How to Be Inspired and Not Intimidated by Other Photographers

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Digital photography can be an intimidating hobby because once you get excited about it, you join photo-sharing sites and follow photography forums, and suddenly you’re inundated with lots of other photographer’s work, and *gulp*, a lot of it is better than yours!

It’s very easy to start to feel frustrated and that you’re not good enough, so in this article Jennifer Jacobs from iffles.com has put together a few tips on how to get inspired by other photographers instead of intimidated by them:

Concentrate on one thing to improve

Onething

It’s really easy to look through photo after photo from different people and get overwhelmed with all the things you wish you could do better – “I wish I was better at flash photography”, “I wish I could take a good shot of my baby”, “I wish I could get a good high key portrait”, etc.

If you start trying to work on all of those things at once, not only will you remain overwhelmed (and stressed! Goodness, I’m stressed just thinking about all those topics), but you won’t be able to give your full attention to any of them, so it will be hard to get really good at any of them.

For instance, after I first got my DSLR I really wanted to get a photo of me by candlelight. For the life of me, I can’t remember why I focused on this, but I must have read an article about it that made me want to try, so one night, I set up some candles and went for it. I can’t tell you how many photos I took, but I gave up.

A few days later, I tried again, and I finally took the photo that you see above. Is it perfect? No… but my complaints aren’t about the lighting – I don’t like the focus, the expression on my face and the composition could be a bit better… but the lighting? I actually achieved what I wanted. Plus, it’s a lot better than my first attempt.

Listen to others… but not too much

I don’t only get discouraged by other photos, I often get discouraged by things people say: “I would have cropped this differently”, “I don’t like the shallow depth of field”, “too much contrast!”. I think it’s really important to take in everything that everyone says, but to also take it with a grain of salt.

I think critique is important and that people often point out things that I didn’t notice in my own photos – I might be concentrating so much on getting the lighting correct that I didn’t notice the tilting horizon, or I’m struggling with how to edit a particular photo, so I go in one direction, but someone will suggest a different direction that I ultimately like better.

For instance, after an urban photowalk once, I posted some photos and asked for people’s opinions and someone pointed out one of my photos of a local theater might look better with a different crop and converted to black and white. I hadn’t considered this at all, but I tried his suggestion, and I ended up liking it:

Listentoothers

That being said, you can’t listen to everything that everyone says. For one thing, you need to have your own style, and you won’t get that if you keep doing what other people tell you to. Also, photography is an art, not a science. Someone else might hate something you love, and that’s ok! Because it’s their opinion and unless that person hired you specifically to take a certain photo – what YOU like matters more than what they like.

On a side note, even if they did hire you, I think it’s really important to stay true to yourself – I would never want to put my name behind a photo that I don’t like, but I suppose that’s a completely different discussion.

Use others’ ideas to come up with your ideas

It often seems to me that other photographers are much more creative than I am and come with all sorts of new ideas and things to take photos of that I never would have thought of. The thing is, they’ve all been inspired by others, too!

Instead of lamenting about “why didn’t I think of that first??”, instead, take their idea, and make it your own. I’m not advocating full-on copycats, just get inspired by certain bits and pieces from other people.

For instance, I have long admired a user on flickr named dCapFoto, and I couldn’t help but be amazed by his photography, especially his use of negative space, like in this photo, and his innovative use of props like in this photo. Inspired, I decided to take those two concepts and turn them into the following photo:

Othersideas

Watch your own progress

It’s really easy to think about all the things you haven’t learned yet. I, for instance, still don’t have an external flash, and I haven’t been happy with many of my photos of other people, and I often get down on myself for these things. It’s easy to forget about all the things I have improved upon. And that’s why I think it’s really important to take some time now and then to look back on where you’ve come from. Remember when you first got your camera and everything was just a bit out of focus? And you never edited a single photo? Think of how much more you know now!

If you use flickr, a great tool for looking back to see how much you improved is photojojo.com’s Time Capsule. You sign up with your flickr account and twice a month, they’ll email you a selection of your photos posted on flickr a year ago.

Remember, everyone has their off days

Feeling really overwhelmed by some of the photos you see on the internet? And think that they’re all so much better than yours? Remember, no matter who is took that photograph and where you see it – that’s not the only photo they took. You’re only seeing their best of the best. No one posts their crappy out-takes!

Now, I’m not saying I’m an amazing photographer, but even I only upload a very small percentage of the photos I take. Remember how I said that candlelight photo above was better than my first attempt? Well, here’s proof that we only ever upload our best photos, check out one of my never-before-seen first attempts at the candlelight shot:

Offdays

It’s OK. You can laugh.

headshot.jpgSo. How do you avoid getting intimidated? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author: Jennifer Jacobs is an amateur photographer who runs iffles.com – a site for photography beginners. She’s also addicted to flickr and you can follow her stream here.

