Why and How: Six Tips for Increasing Your Confidence in Your Photos – Part 1
Are you familiar with the syndrome of lacking confidence as a photographer?
It manifests in those individuals who take incredible and unique photos but are too timid to share those photos with others.
Indeed, they think that their photos are worse than their peers, that they are not worthy of praise.
This syndrome is a pathological condition that creates a traumatic situation: being ashamed of one’s own photographs.
You may be one of those people.
In this article, I will give you some advice that I have incorporated in my own work to gain confidence in my photographic creations.
Table of Contents
The Little Story of This Article
A few years ago, after a career in illustrative photography, I was contacted for a decorative project.
The person wanted to hang photographic prints in different rooms of her home.
In browsing my website, she had found a collection that corresponded to her expectations.
The collection consisted of eight color photographs. The landscape photographs evoked the tranquility and serenity of the great natural spaces.
The tones were soft and calm, inviting the viewer to gaze for hours and dream.
At that time, I had already sold a few works, but the start of my career had been rough. I performed many estimates for potential clients, but because the prices reached past their budget, they fell through.
I had my moments of discouragement. The confidence I had in my plan to sell luxurious prints of extremely high quality was dwindling. I wondered if I had made the right choice in pursuing this career.
I was going through some tough times because I had also received several other negative reviews from an art director of a well-renowned magazine. The director found my photographic work to be too complicated to understand. She found my art prints and my photographic approach too emotionally engaging. For her, photography had to be placed on a purely aesthetic level.
This director believed that the viewer should make up their mind without guidance. Since she was a recognized and appreciated artistic director, I began to have strong doubts about the choices I had made in my work.
The estimate I was making for the collection of the eight prints was $45,000.
The amount of money, even if it seems a lot, was quite justified compared to my competitors and the quality of the photos.
I sent my estimate a few hours later.
A few days later, I received an e-mail asking me for an appointment via Skype.
During this digital meeting, I discovered my inner debate abilities. This client asked me detailed technical explanations as well as the means to install the works.
10 minutes later, he gave me a firm confirmation of the order. I had just sold my first collection for $45,000.
It was from that day on that I became more confident in my photographic activity.
Even today, I still have my doubts sometimes, but they are doubts that I can sweep away easily, by applying the advice I am about to give you.
The Definition of Photographic Confidence
Confidence is the sense of assurance that comes from the awareness of one's own self-worth.
If I apply this definition to the creation of photographs, it means to have the assurance of making good pictures, to trust oneself.
By “good pictures”, I mean interesting, meaningful, aesthetic photographs that make sense and resemble you.
We will see together now why it is important.
Why Is It Important to Develop Confidence in Your Photos?
You chose photography as a means of expression because:
- You have some messages to share.
- You want to show your vision of the world.
- You want to explain your perspective of beauty.
- You want to share your emotions with a certain audience.
If you take pictures that remain hidden on your computer's hard drive or in the digital storage of your mobile devices, you are not accomplishing your goals.
The consequences are as follows:
- You are going to take fewer pictures because you are not motivated. Little by little, you will lose interest in this creative activity.
- You are not going to make any progress because you are not receiving feedback from an audience.
- Other people will certainly miss an opportunity to learn and experience life through your work. They will miss that chance for inspiration.
In the end, everyone loses something, both you, and the people you could have inspired.
The net gain of a lack of confidence is negative. This so sad. If you currently do not trust your own photos, you must change your mindset soon to avoid the consequences.
Fortunately for you, I will explain some tips for accomplishing this goal.
Gaining Trust Requires Consistent Action
You cannot look in the mirror and gain confidence. You cannot walk on hot coals to build trust.
Having confidence in yourself must be earned. Trusting yourself takes time. It must be developed through small steps that occur again and again.
The most important thing to understand is that trust is an outcome. It is not something that just magically arises in the beginning of a journey.
No one is born confident. It is not naturally present in you. You do not begin creating pictures and believe that they will immediately be a masterpiece. You become confident gradually. You are born naked, afraid, ignorant, and lacking confidence. As a child, you are dependent on others. You gain confidence as you age.
Too many people wish, pray, think, visualize, and meditate to gain confidence. It does not work.
Confidence is based on the results you get.
To have confidence in yourself you must act. You must see results of those actions. You will develop skills that can only be obtained through repetitive practice.
You will see the fruit of your work.
Success always precedes the creation of self-confidence. It is essential to understand this.
To be successful, you must act.
Confidence is the consequence of success. It is not the other way around.
Trust is earned and strengthened by confidence. Trust is proved by actions and not talk.
Whatever your dream is, do it.
How to Gain Confidence in Photography
To gain confidence in your photographs, you need to accept some simple principles:
- Perfect excellence is impossible to achieve.
- A picture always has components that you must master.
First of all, let us go back to the first point. You may be a perfectionist. Are you constantly striving for excellence in everything you do? I am just like you.
In some cases, this drive for perfection may be a beneficial quality. However, this can be a grave flaw. You must absolutely reach a compromise with this ambitious spirit if you are to gain confidence in your photos.
You must know that perfect excellence is impossible to achieve. However, you can get close to it without really achieving it. No matter what you do, you will always learn something new. Investing time and energy into something that is difficult is never wasted. It helps you to gain confidence. Even the newest beginner is learning something, and this especially applies to photography.
You must accept the fact that you will make changes in the way you shoot, frame, compose or wield creative techniques. You will then change your purpose and consequently your goals. This will happen again and again as time passes.
Photography is a creative technique that is constantly evolving. In five years, you will not be photographing like you do today. Even in three years, you will not develop your photos in the same way.
Now, let us move on to the second point. You must absolutely bear in mind that a photograph has components:
- A technical component.
- A meaningful or aesthetic component.
In order to develop confidence in your photographs, it is imperative that you master both components.
I often noticed that beginners do not trust their photos because they have not mastered the technique.
I often repeat in my photo workshops that technique is a necessary but not sufficient condition to create interesting photos.
For example, in wildlife photography, knowing how to use the manual mode is particularly important to adapt the aperture and the shutter speed to the speed of the animal or the quantity of animals in a group.
In landscape photography, a firm control of the depth of field is essential.
In underwater photography, the use of flashes in manual mode is a real plus to create modeling.
I would say that mastering the technique involves two steps:
- The fundamental techniques of shutter speed, aperture, and triangle exposures.
- The creative techniques of panning, zooming, HDR, panoramic, etc.
If you want to gain confidence in your photos, master the fundamental techniques first. Practice them until you are confident in your abilities. Creative techniques will come naturally.
Concerning the second component, which I call the signifying and aesthetic component, this is the most important point.
You must learn to make sense of your photographic activity. Do not photograph just because you have a scene in front of you. Ask yourself why you are going to do it. Ask yourself what title you are going to give to your photograph. This is what I call the meaningful technique.
If you choose to photograph only in the aesthetic realm, ask yourself where you would hang this photo in your living room or bedroom. Ask yourself on which support it should rest, and what the lighting will be like as you contemplate it.
Regardless of whether it is for aesthetics or not, if you search for the purpose of creating a photo, your confidence will increase. You have an attainable goal to reach.
Now that I have explained why and how to gain confidence in your photographs, I am going to give you six tips of advice that I think are essential.
These are principles that I apply to my photographic work.