For a lot of new photographers, the difficulty isn’t learning how your camera works, it’s gaining the confidence to do it. Anyone can learn the technical aspects of taking a great picture, but it takes a certain self-confidence to ask a stranger for their photograph, or put yourself on the line to photograph someone’s wedding.
Confidence is at the heart of all great photography, and in this tutorial we’ll share some simple ways you can discover your inner Cartier-Bresson!
01 Read tutorials
It’s easy to learn how your camera works, take pictures you’re proud of and then become complacent. One of the things that often holds photographers back is simply the assumption that we know enough to expect good shots.
Ask any pro, and he or she will tell you that the learning experience as a photographer is ongoing and there’s always more you can learn.
Read as many tutorials as you can. Study techniques in genres you’ve never shot before, and then put what you have learned from this into practice.
02 Test your knowledge
So you’ve read tutorials. Now you need to apply what you’ve learned to your photography. Test yourself.
Being sure that you have a good working knowledge of what goes into a particular technique can have a big impact on your confidence.
03 Positive feedback
While we wouldn’t wish to suggest you should go fishing for compliments, a little positive feedback from peers on your work can do a lot for your confidence. As your perception of yourself as a photographer improves, you’ll find your work keeps growing in kind.
Of course, we can’t always expect on people to give us positive feedback. We’re bound to take a bad shot or three! This is why it’s important to remember that negative feedback isn’t always a bad thing.
When someone is thoughtful and honest with you, take that as constructive criticism, free advice that you can learn from. Build on that, and your confidence will improve.
04 Look at your old work
Your work will undoubtedly improve over time the more you keep shooting, but sometimes the improvements are so gradual that we don’t fully appreciate how far we’ve come.
It’s always a good idea to take a moment every once in a while to look back through the images you took at the start of your photographic journey. Compare them to what you’re achieving now, and the difference will be quite striking.
Are your pictures heading in the direction you want them to take? Be confident that they are and press on.
05 Set yourself a goal
It might sound counter-intuitive, but listing out your weaknesses is a great step towards boosting your confidence as a photographer.
When you see the list spelled out in front of you, patterns might emerge, or a common theme throughout. Set yourself individual challenges to gain experience in each one.
Over time, you won’t just overcome that weakness but will turn it into a strength.
06 Photograph strangers
If you’re terrified of asking someone on the street if you can take their picture, rest assured you’re not alone. You may be the most confident person in every other aspect of your life, but when it comes to talking to strangers and putting yourself out there as an artist, many of us are shy.
However, you would also be surprised by how willing most people are to have their picture taken.
Approaching strangers on the street to take their picture can help you to develop these interpersonal skills, increasing your confidence in taking pictures of people.
07 Photograph your friends
One of the other challenges with photographing strangers is that it can be difficult and awkward to direct someone whom you just met how to pose.
A good way to practise this skill is to find a few willing friends. Ask them to pose in a number of different ways, experimenting with lighting and composition.
Not only will this boost your confidence in directing people to pose, but it’s an invaluable photography technique that will help you learn how to realise what you want to achieve from a shoot, whatever it is.
08 Listen to the professionals
Here’s something we often forget: professional photographers weren’t always pros. They were once like you, learning your craft, developing a style.
Each one of them went through periods of frustration and uncertainty as they tried to build their confidence and ability.
The great thing about photographers is that we’re all quite gregarious people and we like to talk about our craft.
You’ll find that many professional photographers are more than willing to share their experiences whether, you send them an email or ask them a question at a talk, or even via blogs and interviews.
09 Exhibit your work
There’s nothing quite like seeing your own work hanging up on the wall, and the only thing better than that is seeing someone else admire your image hanging up on a wall.
When we think of exhibitions we think of museums and high-end galleries, but any public space where you can display your images will give you a wonderful boost in confidence.
A local cafe, restaurant or art space, each one will likely be quite open to having new art work hanging on their walls, so it’s more than worth dropping in with a business card, or sending them an email.
10 Try a 360 or 52 week project
360 photography projects and 52 week projects have become very popular photo projects for new and enthusiast photographers alike.
It involves simply taking a photo a day for a year, or once a week for a year and can be extremely beneficial in help you to learn quickly and develop your confidence.
What’s more, it’s a very easy way to build up your photography portfolio!
11 Join a photography community
One of the best ways to gain confidence as a photographer is to speak to your peers, who have likely had had similar experiences and problems to you.
As well as learning from their experiences, you can share your knowledge and advice with them.
Over the course of these conversations we bet you’ll find that you know more about photography than you thought!