As I’ve begun teaching others how to edit their photos I’ve begun to realize that a lot of new photographers lack the confidence in their own work. I get questions like “Why don’t my photos look like this?” or “Should I buy a D800 so I can take better photos?” all the time and I’m starting to wonder if it’s simply because people don’t feel good about the work that they do create.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m my hardest critic, but I do always feel good about the photographs that I share, even if I wish I’d done something differently I am always happy that I got a result and gained some experience in the process.
Of course, it can be pretty obvious why people might feel this way when you think about it. After all the internet is filled with amazing photographs, just look at any of these inspirational posts on DPS and unless your one of the featured photographers you might wonder how you too could get to that level.
The simple answer is… First you have to feel good about your photography, because the instant you start doubting your own work, your work will start to suffer.
Of course that’s easier said than done, so confronted with these questions about confidence, I decided I’d take the time to come up with five little nuggets of inspiration that everyone should keep in mind. By doing so I think you will start to feel good about your photography no matter who or where you are in your journey.
Compare Yourself to Yourself Three Months Ago – Not To Art Wolfe
No matter who you are the best benchmark for improvement is yourself in the past. Take a minute and dig through your archives look back at the photos you took three months ago, a year ago, or even further.
When I do this task I’ll notice that my composition and my choice of settings continue to improve. I make smarter choices for focal points and I get better and better at picking the right exposure in camera. Whatever you do don’t compare your photography to another photographer’s work – good or bad – it’s not a fair benchmark and you won’t be helping yourself appreciate your work.
Defeat Gear Envy
Gear envy is something we all struggle with from time to time and unless you’ve been blessed with that mythical tree made of money you’re going to be doing more wanting and less buying. Don’t let the idea that a better camera, lens, accessory, gadget or what-have-you will make you a better photographer – it won’t – and worrying about it won’t help either.
Be happy with what you have and spend your time learning to get the best photos that you can out of this equipment instead of daydreaming about your dream machine – your wallet will thank you later.
Beat the Critics By Remembering Your Fans
Even if the only fans you have are your friends and family let them be your motivation to continue to produce more work and better quality work. Let them move you beyond the point your at now and push you to where you want to be. Be happy with every like they give you on Facebook or every comment they leave on your site – or even – every time your mom tells you that she got your newsletter and loved the photo of that flower that you took at her house last weekend.
Fans are why I do what I do and I still remember when my Facebook page had less than 30 likes and almost no interaction. It takes time and a lot of work to grow, but if you’re consistent, true to yourself, your fans, and always remember it’s not a race you’ll start to feel good about what you’re doing and then the rest will fall into place.
Know Why You’re Photographing
Are you taking photos because you want to pass time on the weekends, record family moments, or are you trying to make a career out of it? There many reasons why we take photos and before you can truly be happy with the results you capture you should define why you’re picking up the camera in the first place.
Share Your Work
And finally – this is probably the most important one – share what you do. Open yourself up to the world and let others see the what you’ve captured. Take the critiques with dignity and class and revel in the compliments from your fans and family.
If you need a stiff kick of inspiration here are some tips to help you get the confidence to share your photos I wrote for my own site a few months ago. The truth of the matter is the more you share the more you’ll improve and the more you improve the more you’ll be able to look at step number one and say – “Wow, look at how far I’ve come!”.
And that is what feeling good is all about.