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  • Nishanta

    wow…a good advice for a amateur like me. I really appreciate your post as i know it will definitely help me capture more efficiently…

  • Bojo

    This is exactly what I needed. Thank you for lifting my spirit up. I’ve been to hard on myself I guess.

    Great article!

  • joe kies

    high,,read your article,,found it good… one of the things that I have found to help me in life,,,is find someone to guide/help to learn what I know… teach them everything I know [if possible “on the job”]that way I have to try to figure out how to do [what I am teaching] even better…. it DRIVES me to learn more to keep ahead of my student… they learn//I learn… plus the extra experience adds to my knowledge… tks joe

    keep up the good fight

  • Gokhan

    Woow Jennifer !!! This is amazing friendly article!.. I really appreciate your post .. it will definitely help me..

  • Rich

    Great article. Where my frustration comes in is when my pictures look flat and dull, like a cheap snapshot, and I see the bright, vivid shots online. I know it’s post-production, but I sometimes struggle with getting my picture from ‘here’ to ‘there’. Cranking up stuff in Photoshop usually just makes things glow instead of giving them a full natural look. I have 100+ Photoshop tutorials, and 50+ action plugins, but recently I’ve started tweaking my pics in Lightroom, and they look much more natural.

    TIP FROM A NOOB: Double-check your pictures on another computer! My video card driver settings had my pictures slightly askew. I sent them to my other pc on my home network, and saw a big difference. I also looked @ them on a school pc. What others were seeing was not what I was seeing @ home.

  • davi

    Thank you very much for this article. I’m just beginning is this art and I just becoming stressed by the profusion of information that is provided by the internet. I’ll stay calm now and take a step after step. Really Thank you from Brazil.

  • Ray

    Thanks for taking the time to write this article.
    I forwarded it to my photography group here in Los Angeles.

    How do I not get intimidated?
    1. I realize that others may have put in more time over the years and with the same amount of time , I can improve as well.
    2. I look at my pictures over the years and see how much I’ve improved.
    3. Focus on one aspect at a time whether it be a camera setting or sublect matter.

    I remember one photo I posted on a photography forum which got rave reviews; the color, the lighting, the angle, etc.
    And all I did in less than 10 seconds was lean back in my recliner and snap a photograph of something that was on the television set!

    It amazes me what people will comment on when I post a photo. Some, I didn’t even expect.

    IMHO, after understanding the basic camera settings and functions
    how an image is percieved is mostly subjective anyway.

  • Kim

    Excellent article for those who think they take great pictures and those who don’t!! Kuddos for putting out one of your worst pics just to prove that point!!

  • Tamera Brewster

    Thanks for the article,as a beginner I have felt very intimidated by other photographers comments and their
    pictures, and your article has made me see that everyone has different taste and likes. I do this because I
    love taking pictures whether good or bad -and learn from them. Also I don’t know of anyone who really shows their not so good pictures -do you.Example : I toke over 300 pictures at a friends daughter’s wedding
    not all pictures turned out so great, but 85% turned out great- this was not my opinion it was from the bride
    she thought they were as good as her hired photographer.

  • thank you! whew! I sometimes feel very frustrated because I pitty myself. Now, I don’t need to worry.

  • Klebinger

    A nice comforting article! Thanks!

  • Andrea

    Thanks for these important words. I am on my second semester for photography and I can’t figure out how to unblur manual focus….grrrr

  • These are great tips, Jennifer! Thank you!

    …And actually, I ike the candle light photo of you at the bottom better than the one at the top! Just goes to prove some of your points! 🙂

    Cheers!

  • A really brave and different article; love it! Tweeted to my followers too, thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Jennifer, great article. Very encouraging.

    My main interest is food photography. How I motivate myself and avoid getting intimidated is, I go to websites like http://www.tarteletteblog.com/ and http://www.latartinegourmande.com/ (among many others). I see their old pictures from 1-2 years ago and see how much these pros have improved and think that I will get there someday (and it’s very exciting to think that it will happen :)). I also go see my old pictures too and see how much I’ve improved.

  • MG

    Good advice. I started about 4 years ago and pretty much feel into a studio right off the bat. I have since let the studio go and do it out of my home. I was doing wedding but have felt that they are not turning out like I would like so have backed out of that just to get more sure of myself. I have a lot of friends and family members getting into photography and I do get very intimidated by what they do compared to what I do. I will try to put your suggestions into practice. Thanks

  • Love this article….so nice to know everyone feels the same. I have often thought about walking away from the one thing I love. I know I’m not the best…..but I also don’t think I’m the worst. I think I have learned alot in the 2 years I have been pursuing a hobby. I intend to continue doing my best and learning as much as I can.

