I am convinced that there is one thing — truly, just one thing — that makes all the difference when it comes to building a photography career (and then some).
Wondering what that is?
It’s believing in yourself. Truly. No self-help, cheesy believing in yourself, either… but the true-blue, legit kind of self belief that empowers you, that gets you out of bed in the morning, and that encourages you to challenge yourself and to grow.
Here’s the thing: when you can’t believe in yourself, nothing else matters. You can’t go after what you want, you can’t stand up for yourself, and you can’t start to create a career you’re really proud of.
And that would be a shame. A big one.
See, confidence and self belief are not easy. I don’t think that they’re things a lot of us come by naturally, and taking the leap to start a photography business is SO scary. A scroll down Instagram or a look through an inquiry box that’s not as full as you’d like can turn on that self doubt switch… and fast.
But, we owe it to ourselves to keep the switch off. We owe it to ourselves to grow as photographers by growing as people, too — and that all starts with the heart that’s beating underneath your hand when it rests on your chest.
My biggest regret as a photographer
When I look back at my photography business over the years — starting at the beginning and going all the way until now — there’s one regret that pops up more than anything else. It’s not the blurry photos, or the “ehh” shoots, or the jobs I took that I shouldn’t have.
It’s the lack of confidence that I had at the beginning of my career, and the time I spent feeling like I was unworthy of success.
When I first started photography, I knew one thing: that I loved what I was doing. But, I had also struggled with low self confidence and feelings of unworthiness for years… and starting a business made all of that come back full force. I nestled myself deep into my comfort zone and spent a long time just waiting for things to fall in my lap because I was scared to go after them myself… and I spent a lot of time like that — just waiting for the jobs to roll in, for the clients to reach out, and for my life to change.
Then, I realized that I was the one holding *myself* back. I didn’t have the confidence to put myself out there and work for the jobs and the life I deserved, because I didn’t realize that I deserved it yet — even though I always really had. Once I started putting myself out there more, approaching business from a perspective of worthiness and empowerment (even though it didn’t feel natural at first), everything changed for my business and me.
How to ditch the self doubt and lean into the worthiness
There are a lot of things that can be transformative in growing a photography business, but I can PROMISE you that there’s nothing as transformative as realizing how incredibly worth all of it that you are. Confidence doesn’t come without practice (LOL, I wish), self worth doesn’t magically appear and stay with you forever, and imposter syndrome might just be a lifelong struggle for you. That’s okay. It is for me, too. But I’ve done a lot of things over the years to help myself ditch the self doubt and lean into my own worthiness, and I want you to do the same. Here are some of my favorite self confidence tips for photographers (that you can implement in any and all areas of your life):
1. Rewrite the narrative in your head.
Self confidence and a lack of feeling worthy are big things for a lot of people — and they’re often rooted in trauma and childhood experiences and allllll sorts of fun other things. But, regardless of how your lack of self confidence and worthiness came into being, it’s in your head… all the time. You have a narrative going on in your own mind that tells you that you can do better or be better (and not in a good way), and rewriting that narrative is key to moving on from it. The key? Trick yourself into it.
Does it sound cheesy? Maybe. Does it work? Absolutely.
Try one of these, and just focus on reprogramming those thoughts into something else — something that reminds you how proud you are to have you.
- Every *single* time you get a job, speak this out loud: “I am worthy of this, this client is excited to work for me, and I am so proud of myself.”
- When you start to feel less than enough, write down 3 things — immediately — that you’re proud of yourself for.
- Visualize your dream career, and remind yourself that you can get there if you ditch the negative self-talk.
2. Find out why you’re standing in your own way.
Getting to the root of a belief is really the only way you can dig it out, stems and all — and that’s why you absolutely *have* to uncover where your lack of self confidence is coming from. By being able to find out why on earth you’re standing in your own way, you can get the hell OUT of the way — and prevent yourself from moving back over. One of my favorite ways to do this is to do an old-fashioned journaling session, and I encourage you to do the same thing.
These prompts are super helpful, and you can go in as deep as or as surface-level as you want. I just challenge you to answer them anyways. If you’re not into journaling, move through these out loud (by yourself or with someone else), meditate on them, or simply give them a little thought. It matters, and it works:
- What’s the first moment I remember feeling unworthy or unconfident?
- What are the triggers that make me feel unworthy in my day-to-day life? In my business?
- When I envision my dream life, where does unworthiness or a lack of confidence fit in?
- What am I really, really good at doing in my business?
- When was the last time I was really proud of myself? When do I want the next time to be?
3. Keep learning and growing and practicing your craft, no matter what.
One of the best, most effective, and most powerful tools you have for feeling more confident and more sure of yourself + your photography is a constant, constant push towards being better by learning and practicing every single chance you get. Whether it’s recruiting your roommates to try out a new shoot idea or it’s spending a few hours working through new techniques, focus on constantly learning. Always working to be better makes you better on a visceral level, and it reminds you how good at your job you really, really are.
If you’re ready to dive into mastering your technical skills, building a next-level portfolio, AND uncovering who you are as a photographer, my course — The Photographer’s Path — is meant for you. We’ll work together alongside an absolutely incredible community to hone your craft, to improve your confidence, and to keep learning together — and it’s literally a step-by-step, skill-packed guide to help you build the photography career you deserve to build. Join the waitlist here.