Note: This article is from https://digital-photography-school.com by Branson Quenzer
Having confidence exudes confidence, but where does real confidence come from. Well it doesn’t just come from nowhere, that is often called arrogance. It comes from the awareness of your emotional state relative to your cognitive abilities.
If you use your emotions to create, you are being confident. If your emotions are overwhelming you during your shot or photo series, you are likely under-confident. By the book, you may know everything there is to know about the exposure triangle, rule of thirds, color theory, etc., but when you are actually shooting do they do more to help, or do they hinder you?
Confidence is a delicate balance between what you know, and how well you are capable of performing. So let’s look at a couple of examples and analogies to help build your confidence as a photographer.
#1 – Confidence isn’t always consistent
Real confidence is never consistent, and has its slumps. Professional sports is a great example, even superstars have an off night.
So when you have an off night, remember another night is just 12 hours away. If it is the morning, it is still 12 hours away. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day, so don’t beat yourself up. In the short run you may have really blown a photo shoot, or missed the animal of your dreams because you were not being conscious about your settings, or you were simply absent minded. But that is the short term, and as long as you get right back out there, the better off you are going to be.
The best of the best all fail, but what keeps them on top of their game is the arduous task of owning up to being human, and going out to find a solution to your goof. In the long run, they will be memories that you get to look back on with a laugh.
#2 – Learn from your mistakes
Few people are perfect photographers from birth. Generally, talent comes through sweat, tears, and sometimes even blood. If you make mistakes you can learn from them. Confidence has a conspiracy with failure. So take two steps forward, and one step back. Stay committed, and speaking of commitment and blood, I am not the only photographer who has taken a tumble, and when people ask you if you are okay, you respond with, “Yes the camera is fine”, while your knees and elbow are bleeding.
#3 – Be vulnerable
Enter a photo contest, and don’t expect to win. It is a final process of completing the photography and artistic conceptual circle. Letting your photo hang on a wall, while others look at it, even for a few minutes, is a scary prospect for some. But think of leaving your freshly baked pie on the dinner table, and just looking at it. We don’t do that with food, nor should we do that with our photography.
People will love it, like it, dislike it, or downright hate it, but that doesn’t mean you are wrong. It means you have succeeded in making the photography world just a little more interesting. You also never know who you will inspire. Your vulnerability will soon become a strength that will help build your confidence.
#4 – Learn from others BUT don’t compare yourself to them
There is a world of knowledge available, and many people who you can learn from. Use them, ask them questions, share ideas – but don’t compare yourself to them. Generally when you compare your own work to others, it may leave you with a sense of there’s more to be desired, and a sense of failure. So learn from their perspectives, their tutorials, and their stories, but don’t get caught up in who is better.
A happy photographer is the best photographer. Furthermore, over time you will begin to see the merits in some of your earlier experimental work. Perfection is not the goal, it is the journey to becoming a more enriching photographer.
#5 – Avoid gear envy
There will always be something bigger and better, wait another year and the next new version will be out. So don’t get intimidated by other photographers’ gear, and more importantly don’t let your photos depend on your gear. Think of it as a challenge.
A small trick I use when the next new thing comes out, and I get in that spiral of getting all gear-junkie about it is to look at some of the classic photographers from 100 years ago or read up on some color theory. This gets me back to the basics, try it yourself.
So if you realize that every showing will not be your best, you can get over thinking that your gear dictates the success and failure of your photos, if you can start to learn from your mistakes, and begin to hang photos on a wall – then guess what? Your confidence will begin to grow, you will have more control (and more power) over photography (situations, light, camera gear, etc.). As your confidence grows it builds and builds on itself.