6 ways to build confidence as a photographer

1. Embrace who you are as a photographer and realise that your work is unique and special to you. You may find that you are drawn to a certain type of photographers' work and even attempt to emulate their style (which is how most photographers learn), but there is always going to be a part of you that comes through in your images that says "YOU!" So don't be disappointed if your work doesn't look exactly like your favourite photographer - you have not read the same books, attended the same workshops or online courses, and nor have you had the same life experiences with all your personal likes / dislikes, etc., so little wonder your work is never going to be exactly the same.

I personally love light, bright and pastel-style photography, but my own shooting style does not suit such being deeper in tones and shadows. Once I accepted my work would never be light and airy (only took me two years!!!), I finally felt liberated to develop my own personal photography style.  I really can't stress this enough, "embrace who YOU are as a photographer and realise that YOUR WORK IS UNIQUE AND SPECIAL TO YOU!" Once you accept this, you will give yourself permission to develop and enjoy your own style which is what differentiates you from the crowd. 

2. Practice, practice, practice!  The only difference between a new photographer and a professional photographer is dedication and practice.  Reading tutorials, shooting, editing, taking workshops, etc., all help towards becoming a better photographer when mixed with lots of dedication and practice. Embarking on a project - whether a Project 365 (see 7 reasons to undertake a Project 365) or some other photography project can also:

  • Advance your learning experience. 
  • Give you a sense of personal achievement on completing each new project.
  • Enable you to look back and evidence your progress - all of which are real confidence boosters!

"You need to be content with small steps.  That's all life is.  Small steps that you take every day so that when you look back down the road it all adds up and you know you covered some distance.  It took me a long time to accept that, but it's true.  You need to have patience." - Unknown author

3. Try different photography genres.  There are countless to choose from including photo journalism, architectural, lifestyle, macro, shooting for black and white images, candid, food, on-camera plus off-camera flash (OCF), newborn, family, still-life, architectural, street, documentary, travel, fashion, equine, landscape, night-long exposure, fine art / conceptual, sport, pet, wildlife, studio, on location, natural light, continual lighting, etc. 

Know what type of photography you want to learn and mix this with additional "add ons" e.g. macro, OCF, etc., to compliment your work and make your images much more varied and interesting.

4. Know your limitations and stick to what you can handle - you will be much happier and confident as a result!  A lot of portrait photographers believe they have to enjoy shooting all types of people photography, e.g. babies, toddlers, teens, families, etc., but this is simply not true!  I love babies and toddlers, but I don't enjoy photographing them - at least not when working alone.  Why?  Because it's exhausting trying to juggle backgrounds, lighting, settings, etc., whilst at the same time trying to hold a little one's attention.... practically impossible in fact!  

These kind of situations shake your confidence and can even make you doubt your ability as a photographer!  Know your limitations and stick to them until such a time as you feel you can cope with additional pressure or can afford an assistant!  These days, I find it much more enjoyable photographing older children (5 yrs +) and families, plus young adults, etc., because such is within my capability when working alone. 

5. Show encouragement to other photographers.  We all like it when our photographs are featured in a competition, or a well-known website or popular blog.  It feels good to be recognised for our work, but it feels even better to pass on this kind of compliment to another photographer!  

Start by "liking" other photographers pages.  Compliment their photos. "Encouragement is holding up a positive mirror and showing someone what they already are or have the potential to become" -- Dettie.  I read a quote recently which said: "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle"-- Anon.  By making a good photography friend (whether online or otherwise) you can encourage one another and share photography tips and insights which will help each other's growth. 

6. Take an online class, attend a workshop, or join a local photography group.  Sharing your work through workshops and / or classes is a great way to connect with fellow photographers who are interested in furthering the same skill-set as yourself. 

I have taken several courses and have formed lots of friendships online as the result of sharing our learning experience together.  We continue to be a part of each others journey even long after the class has ended and I can depend on them to provide both encouragement and constructive criticism when I ask them for help.  Surrounding yourself with a supportive group of photographers does wonders for your confidence.  

Please feel free to share this post, or leave a comment below if you like. I'd really love to hear from you and learn about your journey to finding your own personal photography style or any tips and encouraging words you'd like to share :)


Jillian said…
Thanks Wendy for sharing these tips and such a beautiful collection of images! So happy that we have met through our shared love of photography! Look forward to seeing many more gorgeous images from you and sharing the highs and lows of life together :-) x
Likewise Jillian! Love your latest collection of photos - amazing work xx
Anonymous said…
Really helpful. Thank you.
Wendy said…
Glad to help Anon.