Fears and Doubts
Fears and Doubts


This post. I’m not sure if it will ever see the light of day, but if you are reading it now then I found the courage the pull the trigger and share with you.

This post is about being afraid. About my fears as a photographer. They’ve been showing up A LOT lately. I don’t have a real beginning, middle or end to this post. I’m not sure this will be coherent to anyone but me (hence the reason you might not ever see it).

I have this theory about why the voices of fear in my head are louder today than they have been in a while. It is because I’m about to start doing something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time. Something that I’ve worked hard for. And now that it is almost here, fear is messing with my head. Fear is trying to get me to walk away from embarking on my dreams. Fear shows up when we are invested in something, when we care and when something really matter to us.

I’ve wanted to be a mentor and teacher of photography for a long time. I love the whole learning process, being both a student and a teacher. I get to be part of this amazing workshop, Ultimate Intro to Photography, that Courtney has put her entire heart and soul into over the last year. I get to share my knowledge with students who are wanting to better themselves as photographers. I could almost burst with excitement. I get to share my passion! I had no idea where I wanted this photography journey to take me when I started, but this is absolutely the path I want to be on.

So now that it is just about time to saddle up, my fear is tugging on my shirt trying to pull me back from the starting line.

These are the thoughts that seem to get louder as the days pass:

-Who do you think you are to be teaching? You still have so much to learn yourself.

-Your photos don’t look near as good as the other Mentors in the workshop.

-The students who get your for a Mentor are going to be upset they didn’t get Trisha, Beth, Allison or Laurie.

And you know who else has been showing up? Fear’s sidekick–Doubt.

-Doubt has been laughing hysterically at the fact that I wrote not one, but TWO, articles for Click It Up A Notch about Building Confidence as a Photographer and Part 2 and yet here am I am full of them with regards to myself and my work.

-Doubt has been saying  “Who is going to ever believe a thing you say again about photography if you publish a post saying you doubt yourself and you are afraid?”

– Doubt taunts “You are coward. You tell everyone you don’t have time to pull together a portfolio for juried shows.  But we know the truth. It is because you are afraid of being rejected and then these voices that say “you aren’t good enough” will be validated. So you don’t even try.”

Then comes Shame to round out the trio.

-Aren’t you embarrassed that you only shoot with one lens? And it is only the 50mm 1.8 at that? You can’t even take a photo of your lens because it is attached to your camera!


-Your workspace. Seriously? It’s dark and not color coordinated. You don’t work on a Mac like everyone else does.  You don’t have cute desk accessories. Or even a planner. You don’t use a planner?!! (Yes that is an Angry Birds cup and a new pack of toothbrushes…every successful photographer has toothbrushes on their desks, right?!!)


I wonder if others ever feel this way, too. I really don’t know that fear and doubt ever leave us. I think maybe they get louder and stronger as we get closer to the things that are important to us. I share all this with you not to fish for compliments or reassurance, quite the contrary…I share this because one of the best confidence boosters out there is finding someone else who knows those fears and doubts, too. Just hearing someone else say “Me, too!” can make these three shirk back into the darkness. So bookmark this page, this article, and come back to me next time you are feeling those fears creep in. Read my words again and take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. That while I can’t speak for anyone but myself, I think deep down fear whispers the same things to everyone at some point in their life.

I used to think that the opposite of being afraid was NOT being afraid. But I’ve come to a different conclusion based on this last battle with it. I think fear will always be there, no matter how many successes we have to our name, no matter how many Facebook fans we have, no matter how confident we are with ourselves.  I now think that the opposite of fearing is simply doing. It’s just showing up. It’s just doing what you are afraid of despite being scared.

How do you deal with self doubt and fear?

  • March 13, 2015 at 10:14 AM


  • March 13, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    Everyday! But I keep pushing myself to be better every day. I want to set myself apart from the “DVD” photographers and show that I am worth my fee! I hope its working.

