT more positive.
Plus having that knowledge and experience will allow your creativity to soar, which in turn gives you even more confidence!
#3 Surround yourself with a great community.
Another great way to improve your confidence as a photographer is to get support from a community that you feel welcome and safe in.
That way you've a place where you can ask questions, request feedback on your photos, get inspiration from other photographers, GIVE constructive criticism and simply get encouragement when you feel a little down.
There's nothing like feeling you have support at your back to help you feel more confident!
However, I do understand that many free communities can be a little.....er.....how can I put this....HARSH for new photographers, and perhaps not as welcoming as they could be. Which can end up having the opposite effect.
That's one reason I created the Live Snap Love community, so there was a place JUST for new and emerging photographers, which felt more friendly rather than scary! You can request to join here if that sounds like a place for you - we'd love to see you in there!
#4 Compare old work to new.
Another way to build your confidence is to see just how far you have come over the months or years - there's nothing like seeing your own improvement to spur you on!
Go back a year, and take a look at your photos from then, and then work your way forwards. You should see a gradual improvement in your photos over time, right to the present day, which gives you the confidence to know that you are on the right track and that your photos are actually MUCH better than you think they are!
I know that every single person who has done a case study for Live Snap Love has said they LOVED the experience, because it allowed them to see their progress, and it invigorated them to move forward onto the NEXT stage of their journey.
One point here - if you are looking back thinking you haven't actually come that far in 12 months, then get back to #1 in this list, pronto.
#5 Embrace mistakes and feedback.
Whenever you make a mistake, think of it as a learning experience, because every single time we muck something up, we learn what NOT to do next time.
The fact is, you will ALWAYS make "mistakes" as a photographer, and I seriously doubt there will ever be a time when we think of our images as perfect. All those people who told you that photography was a journey, not a destination, was absolutely correct!
You can also read 5 mistakes I made as a new photographer, so you can see some common areas, but more importantly, take the steps to fix them!
Going through your own images with a critical eye and seeing your mistakes is a great way to learn to improve.
Another way to do this is by requesting feedback from others.
This can be soooo helpful because it gives you another set of eyes on your image, and because they will be able to come to it fresh, they can simply see things that you just missed, or didn't consider.
If you get feedback that gives you something to work on, either directly (in the form of someone saying "try this next time") or indirectly (you show your photos to someone and they ask for something to be done to the images) try to consider it a learning experience rather than as a criticism. Every single time you get feedback it's an opportunity to improve, so look on it as a positive thing, rather than a negative!
One SUPER IMPORTANT point to note here is that you do not need to heed their advice if you disagree!
If someone gives you feedback, listen to it, consider it, and then decide whether to embrace it or reject it. It is YOUR photo, so just because you get advice, it doesn't mean that you have to take it on board. There can be a thin line between constructive criticism and simply not liking something because it is not your style.
A little note for those of you reading this who are in business: ANY type of feedback is useful.
Even if you don't change how you shoot in response to that feedback, it can change how you describe your work, the website you have, the information you give customers beforehand about what you will and won't do, and even what you charge.
An example of this might be when someone asks you to 'Photoshop" the images you have taken of their child, when you prefer to keep things on the natural side. You are not going to change your style based on that feedback, but perhaps on your website and before hiring you will make it clear that that is not going to happen, saying something like "I won't whiten your childs teeth or edit their eyes - I think children are beautiful as they are....".
Or you may choose to note that you charge extra for certain work, or hand out a style guide to make sure that they don't wear neon (once you have had to edit out color casts on 30 or so images, you never make that mistake again) or just remind them to make sure that their child's nose is snot free and their hair is brushed, and so on.
In short, ask for feedback, listen to it carefully and consider it, but only take on what's helpful and adjust as required.
If you enjoyed this post, please share, either on Pinterest, Facebook or wherever else tickles your fancy - I'd appreciate it!
I'd also LOVE to hear your thoughts on this week's post! Do you feel unconfident as a photographer, or do you have your own methods for dealing with insecurity? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.
(And if you liked the post and want to go one step further, please share! It's a great way to say thank you!)