I believe photographer self-doubt can cripple many of us. It’s always there, in the back of our minds.
Am I good enough?
Should I really call myself a photographer?
Will anyone even hire me?
Should I even charge for my work?
Will this session go ok?
Will I be able to handle the lighting, the people, the posing?
My work doesn’t even compare to so-and-so’s.
The negative chatter surrounding our photographic work can be endless… The good news is the solutions can be too!
Keep honing your skills until the photographer self doubt is gone.
This step will be a process. It will require a lot of work. This means you need to know the technical aspects of photography. You will need to be prepared to shoot in open sun. That you can nail the shot as the sun is setting with or without haze, that you are comfortable nailing the focus most of the time. It also means you have an editing style and that you are fairly consistent in showing that style across the board. Another area is posing. Try to have a few go-to poses that you know work, and branch out from there.
I recommend finding friends and family to practice on; hold mini sessions. Practice until the scenarios are all achieved without issue. Use these to see what you could have done better. Edit them and see if you can have a consistent look throughout the gallery. You will get more comfortable, and with that, gain confidence.
Take Time and Tackle the Problems One at a Time
Take a few minutes to write down a list of specific things you feel most insecure about. Then take the time to write actions you can do to improve that area.
Do you feel your skin tones don’t look great? Spend some time researching and learning to improve them.
Do you get stuck when it comes to posing families? Spend time on Pinterest and find some favorites that work for you; put them on your phone and refer to them prior to your session.
Having a hard time wondering how to price your packages? Search for articles or books to help you decide, do local market research too.
Often if you break these items out into LITTLE do-able projects, you will find your answers and feel less anxiety.
Find a Photographer Friend
It could be a local person, on a social media forum, on Facebook. It could be someone at a similar point in his or her journey, or maybe even someone more advanced who is willing to help and provide mentorship. Find someone in your field to give you real opinions on your work, or suggestions to help your business. Having a comrade in a similar situation will help you not feel alone in your work or business decisions and therefore give you extra confidence that your choices are valid.
Embrace the Compliments
LISTEN TO THEM!!!!! It’s easy just to brush them off. But really take time to hear what people are saying.
If you are picking up a camera, it is because you like it, and likely have a gift. You may not feel your photography skills are up to par in all areas, but perhaps your ability to capture a personality is stellar, you have an eye for composition, you excel and preserving a connection between people.
If someone is telling you they LOVE your work, smile, say “thank you”, and store that compliment for one of those self-doubt extra hard days.
Also, remember, it’s ok if not everyone loves your work; you will find that same issue in all forms of artwork. Don’t sweat it. You really only have to worry if you and your client are happy with it. And your client chose YOU for a reason!
Remember it’s a Process
Finally, just like everything in life, we are on a journey. Overcoming self doubt doesn’t happen overnight.
We are ever-changing, and always improving. Remember, you are still a photographer today. You’ll be a better one next session, and next month, if you work hard. Embrace where you started, where you are, and where you will be. No photographer that you are admiring today started where they are now.
I don’t think we can ever completely rid ourselves of all of the self doubt, but I do believe that by increasing our knowledge, leaning on a friend, hearing the positives, and tackling the items weighing on our mind, we can really put the self doubt in a manageable place instead of letting it hold us back! Good Luck!