  • Daniyar Seisenov

    nice article. well done! not gonna lie, when I see those stunning photos by others I often get stressed out by thinking why the heck I’m not as good as them. Now I thnk we only see the things the way we wanna see. That being said, if there are some better photographers than me, thats good, but I know for sure there are also some people who can’t tell the difference between dslr and point and shoot cameras lol

Some Older Comments

  • Cynthia February 24, 2012 08:19 am

    Love this article....so nice to know everyone feels the same. I have often thought about walking away from the one thing I love. I know I'm not the best.....but I also don't think I'm the worst. I think I have learned alot in the 2 years I have been pursuing a hobby. I intend to continue doing my best and learning as much as I can.

  • MG August 5, 2011 03:08 am

    Good advice. I started about 4 years ago and pretty much feel into a studio right off the bat. I have since let the studio go and do it out of my home. I was doing wedding but have felt that they are not turning out like I would like so have backed out of that just to get more sure of myself. I have a lot of friends and family members getting into photography and I do get very intimidated by what they do compared to what I do. I will try to put your suggestions into practice. Thanks

  • Jenn August 2, 2011 02:05 am

    Hi Jennifer, great article. Very encouraging.

    My main interest is food photography. How I motivate myself and avoid getting intimidated is, I go to websites like http://www.tarteletteblog.com/ and http://www.latartinegourmande.com/ (among many others). I see their old pictures from 1-2 years ago and see how much these pros have improved and think that I will get there someday (and it's very exciting to think that it will happen :)). I also go see my old pictures too and see how much I've improved.

  • Al from Learning The Light August 1, 2011 06:44 am

    A really brave and different article; love it! Tweeted to my followers too, thanks for sharing!

  • Jennifer Moore October 8, 2009 05:27 am

    These are great tips, Jennifer! Thank you!

    ...And actually, I ike the candle light photo of you at the bottom better than the one at the top! Just goes to prove some of your points! :)

    Cheers!

  • Andrea September 15, 2009 10:26 am

    Thanks for these important words. I am on my second semester for photography and I can't figure out how to unblur manual focus....grrrr

  • Klebinger September 14, 2009 07:51 am

    A nice comforting article! Thanks!

  • Bonn VEner September 10, 2009 05:50 pm

    thank you! whew! I sometimes feel very frustrated because I pitty myself. Now, I don't need to worry.

  • Tamera Brewster September 9, 2009 10:11 pm

    Thanks for the article,as a beginner I have felt very intimidated by other photographers comments and their
    pictures, and your article has made me see that everyone has different taste and likes. I do this because I
    love taking pictures whether good or bad -and learn from them. Also I don't know of anyone who really shows their not so good pictures -do you.Example : I toke over 300 pictures at a friends daughter's wedding
    not all pictures turned out so great, but 85% turned out great- this was not my opinion it was from the bride
    she thought they were as good as her hired photographer.

  • Kim September 9, 2009 05:42 am

    Excellent article for those who think they take great pictures and those who don't!! Kuddos for putting out one of your worst pics just to prove that point!!

  • Ray September 8, 2009 05:38 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to write this article.
    I forwarded it to my photography group here in Los Angeles.

    How do I not get intimidated?
    1. I realize that others may have put in more time over the years and with the same amount of time , I can improve as well.
    2. I look at my pictures over the years and see how much I've improved.
    3. Focus on one aspect at a time whether it be a camera setting or sublect matter.

    I remember one photo I posted on a photography forum which got rave reviews; the color, the lighting, the angle, etc.
    And all I did in less than 10 seconds was lean back in my recliner and snap a photograph of something that was on the television set!

    It amazes me what people will comment on when I post a photo. Some, I didn't even expect.

    IMHO, after understanding the basic camera settings and functions
    how an image is percieved is mostly subjective anyway.

  • davi September 8, 2009 11:55 am

    Thank you very much for this article. I'm just beginning is this art and I just becoming stressed by the profusion of information that is provided by the internet. I'll stay calm now and take a step after step. Really Thank you from Brazil.

  • Rich September 7, 2009 02:41 am

    Great article. Where my frustration comes in is when my pictures look flat and dull, like a cheap snapshot, and I see the bright, vivid shots online. I know it's post-production, but I sometimes struggle with getting my picture from 'here' to 'there'. Cranking up stuff in Photoshop usually just makes things glow instead of giving them a full natural look. I have 100+ Photoshop tutorials, and 50+ action plugins, but recently I've started tweaking my pics in Lightroom, and they look much more natural.

    TIP FROM A NOOB: Double-check your pictures on another computer! My video card driver settings had my pictures slightly askew. I sent them to my other pc on my home network, and saw a big difference. I also looked @ them on a school pc. What others were seeing was not what I was seeing @ home.

