The Impostor Syndrome in Photography: A Trap to Avoid

Landscape in black and white of Death Valley in California. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Landscape in black and white of Death Valley in California.

Trap #3: Not Daring to Act

The trap I call “wait-and-see” is truly a terrible one.

There are some days where you have new ideas, or you may have learned new techniques. You may dream of creating a new photo project or want to apply to a festival for an exhibition. You feel that several of your photos could be excellent candidates for a competition. But you do not take the plunge. You decide to “wait and see.” You do not dare to act. Why not? You do not have confidence in your work. You think that others have already done it and that they are better than you.

Do you think you are alone in this case? Welcome to the real world. I am like you. The day I realized that knowledge without action was useless, everything changed for me.

Even if sometimes I go backwards, I do not hesitate, and I take the plunge. By not remaining in one place, I will eventually reach the destination I so desire. You must also learn to do as I do. If you have ideas, put them into practice. Follow through on what you want to do. Do not leave it to others to choose the right opportunities.

For example, if you want to photograph landscapes or animals for years, prepare your project. Set a goal and objectives. Then achieve them. Get down to business. Do not live in your dreams and in your comfort bubble. You are the only person who can decide what is right or wrong for yourself.

Trap #4: Not Showing Your Photos

Do you know that the most beautiful photos in the world will be the worst photos if they remain on your computer's hard drive, hidden from the world's view?

Not daring to show your photos is a trap that you must absolutely avoid if you wish to progress in your photographic journey.

I know many photographers who do not dare to show their pictures. Indeed, they are afraid of criticism. They are afraid of the comments or remarks that will be made. That is normal. I understand them.

We are afraid to face others’ criticisms. We are always good to ourselves.

Why go rubbing shoulders with others? The answer is simple. By showing your pictures to others, you will make progress. You will improve your photographic approach. You will refine your photographic why. Your photos will become interesting. They will have impact and meaning.

I advise you to learn how to show your photos in a balanced way to receive constructive comments. You have at your disposal :

  • Social networks.
  • Websites.
  • Exhibitions.
  • Publishing magazines.
  • Contests.
  • Etc.

It is a long list. You have the choice to show your photographic creations.

But beware of another trap. Certainly, the likes of social networks are flattering to your ego. But they are absolutely useless if they are not accompanied by a comment. Learn how to show your photos but especially in places where you will get constructive feedback that will allow you to progress.

Trap #5: The Impostor Syndrome

Are you familiar with impostor syndrome?

It is very widespread in the world of photography. It is also called the self-taught syndrome.

It is simply a form of sickly doubt that consists in denying ownership of any personal achievement.

Photographers with this syndrome attribute the success of their photographic activity to external factors such as luck or circumstances beyond their control. These photographers perceive themselves as less than they are worth. They are abusing themselves who love their pictures. They always expect that their photographic talent will one day be unmasked.

If you feel this very pernicious doubt, you must absolutely do something about it because your photographic creativity will suffer.

I also fell into this trap when I started making the first photo sales. I told myself that it was not possible to sell photos for thousands of euros. I told myself that they were too expensive. I often justified their excellence by the fact that I had been lucky, that I had met someone who had made my job easier. I did not give myself credit when I had worked hard, even though it had been difficult. One day, after my first big contract worth tens of thousands of euros, I realized my mistake. I realized that I had become a self-taught photographer who did deserve some praise. I had gained self-confidence. My attitude had changed. A few months later, I had overcome my doubts. I no longer had the impostor syndrome.

If you are having these doubts because you are self-taught and have created your photos by yourself, convince yourself that you deserve the success you have experienced. Do not doubt your potential. Continue the path you have chosen.

Trap #6: Focusing Only on Technique

You should always keep in mind that "photographic technique is necessary but not sufficient to create interesting pictures that make sense".

When I speak of photographic technique, I evoke:

  • The choice of framing.
  • The composition.
  • The point of view.
  • The right focal length for the subject.
  • Digital noise management.
  • The sharp focus.
  • Etc.

I am not talking about artistic technique, which is another subject for a different conversation.

Many photographers, beginners or not, are obsessed with technique. I have met and continue to encounter photographers who have years of experience and who think that their camera is never good enough. They think that because they use a particular brand is the reason why their pictures are good. That is a big mistake.

Their problem is not in the photographic technique but in their photographic approach.

If you participate in a photo workshop, the technique is acquired in a few days. It is not complicated. A trainer or a photo animator can meet all your expectations in two or three days.

Claim your free guide to make your photo impactful and meaningful

Claim Your Free Guide '50 Pages of Tips to Give Impact and Meaning to Your Photos'.

The important thing is what you decide to do with your technique. Using photo technique is exactly like writing or music.

Knowing how to form words, sentences, and blocks of text is technique that must be mastered. But will you be able to write a short story of a few pages? Will you be able to write a novel of several hundred pages? Will you be able to write a poem?

Music is similar. Even if you can write notes on a staff and you know how to use the sharps of musical variations, will you be able to complete an entire composition or only a few bars?

Photography is the same thing. Perfect knowledge of the technique is not enough to create interesting pictures. You need something else.

This is what attempt to explain in this blog that discusses the photographic approach.

Do not be obsessed with technique. This obsession can lead you into a trap that will be difficult to get out of. Think of technique only as a tool for your creativity.

Think of technique only as a tool for your creativity.

Trap #7: Not Thinking of Long-Term Effects


Add comment

I Want to Help You to Create Interesting Photos