Tips to Gaining Confidence as a Photographer
Building confidence in yourself as a professional photographer is an essential part of your journey toward success as a photographer. The Nobel-winning scientist Marie Curie once said: “We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
Curie was correct. But, how do you build confidence as a photographer?
When you first start out as a professional photographer, your skills will help you build a reputation and gain clients. You can use those skills to compensate for the lack of experience. However, as you struggle to attract clientele and likely make some mistakes along the way (everyone does), confidence can be difficult to nurture and grow.
Here are some suggestions on how to build your confidence as a photographer. Let’s start with the most important tip of all.
Practice a lot, and, then practice some more! If you want to get good at something, then naturally the more you practice, the better you will become. What follows then is confidence. Remember, no amount of reading or studying of a topic replaces practical experience. (Ask a surgeon.) Try to shoot pictures every day. You will find that as you build your skills, you will take better pictures, and feel more confident in your abilities as a photographer.
Study and Learn:
Having just said that you can’t learn strictly from reading about photography, we will nonetheless encourage you to read as well as practice. There are tons of materials including blogs for free online (our blog included). Take advantage of tips, information, and equipment reviews. Use the Internet and books to learn from photography experts. Seek out what you are weak in or know the least about.
Take notes on what you’re doing while shooting - especially if you’re shooting in manual mode. This will allow you to learn from your mistakes - and there will be mistakes, after all! Jot down what settings you used and when so you can match your notes to your errors (pictures) later in post-production editing. Also, don’t just delete images straightaway in your camera. Use them as lessons when you download them to your computer.
If you want to become good at something, change up the conditions in which you practice it. Learning how to shoot under different conditions will teach you how to be nimble which will make you a better photographer. You can’t always control light, movement, or other elements, so learn early on to adjust your camera (and yourself) to meet the demands of the shot. The more you challenge yourself, the more confidence you will gain!
Learn from others:
Don't be bashful! Learn to ask questions and ask for help from those better than you. Most experienced photographers will be happy to answer your questions. Network with a group of professionals but make sure at least several have more experience than you and are better than you. Set yourself up to learn from them and seek out mentors. Most talented photographers will tell you that they were mentored at some point in their professional careers - sometimes throughout their careers! Meet with your mentor or mentors regularly and soak up their wisdom!
Every young professional starting out should establish and write down several goals. Whether your goals are to learn new things or certain milestones you'd like to achieve in their career, write them down. Be sure to challenge yourself by selecting several goals that feel a bit out of your current reach, but to which you can aspire with time. (Remember this part of Marie Curie's quote: “...that this thing must be attained.”) Once you set your goals, hold yourself accountable to reaching them. Consider involving your mentor or networking group if you feel that would help you stay on track to meeting your goals!
Lastly, give yourself credit for the good work, energy, and effort you are putting into your craft. Often, we are hardest on ourselves. Be honest with yourself, but do give credit when and where it's due, and you'll find yourself gaining the confidence of a professional in short order!