  • March 13, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    This was spot on today. I am blessed to be surrounded by so many talented photographers who are willing and enjoy inspiring other photographers. Your words are poignant! Thank you and keep taking pictures.

  • March 13, 2015 at 10:23 AM

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to share. I feel it too, especially in the cold winter months.

  • March 13, 2015 at 10:24 AM

    Thank you for this beautiful post Brennan! I feel so many of these exact feelings and I wonder how often they stop me from reaching my potential. I love the community of photographers that I feel here, with a focus on learning and progression instead of perfection. Honest posts like this are a great reminder of the support we can be to each other.

  • March 13, 2015 at 10:39 AM

    I love you I love you I love you I love you. And I don’t even know you :). Thank you for pulling the trigger on this!!

  • March 13, 2015 at 10:45 AM

    Several years ago I found myself hired to teach a developmental writing course at a community college. I had a BS in anthropology and not an iota of teaching experience but the department chair needed bodies and seemed to think after an interview I was up to the task. To say I was scared is an understatement. I wanted to crawl under the bed and hide – I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing. A girlfriend sent me an email the night before wishing me luck and said, “If you don’t trip or throw up in front of your class, consider your first day a success. Welcome to teaching!” It made me laugh and was exactly the moment of levity I needed. I taught an assortment of writing and communication courses over the next 5 years before moving back to Texas. Sometimes I think acknowledging our fears out loud and facing them head on is the key to getting through it. This post not only helps you, it helps others think about fear in a constructive way. It’s okay to be afraid as long as we don’t let those fears and doubts keep us from going for our dreams. You so totally nailed that!

    I’m doing my first 365 this year for several reasons – one of which is to build confidence because I frequently doubt my abilities with a camera. Again, thank you for voicing your fears for the rest of us. We can all identify on so many levels.

  • March 13, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    Love this article! You wrote it at the perfect time for me. My fears are holding me back from doing what I’ve always wanted to do. Thank you so much for writing it!

  • March 13, 2015 at 11:20 AM

    You are not alone! I don’t have kids( unless you count four footed ones) my fear starts with just starting a website and finding out that my shots are not what anyone likes but me

  • abbie
    March 13, 2015 at 11:27 AM

    Thanks for the honest post! Sure can relate to it. And for the record I would be thrilled to have you as a mentor!!!!

    • Brennan
      March 13, 2015 at 12:16 PM

      Aww….this brought me to tears! Thank you for taking the time to write that. Just one little sentence is all it takes sometimes….you’ve totally made me day!

  • Maria
    March 13, 2015 at 11:29 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this as these are my thoughts exactly! Then I get frustrated with myself that at 40 years old I’m still scared…. I really needed to read this. :)

  • March 13, 2015 at 11:29 AM

    Yep. Me too!

  • March 13, 2015 at 11:51 AM

    Its like the same demon haunts us ALL!

  • Cathy B.
    March 13, 2015 at 11:59 AM

    “How do you deal with self doubt and fear?”…I try to deal with it as bravely and honestly as you do. They say, “everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
    Thank you for opening yourself up and sharing.

  • Cheri
    March 13, 2015 at 12:01 PM

    Thank you for sharing so openly about what so many of us (it seems to be a woman-thing) face everyday. We are our own worst critics…and sabotage ourselves in so many little ways each day. Your post helps others facing those fears and doubts know they are not alone…so thank you for that.

    I never write or respond to blogs…but, while your post was very accurate for me..and touched me…I mostly decided to write to let you know, that all morning I have been searching for new camera lenses..and trying to decide which one would be best for me…and your post has helped me make up my mind!!! This was a lens I have been humming and hawing over all morning, but by reading your post…my mind is made up!! So thank you for using just one lens!!

    • Brennan
      March 13, 2015 at 12:18 PM

      Haha! I love that! I LOVE my 50 1.8 to much…I can’t bear to even try another one! Come back and show me some shots with it once you get it!