  • Gokhan September 7, 2009 01:40 am

    Woow Jennifer !!! This is amazing friendly article!.. I really appreciate your post .. it will definitely help me..

  • joe kies September 6, 2009 02:13 am

    high,,read your article,,found it good... one of the things that I have found to help me in life,,,is find someone to guide/help to learn what I know... teach them everything I know [if possible "on the job"]that way I have to try to figure out how to do [what I am teaching] even better.... it DRIVES me to learn more to keep ahead of my student... they learn//I learn... plus the extra experience adds to my knowledge... tks joe

    keep up the good fight

  • Bojo September 5, 2009 10:49 pm

    This is exactly what I needed. Thank you for lifting my spirit up. I've been to hard on myself I guess.

    Great article!

  • Nishanta September 5, 2009 03:04 pm

    wow...a good advice for a amateur like me. I really appreciate your post as i know it will definitely help me capture more efficiently...

  • Simis September 5, 2009 02:53 pm

    Thanks for the article! It was a needed reminder. I liked both candle light shots.

    I used to compare my work to others work and feel intimidated but I have learned that our photography like our personalities should be different and I should only concentrate on being the best photographer as myself that I can be. Someone once said to me once (which I think is true of your photography too): "You can try and be the second best version of another person or you can be the best version of yourself!" The same thing goes for photography... If we all photographed the same things that would be boring!

  • sean September 5, 2009 05:44 am

    good advice. i often go to the local photo gallery with my photos and compare them to an artist whose technique and style i want to imitate. of course, i don't really copy them as much as i learn to incorporate what they do into my own style. however, i do get intimidated by the work of the pros.

  • Lena September 5, 2009 04:58 am

    Yes, I really liked your article too. Although, I would have loved to see more first pics! For me, I like the way that first pic came out. Maybe cut out the candles, but to me I like the lighting alot.

    I defintely feel I critisize myself too much when I take photos too. I normally do not venture far from the auto focus, but have been feeling sub par lately, and have since ventured out - determined to learn more. This is how I found this site actually. BUT, to keep from being intimidated by others - just first, remind myself that I am only learning still. Second - everyone I know (friends/family) completely loves my pics, my style. It is my own, and I am good at being me - so I do not worry! :)

  • Pam September 5, 2009 04:57 am

    Jennifer -

    Thanks so much for your post. I have been photographing for a couple of years now, and I'm still a closet-case about it. I get intimidated by other people's gear, and their seriousness about it. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

    Thanks!

  • Kaye September 5, 2009 04:10 am

    Great article. :) It was a great reminder to me that I just need to get back out there and experiment. Instead of feeling intimidated I should feel encouraged to try new things and use those awesome shots I see as inspiration instead. :) Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  • Zack Jones September 5, 2009 03:09 am

    Just remember every great photographer was once a sucky photographer. Keep at it, read your camera manual. You'll be amazed at the things you can learn from it. Experiment with different settings on the camera to see how the images differ. If you're shooting digital who cares if you take 200 shots? You can always delete the bad ones.

  • Rajev September 5, 2009 02:30 am

    Thanks, that was a very comforting as I am a beginner. The comments were equally helpful.

  • Kurt September 5, 2009 02:03 am

    No matter how good you are, there will always be someone better. And the one who is "the best" right now won't always be "the best," so it's a precarious position on the best day.

    To avoid getting intimidated I try to remember that I'm just starting. That helps a great deal. When I see things in other people's photographs I want to try, I add to a list of projects that I want to try. I also try to learn by identifying what is about others' photos that impresses me and attempting to emulate that.

  • Tom Lock September 5, 2009 01:25 am

    I don't get intimidated easily but when I see an amazing photo or a stunning album, I say "One day I'll be taking shots like that". Job done.

  • Sue Leonard September 4, 2009 11:11 pm

    My advice for being inspired and not intimidated by others' comments would be to treat all advice as a free photography course. Try to distance yourself from your own photographs and look at them through the eyes of someone else. You can then apply the "mother in law syndrome", ie. accept the advice you want to and ignore the rest. Don't forget, they are YOUR photographs and if you really don't want to change anything, then don't.

  • Chetaco September 4, 2009 11:03 pm

    Interesting article and comments. I can’t say I’ve felt intimidated by others photographs. I’ve always looked at photography as a multi purpose medium and take each purpose as it is intended. If I see something that is very interesting, I try to reproduce it. I’m not always successful, but the learning process is always rewarding even if I don’t achieve the desired outcome. In short, I look to the life enriching qualities of photography for opportunities to grow so those who do it well are mentors not competitors.

  • James September 4, 2009 10:47 pm

    Very interesting and very true, Its made me feel better about my fledgling abilities.
    Thanks for taking the trouble.

  • BobW September 4, 2009 09:46 pm

    Execellent article. Gives hope to all of us aspiring photographers. I'm just breaking in, and I'm rarely extremely happy with any shot I take, but I think thats good since it will keep me striving forward.

