Growing Confidence As A Photographer

in Picture A Day13 days ago

When do we become exactly what we want to be? There are some people who know precisely what they want and they go after it full tilt. Most of us are a bit less sure.

The age old question of "what do you want to be when you grow up?" is simple enough when we are a child, pick the thing you're really into at the moment, make it a career. Of course, some of us say we want a career as a dinosaur. Obviously, we grow up a little more and realize that perhaps being a dinosaur isn't so lucrative.

So we get on the hamster wheel of choice after choice, hoping that by the time we are "adults" we have finally found something we are both good at and enjoy.

That last part is crucial. I dare say a large number of people don't enjoy what they are good at. They do what they do because it pays the bills. Their job enables them to do something enjoyable with the rest of their time. They work so they can get old enough to not work and do what they actually wanted to do with their lives.

Life is a jumbled mess. We can't always be good at what we enjoy or enjoy what we are good at. Responsibility can paralyze us and force us to choose paths out of fear of failure. There are needs to be met, ours and others. Usually the material needs get put before the others and usually our own needs, both emotional and mental, get put on the back burner.

What does this have to do with photography? Well, not much. Except to say that I've been listening to a lot of podcasts about photography and business, and I have realized that my lack of confidence has kept me back.

I assume that I am not good enough to make it a career. But why? I have taken decent photos. Maybe even good ones. Why couldn't I make it a job?

While the podcasts are great and highly educational, they leave me realizing how little I actually know. I enjoy photography, but am I good at it? Judging by some of my most recent photos (not the ones posted here) I still have much to learn about the technical aspects of photography itself. My photos leave me feeling like a lackluster failure.

Maybe it's because I'm trying new things? I have yet to settle on a style. I experiment all the time. I play with new lenses and settings. I try turning my photos into art and NFTs. I play with old negatives. I've even bought eleven antique box cameras (nine of which still work) to get into medium format film photography (and in camera cyanotypes). Next will be self-development of the film.

Do I even enjoy photography? Or do I just enjoy creating? Sometimes the technical jargon makes my head spin. The cost of gear and the energy of trying to get the perfect picture every time can be discouraging. I'm always chasing something, pushing and pushing, looking at all the shiny new things I can buy or do.

Part of me says I should just stick to one thing and get proficient in it. The other part of me says trying everything and failing at most is the best way to grow. Even if I don't fail at most, I'm still going to learn what I enjoy or what I hate.

Can I make a career out of it? I don't know. Right now my bills are paid by literal sweat. I am good at what I do, and I don't hate it. But if I could find that elusive golden ring of something I'm both good at and enjoy, that would be spectacular.

All that to say: don't give up. It doesn't necessarily take perfect technical skill to make a career. Perhaps you (or even I) can make a career out of something that you enjoy. Keep trying new things and eventually you might find that elusive ring.

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