    • Robyn S.
      March 13, 2015 at 1:46 PM

      Aside from my kit lens, the 50 1.8 is the only one I’ve purchased and I believe it is 100% worth it – I adore this lens.

      • Cheri
        March 13, 2015 at 11:14 PM

        Yay! Thank you, Robyn and Brennan…I have ordered the 50 1.8 lens…and can hardly wait until it gets here so I can play with it :)

  • March 13, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    I’m at fear right now in deciding to open my own photograph business. I learn everday something new. I don’t think I would call my self a professional photographer just yet. thank u for sharing, Great articles.

  • Tammy
    March 13, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    This is me 100% I still have so much to learn but love photography! I have stopped learning but it’s constantly calling me. There are many stumbling blocks I need to overcome and this has encouraged me to get back at what I love.

  • Kimberly G
    March 13, 2015 at 12:15 PM

    Thank you for writing this article. This is exactly how I feel and what thoughts go through my mind everyday. Sometimes when I talk to other people about it, they don’t understand and think I’m being silly and that fear is easily overcame – not so. I have been contemplating starting a pet photography business, but fear of failure and rejection keep me from it. It is comforting to know that others feel the same and it gives me the courage to try harder. It is almost discouraging when I see and read about photographers that are doing so well-it seems to be without effort (though I know it’s not), but it makes me feel than of an artist because I am not on the same level. Anyway, thank you!!!

  • rebecca
    March 13, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    Thank you for putting to words the silent struggle we share.

  • amber
    March 13, 2015 at 1:34 PM

    Really?!?!?! I just read this and think— wow! I wish I could write like her (you have a way with words), take amazing photographs like her, be as fun as she is with her kids, and be as cool as her! lol Yes, I have always thought you were cool- you have this cool aura about you. :) Anyhow, there goes the comparing… like you are comparing yourself to the other photographers/mentors. We all compare….. it is human nature. But one thing to realize, is while you are comparing yourself to others – others are comparing themselves to you. They feel the same about you, that you feel about them.

    But yes, I loved your raw honesty here about fear. Fear can be paralyzing and can absolutely stop us in our tracks and be a hindrance in pursuing our dreams. But I think fear keeps us honest and striving to better ourselves.

    But you are not alone… and I think as we get older we fear more… because we know the depth, we know loss, we know reality. Stay brave and continue to pursue your dreams because there is a reason you are there…. and you are that good.

    PS….. I LOVE how you said the opposite of fear is pursing the goals/dreams. That is absolutely true!

  • Robyn S.
    March 13, 2015 at 1:44 PM

    This is a truly honest and inspired post. I feel this way about everything, my mothering, my photography, my teaching (geography of all things!). But I would be lucky to have you as a mentor. One thing I’ve learned from my teaching is that while some students will take advantage of vulnerability (probably not in your case, but at my level), some students will allow themselves to open up to their full potential because if you did it, so can they. If you struggle with something and still are a productive member of (photography), then they can be as well.

    It’s also refreshing that someone who is a mentor has those struggles. I was shooting my friend’s daughter’s baptism. My first time shooting RAW and I almost canceled because I felt I would make horrible photographs. But, she has those memories now and they are not as bad as I thought they would be. Pushing through the fear helped me to gain confidence. And this blog post is further support to help me keep pushing.

    Thank you.

  • Silvina
    March 13, 2015 at 1:48 PM

    I do everyday and because of that I never did por found what I love until last year… and here I’m starting muy career un photography edition and retouch at 42 :) pretty scare but I love to do it and want to do it. So I’m trying to jump mover fears and doubts every single day… you’re not alone and you’re going to do it great!

  • Brittany
    March 13, 2015 at 2:14 PM

    100% yes. Almost every time I share a picture with my ‘friends’ I go through some version of: “Why would you post that picture? It’s not that good. It’s even a little weird. I bet people are going to think you’re trying to show off. Show off what? It’s not even good! I probably should have straightened it a bit more… Hmm, it looks a little blue on my phone. This is so stupid. If it stresses me out, why do I bother?? Maybe I should take it back down before anyone notices.” And yet I feel compelled to keep taking pictures, keep posting them, and keep showing up. Stupid fear!! Thank you so much for this; I’ll read it often.

