Some photographers are born oozing with confidence and self-belief, while others hide their pictures away from friends and family and spend hours with editing software tweaking and adapting their shots. The more they tweak, the less happy they are with the results they get. If you are one of those photographers, don’t give up and put the camera up for sale; there are ways to build up your confidence and self esteem.
The first thing to remember is that you are learning, and we learn best by making mistakes.
Then, you must never forget that mastering any art is a lifetime’s work. I doubt that even the most highly regarded photographers working today think that they have all the answers. Part of the pleasure of photography is the fact that you are on a long path of learning and creativity and that you will develop your skills as you move along that path.
Finally, remember that photography is an art in which tastes and opinions vary, and so there will always be a subjective element when any photograph is being assessed. Some people will be rapturous over a picture that others merely find competent.
To develop your confidence, develop the ability to be constructively critical of your own work and that of others. Look for what has worked well, as well as things that could be done differently and perhaps better. Most people find it easier to identify their mistakes than their achievements, so look at the photograph as though someone else has taken it.
Learn about your camera’s features. Find out what it can do in each of its settings, rather than relying on automatic to sort everything out for you. You’ll need to learn by practicing, by reading, and by learning from others, through looking at photographs in the media and in exhibitions, and through either through joining a club or taking a course.
Many people find that joining a club is ideal. It provides the opportunity to pick up tips and hints from club members who may have years of experience, to see the work produced by other photographers (some of whom will also be new to photography and therefore less confident than you), and the incentive to learn and develop by entering competitions. There is nothing like having a photograph commended in a competition to boost your self-belief!
The precise mix of the above will depend on your preferred way of learning and the opportunities available near you, but you can rest assured that something suitable will be near at hand. Choose wisely and you will have an hobby for life.
About the Author:
Margaret Cranford (alecarte.com) is a photographer based in Clevedon, North Somerset.
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