  • Paul September 4, 2009 09:01 pm

    Thanks for a good article, I too was almost ashamed to put my stuff 'out there' after getting lambasted by a few nasty comments from , come to find out arragant ( not so great photographers) big mouthed blow hards. Do I sound harsh well I am as much so as they were/ are regarding other peoples work. One of the photos I submitted was a great portrait that I took along time ago with film and scanned it to computer, so it was even a bit more graining than originally, Well I realised these folks were just trying to come across as experts, as I was told by an award winning fine arts photographer that it was a great work and she would hang it on her wall any day, so.. I learned to just take the comments good and bad as they are , and pick out what is helpful and 'delete the crappy ones" - even if I don't delete all my crappy photos right off!
    Thanks again! I love the DPS newsletters I get a lot of positive information from here!.
    from " An Aroostook Eye"

  • WBC September 4, 2009 03:12 pm

    Fantastic writeup - I am posting the link for some friends, and myself, so thanks.

    The only thing I can add to that is to do some reading also... I spent months playing, taking pictures and tinkering, then I would read a few books, repeat. Some of them are completely on composition - and it has really helped me to understand more.

    One of the fantastic things you talk about is copying others ideas and making them your own... I've always thought of that as my toolbox. I'd see something, then try to emulate it and get the technique down (even if it did not make a great picture) and then it would always be in my tool box for later.

    But thank you for this posting, it was a great read

  • Abhishek September 4, 2009 02:53 pm

    Superb article!

    Could you please tell me how you managed selective coloring in that prop shot? The face and everything else is monochrome and the cloth is in full color? How did you do that?

  • Lois September 4, 2009 01:18 pm

    Really good article! Thanks for posting this excellent reminder. I'm sure most photographers have felt intimidated at one time or another. I sometimes feel frustrated these days because I don't get as many "keepers" as I used to, but that's mainly because I don't have as much time and am not out shooting as much as I was. There's always a new thing to learn, try, or explore, which is one of the reasons I love photography.
    David Jackmanson's last two points were excellent, also.

  • Robert Gainor September 4, 2009 12:17 pm

    I started out in photography in 1981 with a Canon AE-1 that I borrowed from a friend till I was able to afford my own AE-1 Program, which I still have and still use on occasion. I learned how to process my own black and white film which was a pain in the... Back then film was expensive, processing was time consuming and expensive. I remember spending 6 to 8 hours in a darkroom working on just 2 or 3 pictures. With digital cameras and computers photography has become easier for everyone. One thing I have noticed that holds true for both film and digital, a bad photo is a bad photo and the only way to get better is to shoot more pictures and experiment to see what works for you and don't worry so much about the other guy.

  • Jennifer Jacobs September 4, 2009 12:15 pm

    Wow, guys, I just came through and read all your very kind comments and it really made me smile - when I wrote it, I figured I wasn't the only one who had felt intimidated before, but it's really nice to read the words and know I'm not alone! A lot of you had some really inspiring words to say, too - so thanks for lifting my spirits! :)

  • Woody September 4, 2009 11:42 am

    I agreed what you mentioned in this article....
    Your thoughts are totally happened to me since I got my ever first DSLR....
    thumb up to you....

  • Sara September 4, 2009 11:30 am

    I found this to be a very calming article. Its all very true and helpful. I find that when I get home from work or school I pop online and check my favourite art and photography sites. It is all very inspirational, but often times it is intimidating. There are some very young, but very gifted photographers that are wonderful and helpful - but many people think "copying" is a bad idea. So its hard to look at inspirational or beautiful photos and think "I could do that..." but you don't do it because it so similar to 'so-and-so's work ...

    I think the thing to remember is that those great photographers were beginners at some point too ... and they probably had the same thoughts as us! Look how great they are now... if you just keep at it and really congratulate yourself = you'll grow too!

  • Jeesica September 4, 2009 11:18 am

    Love this article. Photography is meant to be shared, and it's an art. Nothing is exact.

    These are some good points!

  • Craig September 4, 2009 10:56 am

    Wow, I couldn't have stumbled across this article at a better time as I was starting to feel this way and get a bit down on myself at how far I have to go to be where I want with my photography but in reading your article it has made me look back on how far I have COME! From buying my first DSLR 3 years ago and not knowing my "BULB" settings from my "Av" settings and thinking how overwhelming all of the bells and whistles on my camera were to now....3 years on, I have a solid grasp on the basic technical aspects of photography, I have my own website and have starting selling a small amount of my work and have even won a few competitions. It's so easy to walk into a gallery or visit a website and think how much better the particular photographer is than you but the truth is THEY had to start somewhere also. It has also made me consider the fact that I didn't get into photography to make money and get recognition, I got into it because I love it and have a passion for it. It makes me feel alive and gives me a buzz.....anything I get on top of that is really just the cherry! Thanks!