  • March 13, 2015 at 2:15 PM

    OH MY GOODNESS!!!! That is me to a tee! Well, minus the fact that I have never written for any magazine, taught any classes or spoken at any retreats on photography. Other than that, the fear, doubt, lame office space, one lens, etc. Thank you so much for sharing this. Your class is one I would definitely take because you are real and maybe not as polished as the rest. You’re awesome! And now I am going to delve into some of your pictures to enjoy your work :)

  • March 13, 2015 at 2:25 PM

    Thank you. Thank you so much for choosing to be vulnerable and having the courage to be transparent and share where you are at, where you’ve been and where you are looking to grow to! It’s incredibly encouraging to know and remember, we’re all human and on our own journey. I just recently wrote about that very thing and this is just another reminder that I’m not the only one that sometimes struggles on my personal journey :)

  • Terry Lodise
    March 13, 2015 at 2:32 PM

    I feel like one of the greatest gifts photography has given me is how it has helped me grow, not only as a photographer, but as a person….overcoming fear & anxiety in so many areas of my life is a huge part of that growth daily.

  • March 13, 2015 at 2:52 PM

    Oh, my goodness, this post made me tear up. This is exactly how I feel today…fear and doubt. Thank you for publishing this post.

  • Cindy
    March 13, 2015 at 4:02 PM

    I think this is a great post. It clearly applies to photography but really is just true about life! I have some major life changes possibly approaching in the next few months and this perfectly describes how I feel as d-day approaches. We just need to keep encouraging one another to conquer those fears and doubts and we will all be the better for it on the other side of “the action.” Thanks for being so brave to put this out there!

  • Sheila
    March 13, 2015 at 4:16 PM

    I am 55 and I feel I have never reached my potential and probably never will because of fear. Fear of failure whether it be with my photography or music, has held me back. I am a good wife and mother, the only two things I am sure of. I am trying with my photography once again and have joined a photo club and just put my camera on RAW. Big steps. Thanks for your honesty.

  • March 13, 2015 at 4:18 PM

    I don’t see or hear fear… I see and hear humble! That is a beautiful gift, humility. I love that and I would LOVE to learn from you. This world is bogged down with self proclaimed experts that know everything and taught it to themselves. I think it is AH MAZING that you want to teach and still learn. Those are the BEST teachers! You come across very genuine… and that travels far and wide! Looking forward to your class :)

  • Kahra Gilley
    March 13, 2015 at 4:37 PM

    You are some kind of awesome! Thank you for sharing your heart, when most of us are afraid to do so! I think we all have some amount of fear that builds inside us! I know I can relate to everything you said! Have a wonderful day!

  • March 13, 2015 at 4:51 PM


    Thank you for having the courage to publish what you wrote! I found it very touching and voiced all the same thoughts that go through my head and I’m certain many others. There is comfort and strength in knowing that others go through this as well. May we all learn to turn our fears into fuel to push ourselves beyond our wildest dreams!!



  • Shannon
    March 13, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    So glad someone finally wrote an article about this!!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! I fear even walking around in public taking photos where other people may see me. I’m not a shy person. In fact, I’m an attorney who can get up in a courtroom and confidently speak for my client and have no issues there, but put a camera in my hand and I suddenly think “What will people think of me trying to pretend to be a photographer?” I’ve even asked a couple of people going down this same photography journey if they feel the same way and it seemed like no one else felt the same fear (or maybe were just hiding it). I’m trying to confront this fear head on by sending out a link of my photos from my 365 project to friends and family every month, but I’m not sure they know how to respond or that they even grasp the significance or know the fear that I feel in hitting the send button. This article was awesome! Also, because I too only have a 50mm 1.8. Thank you again for your brave words.

