Have you ever wondered how to become a more confident photographer? Perhaps you’ve seen other photographers in action and were taken aback by their self-assuredness. Or maybe you’ve considered how being more confident could help you land the contracts you know you deserve.
Keep reading to find out how increasing your confidence can help you become a better photographer and boost your business. We’ll also be sharing tips on how you can increase your confidence in general!
Pay special attention to the visuals we’ve included, which display the glow-ups of our community members who kept going despite any challenges they may have faced with their own confidence. It’s incredible to see their growth, from where they started to where they are today.
Why You Should Become A More Confident Photographer
There are so many ways that becoming more confident in your craft could serve you. Once you increase your confidence you’ll be able to:
- Challenge yourself by taking on bigger or more complex projects
- Increase your prices or better understand when it’s time to raise your rates
- Let go of fear of embarrassment and try new things
- Take jobs you may have turned down previously because you thought you weren’t good enough.
As a photographer, you’re often putting yourself out there in a very public way. The photography industry requires a high level of vulnerability, but it’s difficult to be vulnerable if you don’t believe in yourself.
This is where your confidence comes in. It gives you the ability to trust in yourself in unfamiliar situations. It also cements the faith you have in your own abilities. If you’ve ever suffered from imposter syndrome as a photographer, then you know how important it is to believe in your own skills and abilities, and how detrimental it can be when you don’t have that.
“Photography is an industry that requires a high level of vulnerability. It’s hard to be vulnerable if you don’t believe in yourself.” –Mastin Labs
Why Do Some Photographers Lack Confidence?
Why do some people seem to be born with boundless confidence, while others struggle to find faith in themselves? There may be a few reasons that can shed some light on this. First, did you know that humans are evolutionarily designed to be afraid of trying new things? It comes from our deeply rooted survival instinct. We subconsciously recognize our behavior patterns and attribute those behaviors to our survival.
Essentially, we’re hardwired to continue to repeat that same pattern because, as silly as it sounds, we believe that those patterns guarantee survival. When we try anything new, it triggers a fear response also referred to as our fight or flight response. Your nerves fire, your blood pumps, and your brain comes up with any excuse it can to keep you in your comfort zone. In an effort to avoid this, we may subconsciously desire to stay inside the bubble of what we are familiar with and know.
The thing about confidence is that it is dependent on you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. If you’ve ever thought that confidence comes as a result of success, from years of experience or from reaching a goal, you’re believing a falsehood.
In fact, the opposite is true. True confidence comes from how you respond to failure. When you’re pursuing excellence, you will fail, and your confidence will be tested. If you’re staying inside your comfort zone, you may be comfortable, but you’ll never be confident; the longer you repeat the same survival pattern, the more dependent you’ll become on it, and the more fragile you will feel.
Professional coach and mental training expert, Lindsey Wilson, says, “When we don’t take action, confidence doesn’t have the chance to develop…If you aren’t failing at all, you can’t possibly be pushing yourself. You cannot get to true confidence unscathed and without some battle wounds.”
So we know it’s important to push through the fear to build confidence. The question is: how can you overcome it for yourself and your photography?
5 Ways to Become a More Confident Photographer
Self-doubt is the enemy of success. If you believe you can’t do it, you probably can’t. When you let self-doubt guide your actions, you’ll never prove to yourself that you can. Former First Lady, Martha Washington, said, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” Positivity is a powerful tool, and one that can shape and direct our lives.
Be Your Own Best Friend
Positivity means talking to yourself the same way you would talk to a friend. How often do you say things to yourself that your best friend would never say or much less think? Be kind to yourself and your outlook will follow. Next time you hear that voice of negativity, think about what your best friend would say to you and say that to yourself instead.
This can be especially helpful with imposter syndrome—when you’re doubting your competence to do what you are completely capable of doing. Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself of what you’ve already accomplished. Reflect on a time you pushed yourself and it paid off. Recognize that you are not a victim of your circumstances, but a master of your fate.
Focus On What You Can Control
In life and in photography, there is only so much you can control. The best you can do is expect that it will work out, but prepare yourself in case it doesn’t. If you’re trying something new and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, think about what you can control and prepare for. Here are some tips on being prepared, which are especially helpful in new situations:
- Do your research. Know your client and be clear on what they want.
- Connect with other contractors in advance. If you’re going to be working on-site with other contractors and professionals, don’t hesitate to reach out in advance and make sure you’re all on the same page.
- Visit the venue ahead of time to get the lay of the land.
- Create a Pinterest board.
The more you prepare ahead of time, the more focused you will be on the day-of variables. You’ll be setting yourself up for a more confident state of mind by being able to focus entirely on what’s happening right in front of you. Plus, when you think about what’s actually in your control, you’ll realize that usually there’s much less real risk involved than you originally thought.
Accept the Worst-Case Scenario
Sometimes it helps to consider the worst-case scenario. This might sound a little backwards, but it works. For example, you want to try shooting film. The worst-case scenario is that none of the images turn out. For this scenario, think about what’s in your control. If none of the images turn out, how will you handle it and what is within your control?
In this particular case, you could choose to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario by shooting a digital backup. Perhaps you’ll also make sure that you have business insurance that will cover you if your backup plan fails and images are lost. This would not only show your commitment to delivering quality images, but will give you peace of mind, leave a lasting impression of your professionalism, say a lot about your integrity as a photographer, and boost your confidence that you have prepared well.
When you understand the worst-case scenario, you will often realize that even the worst-case isn’t that bad. This can help you face what is daunting for you and help you to feel ready for whatever may happen.
If you want to be a confident person, start by doing. This means living like a confident person lives, and doing what they would do. Scientific research on neuroscience has shown that our ability to create a personal narrative and establish a sense of identity really depends on how we recall past events. The most significant events are the ones associated with emotions.
Put plainly, you won’t feel confident until you practice confidence and form those memories. By walking the walk of a confident photographer, you rewrite your personal narrative in real time.
More Tips on Gaining Confidence in Your Photography
We’ve covered the big stuff, but there are also small actions you can start taking now to help you build more confidence, such as:
- Starting small. Ask a friend to model for you to work on different skills such as shooting in different types of light, using an off-camera flash, or trying out different styles (Dark and Moody or Light and Airy, etc.) until you feel more comfortable with them.
- Building a support system. You don’t have to feel alone, join our free community for photographers to plug into a positive, supportive network.
- Finding a mentor. Create a formal relationship with someone you know and trust as an expert photographer so that you have someone to turn to when you need help. Read our blog on mentorship.
- Sharing your work. Ask for honest critique from our online community, or from a close friend. Sometimes you’re too close to your photography to see it in an honest light.
Start Building Confidence as a Photographer Right Away
Getting comfortable being uncomfortable is not easy. Practice pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and remember that failure is inevitable. How you pick yourself up from failure says more about you than anything else.
Remember what is in your control, and have confidence that you’re capable of much more than you think. When you push yourself to try new things, learn from failure, and think positively. In time, you will become the confident photographer you look up to and admire.
Are you still getting to know yourself as a photographer? Read our blog on finding your creative voice.
Share your thoughts in the comment section below!