  • johnp September 4, 2009 09:11 am

    I think their is a positive side in getting other's opinions about your photos. I realise now what looks great to me might not at all impress someone else and conversely a photo you may think is pretty ordinary or even a reject may be the one that another person raves about. Out of a set of photos you will find different people will prefer different photos. I need to get a broader view of what makes a good photo and I think the best way to do that is to share your photos with others.

    Sometimes if you get too involved in an image it's hard to step back and look constructively at it. I suppose we don't have the luxury artists do of leaving a painting for a while before coming back to work on it as we are taking the image in a split second but I do think we can develop a fresh perspective before actually taking the image and in our approach to post-processing by absorbing, but not being intimidated by, other's opinions. Don't let others dictate to you what they think makes a good photo, you have to believe in and develop your own instinct, just try to take onboard their reactions to your photos.

  • Heather September 4, 2009 06:56 am

    I hear you on not trying to do everything at once! I've done that, and it's really easy to burn out, really quick. Right now, I'm trying to learn how to properly use off-camera flash. We'll see how that works out. lol.

  • Edmond September 4, 2009 05:58 am

    I do like your first attempt at andlelight. :) I have noticed that I don't get intimidated but I do get a little disillusioned by the high opinion I have of myself? This said, I mostly feel confident because I do photography as a call, a natural need. I don't need to get better or get somewhere but rather I am here and I am already where I need to be. This is the only way, I think. Thanks for the great article.

  • Tomblerone September 4, 2009 05:39 am

    I actually started with this:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adhe55/1346045562/
    and it took a lot of time to get photo's like this one agian....
    And it took a lot of motivation:)

  • Jill September 4, 2009 05:21 am

    I read your article and was like "Holy Crap! How did she know I am feeling totally overwhelmed?!" I just purchased my first dslr camera and have been surfing different websites, blogs, etc. that I didn't even know existed until this week-- talk about intimidating! For years I've wanted to get into photography (I attempted in college-- back in the day of the 35mm)--- but it never seemed to happen. But I've always wanted to give it another try and now that I'm a mom, I've found that I want to take portraits of my own kids rather than take them to the dreaded JCPenney Studio for 30 minutes of crying (kids), sweating (me), and the huge bill at the end. So I'm trying to learn all I can and reading your article definitely helped me-- Knowing that everyone (well, most everyone) gets discouraged sometimes when they look at others' photographs is strangely comforting. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Ashley September 4, 2009 04:55 am

    Great article and very true! Someone told me I should read some photography books and perhaps take a class to learn the "rules". I'm not ashamed to admit that I got on a soapbox and kinda took his head off with my response. I feel you can't teach art. Some people will love my photos and some people won't. I can't please everyone and honestly, I don't want to. I do not want someone to teach me photography because unless I truly don't even know what a camera is, I'd rather figure it out on my own and learn along the way. I also don't want someone pushing their bias and preferences on me, even subconsciously.
    Truthfully though, I have a hard time believing when someone tells me my work is good. (Can you tell I am new at this?)
    I do get down on myself when I take a photo that doesn't come out exactly like I wanted it to. I prefer my images to be crisp, vivid, and sharp. I also spend a LOT of time photographing my cats so crisp, vivid, and sharp rarely happens (at least when they are awake). I'm still learning that it is ok if not every piece of fur is sharp and if it starts to blur at the ends. I don't like it...but like I said. I'm learning.

  • Alan Nielsen September 4, 2009 04:40 am

    take it and go! That's what I say. When someone is giving their opinion on your photo, take what they say and go. Sometimes that "go" is go forth with their idea, other times it's take it and "go" away.

    I will always read what others are saying about my pictures if i have asked for their critique. However, after about 10 responses, you can sometimes see a pattern emerge in people's response. If they are all saying 'crop', then try cropping. If they all say 'contrast', then try contrast. If everyone is saying something different, then guess what, you've nailed it! It's like when a band says "we sound like metallica mixed with dream theater mixed with savatage and a hint of blind melon". No, sorry, you sound like yourselves.

  • Todd Eddy September 4, 2009 04:25 am

    This is more of an overall life mantra if you will: Don't take anything seriously. Obviously there's exceptions like a family member is hurt / needs help in some way. Most comments though I never take seriously. I'll take it in, take what is actually useful and then move on. If someone posts "OMG LULZ THAT'S SO STOOPID LOL THE PICTURE IS CROOKED HAH NOOB" I'd look at that and go "yeah, I guess it is slightly off balance, thanks!" I've gotten some valuable information and something to keep an eye on in the future. At the same time sideswiping all the negativity in that comment.

