20 Ideas for Photographers to Help Build Confidence


© tashatuvango – Fotolia

Yesterday’s post on confidence was a beginning for this topic, but there are some other sources.

A few months ago we launched a new forum on Facebook called, GoingPro. The whole purpose was to get the help of a dozen or so of the best known educators in professional photography as administrators and  then do our best to help everyone with the challenges they have in raising the bar on any aspect of their business.

Looking over everyone’s comments about where they need help, it seems to be in two primary categories, building confidence and marketing. While I’d love to hit on both topics, no one post or one person could ever cover both…so let’s pick up on where yesterday’s post left off. 

  • Read your camera manual. Get to know every button and setting on your camera. Experiment with different settings, understand depth of field, know all of your lenses and the coverage each one will give you.
  • Attend every workshop you possibly can. 
  • Attend every convention.
  • Spend time in the booth of each vendor you use, including your gear manufacturers, lab, album company, frame company, software etc.
  • Listen to podcasts, webcasts, webinars on topics related to your specialty including those out of your comfort zone.
  • Understand lighting! Not just natural light, but all the various qualities and patterns of studio lighting.
  • Be a second shooter as often as you can, especially in your first few years.
  • Enter print competition. This isn’t for everybody, but it’s a terrific learning experience.
  • Attend print competition judging, even if you didn’t enter. You’ll learn a lot from the various judges.
  • Jump onto YouTube.com and watch the videos of iconic photographers in your specialty. There are ton of great videos out there, some long, others just a few minutes.
  • Look at magazines – this is about understanding what’s hot and what’s not. While it’s not a confidence builder on its own, paying attention to what’s going on in the commercial world is going to help you better interpret requests from your clients.
  • Join a guild, PPA chapter, camera club…and, go to every monthly meeting. This is about expanding your network and many of the camera clubs host some pretty remarkable guest speakers.
  • Rent gear you don’t have to experiment with and understand the impact it will have on your images.
  • Practice, practice, practice – but remember Roberto Valenzuela’s line…”Practice doesn’t make perfect. What if you’re practicing it wrong? Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
  • Talk your friends or family members into modeling for you. You’ve got to practice and often friends and family are the best way to build your portfolio.
  • Join some of the online forums that are in line with your specialty and your goals in professional photography.
  • Share images in the forums, but have a thick skin. Listen to the suggestions and ignore people who simply want to behave badly. Stay focused on those giving you constructive criticism.
  • Do a portfolio review. Many of the conventions and workshops offer portfolio review. It’s a great way to get an objective opinion on your work.
  • Hands-on workshops are one of the best ways to build confidence. Pay attention to the speakers you’ve heard the most about and then check out where they’re teaching. A great hands-on workshop means twenty people or less with one instructor.
  • Use your network – especially your inner core of the people who are closest to you.

One of the biggest challenges with a lack of confidence just comes from fear. The more experience you get, the less there is to be afraid of. Don’t let fear get in your way. Get to know your gear, the craft and listen to your clients.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience 
in which you really stop to look fear in the face. 
You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. 
I can take the next thing that comes along.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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