Hey friend! We photographers have to stick together and raise each other up in this industry. We are artists and comrades and connected spirits, sharing our love for freezing time behind our lenses and holding onto memories we love. I believe that we photographers love taking pictures because we love life so much, that we have to freeze it. We have to stop the moment so we can remember and reminisce. We are such nostalgics afterall!
I once received a message asking how I was able to be so confident with photography and my business when I had just started out. But let’s be real – I may have acted confident but don’t let that smile fool ya! To this day, I still get a wave of this so-called “Imposter Syndrome” before every. single. shoot. I get butterflies in my stomach before every session, and I often start wondering: who do I think I am to charge this much money for photographs? I sometimes felt like I was not worthy of calling myself a photographer. There are more and more photographers starting businesses every year. Why was I just starting now? Look, I know it seems like those who who have been in the game longer are crazy confident, but every photographer (especially female photographers – but that’s a whole other blog post on anxiety/psychology!) deal with their own insecurities. To think that we all have everything put together is utter nonsense!
But I look back at my first year of photography – those 20 free sessions before I took a big leap of faith and booked my first actual clients. I feel so proud of that 20 year old girl with her used dSLR and new business license. Do you know what I was doing, friend? I was faking it till I made it. I remember walking to one of my first family sessions on the Upper East Side in Central Park feeling so discouraged, thinking how unworthy I was to think I could actually run my own business. I was so nervous going to that session, that I asked my intuition for guidance. I took a deep breath, looked up and saw a Lulu Lemon store. In the window was a giant sign: “Fake it till you make it.”
Since that morning, I did just that.
I dedicated myself every day to the business and art of photography. I became obsessed with marketing, human psychology, and Photoshop. Before every session, I would consciously tell myself, “you are worthy. you are enough. You’ve got this, girl.” Self talk is powerful, friends. When you’ve told yourself something so many times, eventually your mind catches up to you. People sense authenticity. And when you tell yourself and believe that you are worthy of photographing someone – of earning money for those photographs – other people will follow suit.
Here are a few tips to help gain some confidence as a photographer….
- It’s time to find your inner artist – and call off social media and the internet! Yep – you heard me right. When you aren’t sure of your photography style, vision or even who the people you want to serve are, take a month off and focus inward. Focus on you. Ignore the other talented photographers, artists, visionaries, and bloggers who have their own unique visions. It’s great to find inspiration and look up to other photographers that made it, but it’s important to stay authentically you. Being true to you will bring you more success at the end of the day!
- Treat your path as an artistic experimentation. Throw all the paint on that canvas as you can! Make a mess and notice what sticks out to you. What is calling to you. Don’t rush through the journey – take it one step at a time. Slow and steady wins the race, and you don’t want to face sudden burnout like a lot of photographers and small business owners do.
- One step at a time. Tackle each goal individually, step by step. Let’s say you just bought your first camera. Everyone’s process of learning is different, so pick what you wnat to focus on first! For me, I started out reading the dSLR manual cover to cover. I practiced learning on my camera every day, messing with the dials and buttons until I felt confident with how the little machine worked. I then tackled the exposure triangle – mastering the balance of ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture. When I felt confident with the technical aspects of photography, I focused on light, and then style. I practiced photographing people and learned how to capture moments of connection. The last part I learned was editing. When you divide everything into manageable parts, you will be far less overwhelmed!
- Make sure to only surround yourself with friends who support your dreams. Follow the mentors who allow you to be freely you in your style and vision. Be cautious of what you are consuming socially. (and that includes media!) If you express your dreams to a family member or friend that doesn’t support your dream, stop talking about it. Just walk away. Guard your heart and those deepest hopes, and hold tightly to those dreams of your intuition.
- How about instead of calling yourself a photographer or business owner or painter, etc – you simply call yourself an artist? Call yourself a creative. With art, there is always plenty of room to grow and expand. As artists, we are constantly pivoting and passionately pursuing several things at once, and lets not forgot that this Universe is constantly E-X-P-A-N-D-I-N-G (it’s been scientifically proven!). Put the labels and titles on hold for now. There will plenty of time to add those labels later on your journey.
- Pay close attention to the thoughts and beliefs you’re feeding yourself. You are what you tell yourself, and people will sense that. Trust that with practice, time and positive self-talk, you will improve. And don’t put a deadline on it! You’ve got this.
Alright, friend – it’s time to take these tips and put ’em to action! Finding confidence as a self-employed artist seems daunting, but it’s the most important quality and lesson you can learn as a photographer. When you believe you are worthy and talented enough, everything else always seems to magically fall into place. 🙂
P.S. Share this post with any of your pals who are new to photography or art or who are taking a leap of faith into business and send some confidence their way!