Cultivate Confidence ~ A Photographers First Steps

Growth is hard. It takes time, there is some struggle, and often there aren’t any clear guides to tell you what to do next. I know so many photographers who get stuck in one place for a long time simply because they don’t know how to take another step forward, and how to grow their skill to a new level. While I tend to have an analytical mind for these things, I’ve even struggled with being stuck in a growth rut too! Through those moments I’ve tried to remember these core points- one way or another, these have helped me think about the structure of my growth and what I can do tomorrow to learn a little more. Jot ’em down, think about them for your next session or creative process- promise that this will help you see some things you can improve, try or value more as a special skill that sets you apart from other ‘togs!

EVERY SHOOT IS A PLACE TO LEARN

I imagine each session or wedding as a time to learn new things, not a test I have to ace. This immediately takes the pressure off because it gives me room to try things and take it slow if necessary. When I give myself permission to try (and even fail) during a session, I am giving myself permission to relax and enjoy my time. Confidence grows when you begin to relax! It’s okay to feel nervous before a wedding or family session, but after a while, in the business, it’s not healthy to feel this every time. Start each session with a pep talk to yourself about everything you will learn and experience, not about what-ifs or perfection.

HAVE TAKE-AWAYS

Don’t we notice things about ourselves or our gear during a shoot? Sure. And then most of us forget by the time we’re packing up. Not only do I think it’s essential that we’re aware of ourselves during a shoot, but we need to remember it. Here’s why: As soon as I get home, I grab a notebook to write down things while they are fresh in my mind. In one column, I write down the things I would change next time. Opportunities I didn’t take, ideas I didn’t capitalize on, equipment that would have solved a problem, etc… in the other column, I write down my strengths. Did I manage my time well? Did I seize a passing idea and get an amazing image out of it? Did I do a good job of directing poses? These things are important to notice in myself because I need to know where my specialties lie. I also need to know what to work on next time.  You can’t change or appreciate anything you don’t notice! Without giving yourself a pat on the back, you’re only criticizing yourself. Those aren’t the steps towards the confidence we are looking for.

HAVE DEFINED GOALS

That list helps me choose 1 or 2 key weaknesses to prioritize in my next session. It doesn’t help us to stumble through hundreds of things we know we should be doing better, we have to channel our attention to one or two things if we want to see solid improvement. The first couple things I worked on was being clear in the way I directed my clients and remembering to notice how their hands were placed in a pose. After two or three sessions I had these things down pretty well, so I moved on to the next thing on my list, like being aware of my surroundings/details. Doing this moved me from nervous/anxious before a shoot to excited/confident! It put the control of my skill back in my hands, not in my circumstances.

If these strike you as helpdful, lemme know how you’re doing and what you plan to do next in the comments;)