Embracing Self-Doubt and Intimidation in Your Photographic Journey

Doubt and intimidation are common feelings in photography. They can hinder your progress and prevent you from pursuing your passion.

Coming to you from Justin Mott, this candid video tackles these feelings head-on. Mott reflects on his journey as he prepares for an exhibition in August hosted by Leica Singapore, featuring his Kindred Guardians project. He admits to wrestling with self-doubt throughout his career. Despite this, he has never let external skepticism or intimidation stop him. 

Mott shares experiences from his one-on-one classes and workshops, where he sees many amateurs crippled by self-doubt. They admire polished work by seasoned photographers, then look back at their own with dismissal. Thoughts like lacking credentials, fear of ridicule, or not having a social media following often plague them. These fears prevent them from taking meaningful steps in their photographic journey.

Every successful photographer has faced doubt and industry intimidation. The difference lies in not letting these obstacles become roadblocks. Mott recalls his early days as a budding photographer, juggling bartending shifts in San Francisco. A customer who owned a framing store believed in him and offered to host an exhibition. Despite having no cohesive body of work, Mott took the risk. This willingness to take risks, even when not entirely ready, is a key lesson. The experience itself is invaluable.

The video also highlights the importance of not letting others dictate your path. Mott has faced criticism and negativity at every step. Skeptics questioned his decisions, from having an exhibition to moving to Vietnam and pursuing wildlife photojournalism. He has learned to block out others' doubts and use his self-doubt as a motivator. 

Mott’s message to aspiring photographers is clear: share your work boldly. Build your online presence, start passion projects, embark on dream trips, publish books, and hold exhibitions. Success isn't about acclaim. It's about personal growth and satisfaction from pursuing your passion against all odds. Even if the exhibition isn’t a success by traditional standards, the experience is what matters. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Mott.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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1 Comment

I think we all have those nagging doubts at all times. I do. However, regarding Mott receiving criticism, it is pointed out that there are no statues to critics. We should be out best critic. I believe it was the Western artist, Frederic Remington (?), who destroyed a number of paintings that didn't meet his approval.