We don’t talk about it much, but we’ve all been there: the doubt, the discouragement, the hidden, quiet thoughts rooted in the fear that we are not good enough. “Am I good enough to be a photographer?” “Do I have what it takes to be successful?” “Will I ever be as good as _____?”
You are not alone.
Can you keep a secret? Don’t tell anyone, but… I used to quit photography on a semi-regular basis. BUT, then I would wake up in the morning and start again, because I refused to build or lose my business and dream on the foundation of a lie. The lie of not being good enough does nothing but isolate us and stunt our growth… but only if we allow it to. These tips will help you disband the lie of not being good enough, and instead move forward to being the best photographer you can be!
Refuse to play the comparison game. It’s one thing to draw inspiration from another photographer’s work, but we must reject the habit of using someone else as a benchmark for our own value and growth. Most of us have heard this, but if you haven’t, this is one of my favorite quotes:
“The only photographer you should compare yourself to is the one you used to be.”
Look at your own work for signs of personal progress. Regularly examine how far you’ve come, and celebrate that! If you find yourself discouraged by seeing other’s work, rather than inspired, it’s a sure sign you’re letting the lie run your mind. Instead, find a safe place to seek out meaningful feedback and to hone the skills you are needing to grow in.
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Embrace the Rut
It’s normal to find yourself in a creative rut at times. There are peaks and valleys for all of us. When you’re in a rut, use that time wisely! Refine your skills, or learn a new one. Try shooting something totally different. Learn something new just for the sake of expanding your mindset and your knowledge base. About a year and a half ago, I decided to learn a little about Real Estate Photography, just to try something I hadn’t done before. Today, real estate work is a compliment to my portrait portfolio that gives me an outlet on a completely different level. The skill set that I use for my real estate jobs is completely opposite of the skills and tactics I use for my portrait work, in every way. It keeps me well-rounded and keeps me from getting bored! As photographers, there are always new things to learn. Cole’s Classroom has an extensive library of photography tutorials for you to choose from!
Build time into your schedule to shoot what you love! When we get discouraged, the knee-jerk reaction can be to put the camera away. We must intentionally change this response. Take your camera out frequently and leave it accessible so you can grab it quickly when you notice something you want to photograph. Shooting daily can have surprising results! Create the HABIT of seeing your world in an artistic way, and look for ways to shoot that you haven’t tried before. You don’t even have to leave your house!
Break the Rules
Let go of the rules. Nothing fuels the lie of not being good enough like the need for perfection. If you take them too seriously, the rules can choke out your creativity. So every once in a while, toss the rules out the window, and just create.
Always keep in mind that every single one of us is on a journey—not just as photographers—but as individuals, moving towards bettering ourselves and growing in our talents and skills. It takes time to grow. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight, or without a lot of hard work. We must be intentional to keep from being sidelined by the lie that or work isn’t good enough. It all comes back to focusing on your own personal growth and making persistent, determined choices to move forward. It’s important to have goals, but don’t forget to celebrate how far you’ve come!