    I've submitted to some of these guest photographer of the day at various blogs and the one question they allways ask that scares me: "who are your X most influential photographers" and I don't really have any. May sound kinda snobish but I've seen a lot of different photos from a lot of different people there isn't any particular person I can say influenced me. It's just all the pictures I've seen that somehow inspire me and gives ideas how to improve my own photos.

    I use this technique when choosing pictures to publish, for each "scene" choose one picture and make a note of WHY that picture is better than the others. Keep that in mind for future use. You can also apply that idea to looking at other photos. Why do you like that picture? What would you change to make it better? As an example, not to pick on Jennifer, but that first candle-lit photo looks nice but the color is too orangish to me. Also not being a fan of post production I'd want to fix that in camera. Fix could be as simple as increase the exposure or get complicated and put a stobe behind each candle with a slight blue filter on it to "cool" the color of the candles.

  • KimberlyRose September 4, 2009 04:16 am

    wow, very good article! It really is something that I think every photographer deals with... I know I do every now and then. In fact, I'm in a funk right now and I think this may be my inspiration, so thanks!

  • Dunja0712 September 4, 2009 04:06 am

    Thanks for the advices and tips, I loved this article. :)

  • Umer Sarfraz September 4, 2009 03:47 am

    Excellent article, makes me feel more confident. With regards to Listen to others… but not too much, there is a saying in my language (Urdu): "sunee sab kee hai, karnee apnee hai" which means listen to everyone, but do what you want to do.

  • Sarah September 4, 2009 03:39 am

    Thanks for the article. It came at the perfect time too. I was hired to be 2nd photography at a wedding on Saturday. Although I feel way less stressed knowing that the main formal posed shots are not on me, I can pretty much focus on whatever I want, and I'll be there 8 1/2 hours so choosing about 600 photos that I want to give them shouldn't be a big deal *knock on wood*. What I'm nervous about is being around the MAIN photographer....At least I finally got a good flash though, that'll help my confidence some!

    I started a year and a half ago with my DSLR (Canon Rebel XT), did a cousin's wedding reception and a few family shoots last fall, couple things in the spring, and then all of a sudden it took off. A few in May, then from June thru now I've had at least 1 a week with quite a few weeks 2. Now all of a sudden I have 3 a week and I'm rapidly booking October. Freaking out a little bit, but it's good. :) And I can hide it well! :)

  • Risk September 4, 2009 03:08 am

    I started to read this and thought about the very first time I got my dslr and went to an abandoned building. I took many, many, many shots, and just one got really well. All of them were blurred, the white balance was hell to set up and the aperture was making me mad XD

    I also remember that I missed most of the shots because I was very slow by that time, but I keep every single pic I made then. I like to see them and say "I could use this and that and try it in another shot". I like to compare them. Sometimes I even go to the very same place and try to get a similar shot just to compare what differences are in the new one and the old one.

  • Pavan September 4, 2009 03:04 am

    Very true. A very well writtten article. I really did have all those doubts when I started clicking photos, but then I realised that you can't grow as a photographer if you feel overrawed by other's work.

    I would recommend this article to all.

  • Ken September 4, 2009 02:56 am

    Really nice article, well constructed with relevant examples. I started with digital photography almost a year ago and I have experienced a lot of what you're describing. I joined a local Flickr group but after a couple of weeks of being ignored decided to leave - in hind sight my expectations were likely too high. My solution though was to form a smaller group with a few friends. This ended up being less intimidating and with weekly photo challenges we've been able to concentrate on a smaller number of things we want to improve rather than everything at once. - Ken

  • Shaun September 4, 2009 02:41 am

    Well for me, i think the most important thing (after experimenting) became deciding what aspect of photography i wanted to focus on... no pun intended! Just having a clear vision of where i wanted to go made it easier. Because, i think a big part of what makes us become intimidated in the beginning is a lack of vision, we're all jacks of the trade and masters of none! We explore many forms, which is good at first, but then it helps to know where you want to go! Then, just work at it until you're happy with the results! Practice makes the master! Me personally, i discovered that i like photojournalism, studied Joe McNally's work for tips and then went out and started looking for as many stories i could use my photos to capture! I could even just make pics in such a way that they tell the story I want them to by my framing and lighting!

    There will always be others out there better than you, but if you're doing what you love and you focus all your energy and time on your own work, then who cares what they're doing? We're all different and unless you're studying someone else's work and copying it to the letter, the results will always reflect your own style and that's the most important thing!

  • Jessica S. September 4, 2009 02:36 am

    Thanks so much for this article. I think we all have days when we look at other people's work and wonder if we're any good. The important thing to remember is that we can all still get better.

  • Miranda September 4, 2009 02:28 am

    I've never commented on a DPS post before, but I have to comment on this one.

