Photographic confidence comes in ebbs and flows for many photographers. Not to be confused with a creative rut, photographic confidence relates more to not believing in yourself, even if you shoot consistently. It’s a horrible spot to be in and leads to many photographers giving up. But I don’t want that to happen to you. So, in this article, I’m sharing some tips on regaining and maintaining your photographic confidence.
Want to get your work featured? Here’s how to do it!
What Is Photographic Confidence?
A photographer’s confidence is something I have thought about a lot recently. Naturally, it’s much easier to speak about it from my perspective, so please, stay with me as I share my experience.
Since the pandemic began, although I created more than ever, I didn’t believe in what I was making. Everything felt like autopilot, and lacked feeling. It wasn’t from a lack of ideas: I had no issues there. I just stopped believing that what I was creating had substantial value.
So, what happened? Well, the human mind is a fragile thing. And it can be difficult to understand why a level of confidence suddenly disappears. It’s also unique to the individual. For me, I think I was experiencing some low-level depression, which led to me doubting myself, my convictions, and my abilities. While not directly because of photography, it certainly had a domino effect.
Another reason I think my confidence faded is because of how long I’ve been shooting—14 years in total. I know people think confidence comes with experience, but time can also lead to self-doubt. Why am I doing this? What am I doing it for? Who am I doing it for? When you struggle to find answers that were once clear, confidence can take a nosedive.
But then my confidence returned. It wasn’t by luck; I had to take some steps to regain and maintain it. You can implement all the steps below too, and I’m confident they will work.
Create Video to Regain Photographic Confidence
Video and photography are heavily linked, yet very different. Either way, it’s the process of creating content that’s important here. By trying a new, but similar discipline, you can enjoy the process of learning again. And when you start developing your skills, your confidence will begin to grow. Connecting to the feeling of confidence will trickle down into other areas, and that belief will no doubt spill over to your photographic talents.
It worked for me, and in a recent interview with Amy Lombard, she shared how creating video also had a positive impact on her relationship with photography.
Speak to Other Photographers
When we run low on confidence, many of us are guilty of keeping it to ourselves. Don’t do that. Because sometimes we can think we’re the only person in the world suffering from this. Speak to any photographer, even the most seasoned, and you’ll soon learn you’re not alone.
Don’t be afraid to ask for some advice. One of the best pieces of advice I got from a photography friend was to stop being so dramatic. “You’ve achieved a lot, and that’s for a reason. Confidence comes and goes, big deal. It will be back.”
It sounds dismissive, but they were right. I was making such a big deal about losing my confidence. And I acting like a victim. All I needed to do was accept it’s part of life, stop complaining, and find some constructive ways to get it back.
Review Old Work
If you’re a long-time shooter, you likely have archives of photographs on a hard drive or in the cloud. Look at them. Think about a time you were brimming with photographic confidence, look at the photos you made, and connect to them. You’re working against your mind here, so you need to trick it and make it reconnect to the feelings it had when you were firing on all cylinders. That’s why archives are a wonderful tool.
Ask Yourself an Important Question
When we first fall in love with photography, we imagine it will last forever. For many of us, it does. However, for others, it may just be a short-term fling, a whirlwind romance if you will. So when your confidence is low, ask yourself if you still love photography, or are you doing it out of habit?
Sit on that question, and take time to think about the answer. If it’s a habit, then maybe it’s time to put the camera on the shelf. You’ll either pick it up one day or decide to give it to someone, so they can continue the passion you once had.
There’s no right and wrong answer. The right thing to do is find the truth and aim to understand what’s going on with you.
Have Faith in Time
Above all else, believe in the process of time. Often there’s no direct solution to improving your confidence. Again, the mind is a beautiful and complex creature. One day it functions one way, and the next, it functions another. Patiently waiting for your mind to figure out what’s going on can be the best thing you can do.
Remain consistent in your practice, experiment with the steps above, and have faith time will restore your confidence to what it once was. Photographers can be sensitive souls who tend to panic when creativity and belief aren’t peaking. Don’t worry, have faith in your ability and everything will be fine.
What has helped you overcome low photographic confidence? Let us know in the comments below.