Updated: Nov 13, 2020
I decided to write this blog because I feel that its actually something that anyone in the creative industry has to overcome. It's also something not many people talk about. I wanted to share some of my experiences, and some advice as to how to overcome them.
I feel that self doubt is the greatest enemy of creativity. Those times where you just don't feel it. You don't feel like you have to confidence to even try and take those images, let alone share them. We all have those voices in our heads. This has been magnified in recent years with the explosion of social media. I'm sure we are all guilty of looking at another photographers work and feeling tiny. You look at your own work after, and start comparing it. That's one of the worst things you can do.
The only person that you should be comparing your work directly to is yourself. Look at your images, and look at your own personal progression. Sometimes, I even go to the same area over the course of a few years and compare the images I have taken. Compete with yourself and no one else. Don't expect a 100% improvement every time you take a photo either, just 1% is good enough. You do that every time you shoot and those 1%'s add up! Always be thinking what can I do better this time.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't look at other photographers work by the way. Looking at other photographers work is great for inspiration. Networking, and creating a community is an essential part of becoming a successful photographer. All I'm saying is stop comparing your work to theirs- compare your work to your work.
A lot of people doubt their skill set and their 'natural' creative abilities. I truly believe that photography is all about practice, its all about getting out there and taking as many pictures on a consistent basis as you can. I mean, if you know any successful photographer that hasn't been doing this for a long time, then let me know because I don't know any. As Henri Cartier-Bresson (widely regarded as one of the best photographers of all time) said "Your first 10,000 photos are your worst". I know looking back at some of the shots I took when I first started out, and looking at my shots now (7 years later) I can see a lot of progression.
Sorry I couldn't find any images in the same spot from 7 years ago but I hope that gives you a good example.
I know when you are posting your images publicly (especially for the first time) its a very daunting experience. I didn't post any of my images until maybe 2 years down the like and I regret doing so. There are a lot of people out there with a kind of condescending, sneering attitude that may give you some unnecessary, negative feedback. Those people are people to ignore, posting your images will give you valuable feedback (sometimes constructive criticism), gain some exposure and create a community around you. After a while other people will start to see your vision too, and people love to see someone progress too.
If you aren't sure about an image, I know I have been there too before- still do to this day. Test it out on a site like Gurushots, even do it anonymously if you want to. Sometimes the shots you aren't sure about are some of your best. See what feedback you get and don't take it personally if you don't fare as well as you thought.
That goes for any image you post anywhere. It's better to fail and learn than to not try at all. Your failures will become your success ultimately. I know when I started shooting I learnt to embrace my failures and see them as stepping stones. Just getting down about it and kicking yourself won't get you anywhere. Move on, and keep on working towards your goals.
Photography is like anything, the more you do it the better you will get at it. Practice makes perfect right? Well, that's one of the great things about photography- I don't think you can ever get to perfect. The industry is always changing and developing. There's always something to learn and you never want to be in a place that you think you have "arrived". When you start to develop your skills, one of the best things you can do is to reach back to others starting out. Pull them up with you, there's nothing more rewarding than helping someone else.
For those of you that are just starting out in photography, you're in a great position. Your progress will literally boom as you start out. Because you are learning new concepts all the time, your images will get better a lot quicker than someone that has done this for a long time. Once you have reached a reasonable level your progress will slow down somewhat. That's just down to the fact that once you have learnt all of the main things, it's all about making small adjustments and continuing to get better but at a slower pace. So people starting out; like seriously keep going because your progress will boom, and you will see for yourself how great you can become. You don't try and you'll never know!
Like I say just keep going and don't let anyone take you off the path to your goal. The anxiety of sharing your work is something we all have to deal with, and honestly don't let people get to you or stop you achieving what you want to achieve. That's ultimately what it comes down to. Keep your eyes laser focused on what you want to get and sooner or later you will get it.
Thank you for reading this post, I hope you found it useful. If you want to join a photography community full of likeminded people check out my facebook group here. I'd love to see how you are all doing and progressing, and if no one else thinks you can do it then I do.