    Thanks so much for your words of advice. Sometimes I just get so intimidated looking at all the beautiful portraits I see online, and it discourages me so much I don't even pick up my camera.

    All this advice is very encouraging! Thanks so much for your post. :) Especially the last image!

  • David Jackmanson September 4, 2009 02:12 am

    The way I avoid being intimidated is to realise how little I like photos that other people like. In the city where I live, there are three or four subjects that ALWAYS turn up. But no matter how good someone is at post-processing, does the world really need another hundred thousand beautifully-produced but not-very-original time lapse photos of car lights streaking along a road at night?

    I tend to dislike what I call the "merely pretty". Good luck to the people who do good commercial-grade photos of sunsets and old people whose inner beauty is shining through. But they bore me mostly. (Why can't we have more photos of bitter, nasty old people who spend each day reflecting on their wasted lives? If it's an action shot of them attacking the photographer, well so much the better!)

    I don't want to tell people what they should or shouldn't like. But I think you *should* look at THOUSANDS of photos on flickr (maybe start with ones tagged with your nearest big city) and get an idea of your own original style, an idea about how you could stand out from the rest.

    98% of all my post-processing is done in Picasa. I only have a Fujifilm Finepix S5600 so my colours aren't very good, and I haven't really used manual mode as much as I would like. I've only got 10x optical zoom.

    But the other weekend, I went to the set of the Narnia movie that's being filmed near-ish to me and took some photos of the "Dawn Treader" (the boat in the movie). They weren't that great quality, and some of the zooms were very grainy. But over the space of a week I got about 10 000 views on Flickr, when I normally get 100 or so a day.

    Another thing that I'm very proud of is that a photo I took of the Australian Prime Minister was picked up by someone else and used on his Wikipedia article - it's the first photo you see of him on the article.

    I still have a lot of photography limitations, and I'd like to overcome them, but that takes time and effort - it won't happen overnight. I like to remind myself that I've had some successes, not by being an especially skilled processor or talented camera operator (I'm not), but by being the person who got off their bottom to take a photo and put it on the Internet.

    So the way to not get intimidated?

    1) Work out what YOU like to do - preferably something original.
    2) Get out there and take photos and upload them! The more photos you take, the more chance you have of someone noticing them and thinking they're cool. And *that* is a wonderful feeling, no matter how technically good you are.

  • Carlos September 4, 2009 02:09 am

    Thank you so much for your suggestions! I am one of those who tend to underestimate my own work.
    Your photo with the candles is beautiful, and I do like the expression in your face: no matter the focus...

  • MeiTeng September 4, 2009 01:59 am

    Jen, thanks for sharing this. I picked up photography in June last year. I started off abit shaky knowing next to nothing about cameras and the world of photography. Looking back, I learned alot from my past mistakes. Over time, I got to know my camera better, learned how to shoot in manual and eventually found my own style. Today, I have friends who have complimented me on my vast improvement since I first picked up this hobby. I am happy to hear and know that there are people out there who enjoy viewing my photos. I shoot for myself and not for others. If they enjoy my photos, it's all right. If not, it's still all right. I will keep on shooting and improving.

    I like your candle light self portrait and that "pull over the face" photo is cool!

  • tjorgen September 4, 2009 01:55 am

    Thanks for the article! I have to say I find that happening with me as a student in college. I compare my work to other peoples and what I see on the internet and it does get you down. I think you also need to take a look back at your last photo that "wow"ed you. The last picture that you took and though "I do pretty good work" and remember that . Think about all the other people who are looking at your work and thinking how great it is.

  • Xerophytes September 4, 2009 01:53 am

    Great article.

    And yes, everyone uploaded the best and processed picture. I don't upload my crap pictures, in fact, I delete it right away. LOL.

    I use aminus3.com as my photoblog... I think I should build on my flickr account.

    http://www.flickr.com/xerophytes

  • Melissa Soro September 4, 2009 01:49 am

    great! for all photography lovers like me: Thanks! :D

  • TY September 4, 2009 01:42 am

    HI Jennifer

    Thanks for your reminder.
    I started getting more serious with photography, reading books, go for test shooting with my new gear on hiking trips, etc. Sometimes I did fell into traps similar to those you have mentioned.

    TY

  • Darren Nicholls September 4, 2009 01:16 am

    You have no idea how true all of that is. I have been putting way too much pressure on myself about my photos (One of the downsides of being creative I suppose)
    I often see other photos on the net and think "Bloody hell I'll never be that good, I'm way behind" but I have recently made friends with two very professional photographers and they have both admired some of the pics I have taken. One even suggested I enter it in to a competition.
    I am learning to put aside my fears and just enjoy it for what it is. Good article and very true for most amateur photographers I know.

  • Mike September 4, 2009 01:16 am

    Wonderful article. I look forward to perusing your iffles.com website.

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