I began my Photography business in 2011 and the thing that plagued me for a very long time is insecurity. Comparing myself to other photographers was my constant challenge. I would do lots and lots of research to improve my skills and knowledge, but in the end I would be left feeling like I am not a “real” photographer. Having the feeling everyone is better than I am.
I got more and more business, but soon started feeling less and less creative. I eventually became bored with typical park portraits. I did some soul searching and started to transition my focus from typical park portraits to “In-Home Story Telling Sessions” and “Sunset Lifestyle Sessions”.
This change in style felt like a good fit for my vision, but some people were resistant to change. I tried to develop a somewhat thick skin and tried to not take it personally when people didn’t hire me because my style wasn’t their version of a typical family photo. But I did take it personally.
I kept second guessing myself, my work and my pricing. And I think the hardest thing for me was I didn’t really have true goals. So without a clear target to shoot for, I was just shooting aimlessly….unfilled and a serious lack of creative confidence.
Read more – 5 Ways to Build Confidence as a Photographer
Around the same time, my dear friend, Sylvia Hall, began her journey to becoming a Life Coach. Some people are just born with a gift for something and Sylvia has truly been born with the gift for coaching and inspiration. Through her I started to see everything in a completely different way. A powerful line she would say is “Your thoughts create your emotions”. When I first heard that I thought it was silly.
Over time and reflection, I began to understand the phrase more and what it means. YOUR THOUGHTS CREATE YOUR FEELINGS. WOW! I kept saying I wasn’t that good. Which was the thought. So conclusively I felt like I wasn’t that good. I saw this trend with many things. I had been telling myself I wasn’t good enough for years! Now I understood. My neural pathways were ingrained, and prevented my ability to have confidence and security. My thoughts had convinced me.
After all, I had many many years of not being accepted from family who were supposed to be closest to me. So it started to make sense. I always told myself I was never quite good enough. My own mother didn’t want a relationship with me, and in my young mind I couldn’t help but think I just needed to be a better person so she would love me.
Through a lot of tough coaching and getting to the the root of my deep issues through many exercises, I was able to shed so much of that personal sadness of wanting to be loved/accepted. I finally came to a place in my heart and mind where I could let go of the emotional tethers and feel relief. What I needed to do was to nurture my inner space so I could grow.
I was given an exercise to draw myself as a big strong tree, and label all the roots with positives about myself. It took me a while to come up with honest descriptors. But doing this helped me to visualize myself as a strong person deeply rooted with these truths. So when I get tested by someone rattling my tree, I am not shaken because I am conscious of my strong foundation and understanding of myself.
As soon as I started redirecting my thoughts and really believing, “I am good” “People love my work” “People love ME”….I started to feel a change. A big change. I started feeling GOOD! I started feeling, dare I say, “Confident”? Yes, exactly. I was feeling confident. More confident than ever. I started asking myself, “How do I want to feel?” I created a list of feelings like “creative, inspired, confident, sexy, photography-master, a BOSS”, and I started feeling the words throughout my body even more I wrote about them and thought about them.
I was creating new neural pathways and everything! I noticed a huge difference in myself. Other people started seeing the difference in my outlook on life. I started having a more confident attitude each day. I was more positive and excited for life. I started walking into sessions like I owned the place. Which really helped my clients feel at ease. Their own nervousness faded with my relaxed, confident nature and I handled my sessions like I imagined myself: like a pro. It was a drastic change from the old me who might need a Xanax to get through a tricky session.
As I was growing as a person, I was also growing as a Photographer, I became more and more creative. I started seeing things differently. I kept (and still do) my camera close at all times. As I was documenting my everyday, I started to realize something about how my style started to form. But, still wasn’t sure of exactly what that style was. I just started noticing more consistency.
As I began to be comfortable with this new confidence, I realized I have had a goal since I graduated college in 2005. I have intended to produce a collection of photographs for a gallery show, but I nearly buried that goal over the course of hashing through my personal growth, and growth as a business owner. One problem was that I never knew exactly what my theme was going to be.
Also, I always felt very stuck and just not good enough. And even despite my new-found confidence in my client work, I didn’t think my work could hold a candle to what other photographers were displaying in galleries. I didn’t feel “artsy” enough. I felt strongly that I needed to have some sort of profound meaning to my work. And that my work needed to make people think deeply, etc.
