Have you ever considered how significantly confidence can affect your photography? Creative people are often a largely unconfident group. At any given time we might be dealing with the fear of missing an important moment, anxiously thinking about an upcoming session, running the worst possible scenarios through our minds, or delivering our photos to a client and dreading that email that says how much they hate them. We are still in the process of improving, constantly comparing our work to others, and because of the number of negative thoughts we have, we often feel like frauds.
Here is something to consider: can someone without confidence truly create? I do not think so, at least not anywhere near their potential. Will an unconfident person ever try something new? Will they take risks? Will they be willing to fail at something, learn from it, and improve? Choosing to settle with the identity that you are not a confident person is a sure way to fail to grow as a photographer. If this is you, and a lack of confidence has held you back, then you are not alone. The good news is, it is an issue that can be dealt with, and if you do it will directly improve your photography.
Where Confidence Comes From
“Have confidence!” people often say, as if it were so easy that you can just be told do it and it will happen. Trying to stir up confidence in yourself five minutes before a session with positive thinking is equally as ineffective, as it is not real, it does not last, and your clients will often see right through it. So where do I find confidence as a photographer? Confidence for me comes from many nights after a long day of work, and using my free time to study photography. Confidence comes from, instead of spending money on other things, investing in proper equipment so that I am prepared for any situation I might run into. It comes from knowing that I am capable of putting in more work before and after the shoot than any else is willing to do to take care of my clients. It comes from being prepared for each shoot in such a way that I am not overwhelmed when I have a client in front of me. Basically, confidence is not something I can just have. It is a product of preparedness, sacrifice, and putting myself out there enough to have a history of successes to look back on.
Preparation for Confidence
Some of you may say that you do not have a history of successes yet. The most anxiety I have ever felt in photography were the days leading up to my first photoshoot. I was determined not to just set myself up for failure, go fail, and then give up. I put a plan together that instilled confidence in me. First, I met with my client and really tried to pin point what she was looking for. I went to the location of the upcoming shoot and scouted out the lighting at the time of day we would be shooting. I noted specific locations and took some practice shots of what I was going for in each area. I then put together a backup plan of detailed poses that I could fall back on if I became flustered or nervous. Did everything go perfectly as planned? Of course not. What I did have, though, was something solid to stand on that helped me confront my doubts and put me in a position to succeed. I often hear that confidence breeds success. It may or may not be true. What confidence certainly does, though, is it puts you in a position where you have a real chance to succeed. It puts you in the room that the fearful are still on the outside of.
You Can Do This
Confidence gives you a greater chance of success. It really does. It allows you to try as a photographer, learn as a photographer, and fail as a photographer. Confidence is not a mystical power. It is not something you are born with. Confidence is work. It is the direct result of being prepared and making sacrifices to be ready for opportunities. I know that many of you have held been held back greatly because of this one issue alone. If you are lacking, you can do this. You can grow and improve on it and the effort will be worth the reward. Arthur Ashe says it well: “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”
Preparedness will give you a reason to take courage. Courage will lead to experience. Experience will lead to confidence, and confidence will give you an opportunity to succeed.