  • Liz
    March 13, 2015 at 6:20 PM

    Yip, me too!

  • March 13, 2015 at 6:44 PM

    Oh my goodness! I read this post nodding my head and all the while thinking, how do you know?! The weird thing is, I wrote a post about my fears too recently (https://swaytephotography.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/things-i-am-afraid-of-as-a-photographer/), hope it’s ok to share. I have been plagued with lots of stress and a low mood and the first thing to suffer will always be my creativity and I immediately start to doubt myself… every single time! I’m pleased you published this though, it helps me to realise it’s not just me, that we all worry and that it’s ok to worry. Thank you so much for sharing :-)

  • Tina
    March 13, 2015 at 6:49 PM

    Thank you for allowing me to feel NORMAL. Just wanted you to know that you are not alone. Fear keeps us from so many things……..things that we desire and things that we deserve.
    I will stand up and face FEAR in the face and feel triumphant ……..maybe tomorrow.

  • Tina C.
    March 13, 2015 at 9:07 PM

    Me too!
    Thanks so much for being so open and honest. I always feel like I’m not good enough or creative enough or have it together enough.
    And thanks for showing your work space…mine is usually the kitchen table (with all sorts of other stuff on it) or the sofa while we’re watching tv :-P ….
    Fear is a thief…don’t let it steal from you!

  • March 13, 2015 at 9:26 PM

    BRENNAN! I love this so much! Not only are you a talented photographer but also an amazing writer! This really spoke to me so much. I miss being in a class and shooting with you!

  • Jenni
    March 13, 2015 at 9:41 PM

    Me too! You pulled at my heart strings due to the fact I’ve felt like this for a long time not just with photography pursuits, but with many different aspects in life. Thank you for sharing x

  • March 13, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    Thank you for this very genuine post…so true that we all have fears and indeed knowing others have struggled with the same can be the very thing that makes us stronger. Thank you!

  • Heidi
    March 13, 2015 at 11:27 PM

    “Me too Brennan!”

    But seriously, I was recently invited to take photos of rescue animals at a shelter, but hesitate because I don’t think I’m “good enough.” I haven’t gone yet, but I recognize I just need to get over it.

  • Maryann
    March 13, 2015 at 11:40 PM

    Here it is… “ME TOO”! Everything you touched on is what I feel. So much doubt and fear. This brought a tear to my eye because it really hit home. I too only have one lens and it seems everyone else has thousands of dollars invested in their equipment. So I tell myself I’m not good enough. I think of reasons not to advertise my services for the first time. Who would wsnt to hire a hobbyist like me? What if the session goes horribly wrong? What if I can’t get a single shot? What if, what if, … Etc. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone. Thanks for sharing!

  • Cindy B
    March 14, 2015 at 12:06 AM

    WOW… I NEEDED this today. Thank you thank you thank you!! I have printed out the article and keeping it handy on my desk. Whenever those feelings creep in I always try to remember one of my favorite quotes: “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”….. I am SO guilty of looking at other photos and comparing them to mine and thinking that mine aren’t “good enough” and why in the hell am I posting pics on FB?? I chant that quote on a daily basis!!

  • Doreen
    March 14, 2015 at 12:26 AM

    Fear is good. It may not feel good but it’s good if that makes sense. I think when your good at whatever art you express yourself with whether your lens on your camera can be photographed or not doesn’t matter. If someone thinks your good enough to teach I suspect you could shoot pictures with a plastic box camera, the kind I got for Christmas in the 60s. A good guitarist can make the worst guitar sound fabulous and the most expensive Gibson or Martin will sound mediocre in the hands of someone who doesn’t play with soul. I don’t particularly trust people who are about to embark on a new adventure that aren’t scared and have doubts. We all have doubts. Creative people, if they are serious about whatever their art or craft constantly feel like they could do more, be more. I think that’s because we can and do keep improving. Doubts help us to improve. Only none of it hopefully overtakes us to the point where we freeze. There was a book written many years ago called Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. I suspect you will. I know I will.

