“Oh, I’m not that good.” A common comment that is thrown out when a photographer receives praise for the work they do. “There are many photographers better than me.” Maybe. But who cares? What is the point of being overly modest? Surely it’s a waste of everyone’s time. I suggest we throw it in the bin, instead opting to say “Yes. I am that good,” without worrying how others may react.
Time to Be Proud
Photography is hard work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a casual shooter, a strong enthusiast, or a pro — perfecting the craft takes a lot of energy. The objective of any photographer is to take good pictures. So, when you do that, it’s important to take pride in it. Having that confidence, that self-belief, does wonders for how you feel about yourself. Maybe you’re too worried people will think you’re arrogant if you confirm what everyone thinks about you (that you’re very talented). But there’s a difference between being arrogant and being respectfully confident in your abilities. To be arrogant is to not appreciate the support you have from others. It’s to ignore the contribution people have made to your successful journey. That’s different than having the awareness that you’re good at what you do.
Say you’ve put on a solo exhibition. You’ve taken years putting together a body of work, months promoting the opening night, and spent all evening networking with guests. You shouldn’t be modest about that. Don’t take anything away from it because it’s the polite thing to do to play it down. You should shout loud and be proud, owning it; you’ve worked damn hard to put it all together.
“To be arrogant is to not appreciate the support you have from others. It’s to ignore the contribution people have made to your successful journey.”
Don’t Allow Self-Doubt to Hold Your Photography Back
Self-doubt is a terrible curse on the mind. You may communicate it through modest language when speaking about your work. Self-doubt can come from comparing your work to others or from past experiences where you’ve hit hurdles. Because of that, it’s vital to focus on your own journey and try to remain in the moment in order to not let past experiences hold you back. If you find yourself suffering from chronic self-doubt, seek support from others. Listen to them. If they say what you’re doing is right then you’re on the correct path. Look at your favorite photos that you’ve taken. Sit with them and believe in what you do. Being modest only reaffirms what you think about yourself, that you’re not that good. Work on positive affirmations whilst looking at your portfolio. Lead with the mantra, “I’m a talented photographer and I’m proud of what I do.” Get some self-belief and get going with moving forward.
The Creative Mind Is a Sensitive Playground
Creatives face a lot of internal struggle and photographers are no exception to that. They are faced with creative ruts, a lack of inspiration, self-doubt, and a constant battle with becoming better. I genuinely believe each time we say, “no, I’m not that good,” we’re only giving our minds a mental scar. I have the privilege of speaking to many talented photographers. This community is full of wonderful people who work hard and create exceptionally inspiring work. As a collective pool of creatives, I want to say goodbye to playing things down. I don’t want to hear “no, no you’re too kind. I wish I were that good.” What I want is for us all to embrace our talent and come together, virtually and in real life.
I want us to be bold and say, “WE’RE TALENTED. WE’RE AWESOME. WE’RE GREAT AT WHAT WE DO.”