Photography is an art form and so often misunderstood especially by family members and friends. They don’t understand your passion. They assume you’re going to starve in the process. They may never have seen your work and question whether or not you’re good enough. They don’t understand why you can’t just go out and get a “real job”! Sound familiar?
Scott Bourne and I, on the old GoingPro podcasts, talked a lot about surrounding yourself with people who have positive attitudes. You need to block out the “Negators.” No, it’s not out of Greek mythology, but it should be. Negators are people who are so unhappy in their own lives their only joy in life is screwing with yours!
The result is your self-confidence needs reinforcement. So, let’s come up with a few things to help you stay focused, pun intended. You know how to focus your camera, but do you know how to hold the focus on your career?
- Look at old images. Here’s an easy exercise and you’ll have a good time in the process. Go back and look at your very first images. It might have been a party you photographed, a landscape while on vacation or maybe just a few shots of the kids. Now compare them to where you are today. If you don’t see a difference, you’re in trouble, but most of you will see consistent changes in the way you compose and expose today. As you get more experienced, there should be some serious changes in lighting, composition, depth of field, and your overall creativity.
- Roberto Valenzuela suggested a terrific tool for practicing the craft on a GoingPro podcast once. He suggested you go back to the last wedding you photographed and look at all the bad images. “Look for what you missed and learn to understand why each image wasn’t good!”
- Enter some images in print competition. This is a personal favorite. Whether you enter prints or not, at least attend the judging at the next convention where it's open to the public. Listen to what the judges are saying about each print. Use their suggestions as guidance for your own work.
- Join your local chapter or guild of professional photographers. Sooner or later, everyone shares the same frustrations. A local chapter of other photographers becomes a support group and an essential part of your network. There’s a lot of good comfort in knowing your peers share some of the same concerns and frustrations.
- Join one of the better Facebook groups where there are groups of people with your same interests. I'm a co-administrator in Facebook Wedding Photographers and Advanced Wedding Photographers, and I'm amazed at some of the questions that come up and the way people help each other. There are also groups like ShutterFest, GoingPro, Gary Box's "Inside the Box," Jen Rozenbaum's Group, and the AIBP Members Group, just to name a few.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Sooner or later they’ll come around, but for now, those people who are throwing up the roadblocks need to be kept on the sidelines. The only thing they're contributing to your life is stress.
- Listen to your heart. Okay, it sounds hokey, but you know what you feel inside. You know what your gut instinct is saying about your passion for being a photographer.
- Don’t respond to trolls! When you do step out into the public forums and get shot at by a troll, don’t let yourself get caught up in the battle. Don’t respond. Your silence is far more effective at driving them mad!
“If you wait for all the lights to be green, you’ll never get started on your journey!”
Living well really is the best revenge!