  • March 14, 2015 at 3:47 AM

    Me too..

  • March 14, 2015 at 9:31 AM

    Oh my gosh I so needed this today! Thank you! I have been full of doubt lately. I just started offering my photography and I keep going back and fourth on my prices, thinking people just tell me they love my photos but why aren’t they booking appointments!?! You can drive yourself insane with doubt!

  • March 14, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    Thank you for this! I feel this exact same way every single day! You are exactly right-“Feel the Fear, and do it anyway”!

  • Loretta
    March 14, 2015 at 8:42 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing this!! I needed to read it. Yeah for you ‘telling fear and doubt to back off.’

  • March 14, 2015 at 10:29 PM

    What can I say? What can I say but, “Me, too.”

  • Maddie
    March 15, 2015 at 1:20 AM

    What a coincidence that I stumble across this post tonight while tearing up at my desk thinking about these exact things. I needed to see this. Thank you so much.

  • Stephanie
    March 26, 2015 at 7:51 PM

    As I am just embarking on my photography business journey, this blog post resonates with me so well! Thank you for sharing your fears and doubts. Also, our work spaces look awfully alike!

  • Ruthann
    March 27, 2015 at 4:31 AM

    Thank you, thank you for writing this. I struggle with the same things constantly.
    Comparison is powerful thing….it can trap you, and leave you feeling worthless and inferior. But that’s just it. It leaves you with that feeling, but that isn’t the truth.
    But it is oh so difficult to get past that feeling, and even when you do, it always finds you again. Thank you for being so honest and open. It inspires and encourages me to keep working at what I really do love. I always say “I’m not a photographer really, I’m just learning”…so I take pictures for free or almost free because I do not feel that my level of ability is worthy of payment. And I am afraid to even think of starting a business….I mean, who am I? There are real photographers out there!!! And I’m sure they would look at my photos and say “who is she trying to fool?” And then, as they say, the jig would be up!
    So thank you again! For putting my fears in front of me and reminding me I am not alone. A pastor I know once said in a sermon “Failure is highly overrated. Everyone fails…” and I think that is true. It’s how we learn and grow and find humility.
    From this moment on, I’m going to be showing up!

  • kim
    March 27, 2015 at 2:57 PM

    Like looking in a mirror. Thank you!

  • Julie
    March 27, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    Wow, this just brought me to tears! I had no idea I was feeling exactly the same way and having the same self doubt and fear. Thanks for sharing your story, it’s meant a lot!

  • Jessica
    March 29, 2015 at 9:26 PM

    It is always nice to know that I am not the only one who feels the same exact feelings and has those same thoughts! I have always loved photography, but am only now beginning my journey to actually become a photographer. Everyday I read articles and information to try to learn what I can (even without a decent camera at this point…) and I tend to get bogged down with the thoughts that I shouldn’t bother because theres already so many other amazing photographers out there, what could I possibly contribute to the field? So thank you for sharing. You have touched me, and encouraged me to stick it out and follow my dreams no matter what the voices in my head are telling me.

  • Els
    April 17, 2016 at 3:02 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this! My jaw dropped a mile. It was as if I was reading about …….. myself.
    I live on the other side of the world and am also writing a workshop for those who want to learn more about photopgraphy. I can totally relate to your feelings so thank you again for sharing this, at the same time it gives me a boost to carry on with my idea.

  • Catherine Armstrong
    February 25, 2017 at 12:51 AM

    Oh this is such a great article! Thank you for being so brave and sharing 😍 I just shot my nephews birthday party and I’m sitting here beating myself up for missing moments, not adjusting my settings correctly or only having a 50mm f1.8 lens (only lens i can afford). I have thought it would be fun to do more photo shoots of other people but feeling despondent about my work after this birthday party. I’m book marking this article.

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