The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.
The hunt to uncover those jewels- that’s creative living.
The courage to go on that hunt in the first place- that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.
The often surprising results of that hunt- that’s what I call Big Magic.
It wasn’t until recently that I started listening to a podcast called “Magic Lessons” with Elizabeth Gilbert and then reading her book, “Big Magic”, that a huge wave of confident creative inspiration washed over me. And I got it. The big idea. The idea I have been waiting for and the confidence to know that I can do this.
I feel an incredibly strong connection to her message. And it felt like she gave me permission to do this. To put myself out there, and try this idea that has actually been right in front of me all these years. One of my biggest take-aways from listening to Liz Gilbert’s podcasts and her book is that you just need to start doing. You don’t necessarily have to have your perfect idea to start.
Ideas will find you if you just start doing and they can gradually shape themselves. This is exactly what happened to me. Through creative writing I began to culminate all these feelings of childhood. I also noticed while editing my personal photographs, the photos that jumped out to me always had a specific feeling of childhood.
That’s when I realized that all along I have had a central theme that I can tie into a gallery show, “The Feeling of Childhood.” Capturing this theme really resonates with me. With my idea, I am looking at it like a hunk of clay. I am going to gradually mold and sculpt it until its perfect.
And that is the beauty of Art. There is an excitement now, feeling sure that I will get rejected a few times, but knowing that it is all part of the process and knowing that I won’t give up this time. I feel like a force now.
I am in my 6th year of my photography business and have finally “let go” of what everyone thinks. I now feel confident and comfortable I am doing what I like. The best reward for just being yourself and true to what moves you in your business is having clients tell you how much they love your work and want you to capture their family.
The best feeling is when clients completely trust you and your creativity. The feeling that I trust myself is the ultimate feeling to my creative confidence.
Get a pretty and inspiring journal. I write about how I want to feel. I write about what inspires me. I write to help center me back to my creative vision. To center me back to my best self. Writing words on paper ignites my soul. Total Zen Zone!
Make a list of how you want to feel. How it would feel to feel those things. Focus on one word and really think about how you would feel if you were to achieve that feeling.
When I run, it’s spiritual. I have my music cranked up and I feel like I am floating. After a run my mind feels elevated. It’s amazing what exercise does for my mind.
I realize not everyone is into running, so I urge you to move your body in whatever way you like, but just do it. More serotonins equal more creative juices! When I haven’t ran for awhile I get grouchy and uncreative, which makes me even more grouchy. Ha!
Avoid drama by nourishing relationships through acceptance rather than judgement. Acceptance is a positive emotion. Sometimes it is hard to accept things people do.
Rather than spend a lot of time letting drama affect you, just understand that you cannot change someone. They are who they are. Focus on who you want to be and how you want to feel.
Check out Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert or other books about creative thinking/living. Listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast “Magic Lessons”. It is a serious game changer.
- No.06Pursue other creative outlets
Creativity is fluid. Don’t feel locked into just photography. Sometimes doing something else will trigger a creative thought and give you a big idea. I got my big idea from journaling and writing.
- No.07Limit Social Media
I really feel like Facebook zaps my creativity faster than anything. I get on information overload scanning my feed of random political rants, people selling products, peoples memories, etc. If I want to stay focused, I need to stay sharp in my creative mind.
- No.08Just DO!
You don’t have to have the perfect subject or the perfect scene. The more you practice the better you get. I start out a lot of journal entries with “I don’t know what to write about but I am writing, and I am writing, and writing”; and what do you know, in pops an idea!
- No.09Consider a Life Coach
You will be amazed at how much you can change your life given the proper tools from an expert! Sylvia was pivotal in my life change. Through her I started to see the world differently. The way she thinks and approaches life is extremely inspiring.
It has taken me awhile to figure out what works for me. But through these steps I am able to achieve creative confidence by living a creative lifestyle. I hope I can inspire someone else to achieve their own creative confidence. This means owning your creativity… Feeling like a boss. Believing your art is your own unique beautiful gift to the world. Allowing no one to make you feel insecure.