5 Ways to Deal With Doubts & Insecurities as a Photographer
In our profession for some reason it’s taboo to talk about any doubts or insecurities we may have. We want everyone to think that we have it all together all the time, and I’m going to let you in on a little secret. No one does. We are all human after all, and running your own business can be hard. It’s stressful, and time consuming, and some days you just plain feel like giving up. And I know I’m not alone in that. But does that make us bad business owners? No! It just means that we are passionate about our job.
I for one am extremely passionate, and maybe that’s why I am so critical of myself. But I struggled for such a long time with my doubts. I felt like I was a failure and all I wanted to do was quit. Maybe you’re in the same boat as I was, or maybe not. But regardless, I think these five tips are great things for every entrepreneur to apply.
#1. Stop comparing yourself to other photographers.
I know this is a hard one. The comparison game can be SO strong within our community, and it’s hard not to look at other people’s work and base your own success off of theirs. But the thing is, every photographer’s style is different. Even photographer’s with similar styles of editing all go about their business differently. I truly believe no two artists are the same. And that’s what is beautiful about it! Different people are going to be drawn to different types of photos, and you can’t expect every client to love the same kind of work. That’s why there are so many photographers after all! I don’t take offense anymore if one of my friends prefers to hire another photographer for something over me, because I know that that style fits their vision better. I honestly wouldn’t want them to hire me if they weren’t absolutely in love with my style. People are going to have different preferences, and just because someone doesn’t hire you for their photos doesn’t mean that you’re not good at what you do and it most certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t like you as a person.
It’s so difficult to not take things personal when your photos are such a huge part of who you are as a person. But I promise it will help you so much if you can learn to separate your business from your worth. Because you are amazing.
Instead of comparing yourself to other’s in your field, try to learn something from them! I am embarrassed to admit that I used to spend way too much time having negative thoughts about people who were more successful than me. I built it up in my head to the point where I thought that because they were “better” they were looking down on me and I resented them for it. I hate saying that, it’s horrible. But it’s the truth, and I want to be real with you. When I finally decided to swallow my pride and reach out to those who were more experienced, I realized just how much I could learn from them. I realized that they actually wanted to help me, and I kicked myself for not reaching out sooner. Jealousy can be such an awful thing, and all it does is stunts your progress. Once I got over my jealousy issues I was able to channel that energy into something more positive. I started following successful photographers and taking notes on what they were doing different than me. And let me tell you, it was an absolute game changer. If you find yourself in a place where you are down on yourself a lot because you feel like you’re just not as good as those around you, I encourage you to please stop comparing. Because you have something to offer that nobody else does. Yourself.
#2. Stop taking social media so seriously.
That’s a hard one. And I’m not going to deny that social media is important for growing your business. I know that social media is a great way to gain clients, but at the same time you shouldn’t get too invested in it. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and let that define your worth or success. Realize that they are just that, numbers. I know plenty of photographers with a huge following who are struggling to get work, and I know lots who have a very small following on social media but are constantly booked. The amount of likes you get and how successful you are as a business owner do not go hand in hand. I’ve spoken with friends and entrepreneurs who felt so discouraged by the number of followers they had that they quit Instagram all together because they couldn’t handle the stress. Unfortunately social media is a part of running a business in today’s world, but that doesn’t mean you have to invest everything you have in it. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you should use the number of follower’s someone has as a way of validating their success or your own.
All I can say is to stop taking it so seriously. Use it at a platform to get your name out there and to learn from others, but don’t get too invested in it to the point where it starts to control your life. 🙂
#3. Find your tribe.
This one’s so important. Wherever you are, find a community of people who are in the same boat as you. If you’re a mom and a photographer find women in your area who are also those things so you can relate to each other. It helps so much just to know that you’re not alone. When I first started out I didn’t realize that there was this entire group of photographers who were right in my area going through the exact same struggles that I was. I had no idea!
I felt so isolated and alone in my journey and would often complain to my husband about how hard it was to have a job where I was essentially working by myself. I didn’t have anybody to bounce ideas off of, or to vent to that would really understand. It took me a while, but finally I got brave enough to start talking with other photographers around me. I joined Facebook groups and awkwardly attended workshops and get-togethers by myself hoping to make some friends. I don’t mean to make this sound like a pity party at all, I just want to paint a picture of what I was going through. Because I KNOW that some of you are at this point in your career right now, and I know just how difficult it can be. But once I realized that all of these other photographers around me were also searching for the same things I was it made it so much easier. Now, I have such a large group of wonderfully talented people I have surrounded myself with. People who I can plan stylized shoots with, second shoot for, ask for advice, or just vent about the struggles of this job with. And let me tell you, it makes all the difference in the world.
#4. Shoot for yourself.
So often we photographers get caught up in our clients. I mean that’s what we’re supposed to do right? Yes. But sometimes it’s good to take a step back and take some time for yourself too. If I book my calendar too tight to the point where I’m shooting for other people back to back I start to lose my creativity. I have no room to explore new ideas or make my own art and soon I start to feel suffocated. I love creating beautiful images for other clients, but when I’m being paid to shoot something it’s a little different than when I’m just shooting for myself. I can’t play around with settings or editing styles as much, because obviously the paying customer is expecting a specific type of work. But there’s no way to grow if you don’t get outside of your comfort zone and try new things. So I think one of the most important things to do when you get in a “photographer’s funk” is to grab your camera and just go explore! Grab some friends or family and make them model for you, or just go out on your own and see what you find. All that matters is that you take some time to shoot for you. No rules, no restrictions, just pushing the boundaries and learning new things.
Try it. You can thank me later.
#5. Lastly, remember why you started this journey.
Why did you decide to start a business in photography? What were you hoping to get out of it? Was it a way to provide? Was it something you always wanted to do? Was it something you just picked up a few months ago and fell in love with? Whatever the reasoning is remember that’s your drive. That’s why you looked at your camera and said “hey I want to do this for a living”. For me, photography is my passion. I love the ability to freeze a moment in time and then go home and play with the colors and lighting and mood to really make you feel what was happening right then. I love the emotion one single frame has the ability to capture. More than words ever could. And I love having the artistic ability to create whatever I want with my camera. I love the challenge of always learning new things and being pushed to new levels. I love all the little technical things that most people don’t even realize goes into a photo. I love it all.
But when I get caught up in all of the business side of things sometimes that can be easy to forget. So when you start getting stressed or doubting your abilities go back to your roots, remember why you started.
Meet the Blogger.
Thanks for stopping by!
I'm Alexis. Photographer, World Traveler, Wife, Twin Mom, and lover-of-all-things-pumpkin.
Here you'll find the sessions I've done, advice for photographers and future clients, and the occasional personal post starring my favorites humans.
I like to keep it real, if you dig that then I'll probably dig you.