I'm reading The Magic of Thinking Big for the umpteenth time and just finished the chapter on believing in yourself. It's such a great idea to re-read the great motivational classic books! I get something new or a nice reminder every time!
While I was reading, I remembered something that struck me so hard when I was in my late 20s. I had a run of what I thought was bad luck – I got pregnant, my fiancé broke up with me and I had to move back to Michigan in with my parents. So there I was, a single mom with not much education. My dad gave me a job working in his software company. I had always been a waitress or bartender so it was my first job in a professional environment. Let me add that I was making $5 an hour but it was better than no job.
I was good at my job and after a couple years I got into the sales end. I didn't know much about sales but I worked really hard and studied a lot. As a single mom, I was always broke so I didn't have money for nice clothes. My dad gave me the advice to buy one nice conservative suit and a few blouses (which, by the way, is advice in the “Magic of Thinking Big”). I did well as a salesperson, mostly because I worked really hard. It certainly wasn't because I was good at selling! I was not and probably never will be the slick-talking salesperson who knows how to effortlessly guide the client into a big sale. But honesty, hard work and doing a few things right did well for me.
Chrysler was my account and I spent a couple days a week roaming through their massive information systems department, checking in on clients, bringing donuts, etc. There was a competing company with a salesperson named Vanessa (of course she had a sophisticated name). Vanessa was about my age, drop-dead gorgeous with a different expensive outfit every day. She had long gorgeous hair – something that will never happen for me with my straggly thin hair. I was always so envious of her!
One day I said something about how impressive Vanessa was to one of my clients whom I had grown close to. He looked so surprised and said “What do you think everyone thinks of you? You are always so well dressed, seem so successful and you are easy on the eyes!” Who, me? I sure didn't see myself that way! I was the waitress disguised as a business person in my one suit! But it hit me so hard when he said that!
Fast forward to today -- I have a nice successful photography business and training center. I see myself in so many young photographers.
I was working a charity event and met a new photographer who had just moved in to town. She volunteered for the catering company, took fabulous photographs for free and gave them to the catering company and charity. She started networking with other photographers in town and within six months she had a thriving business. I asked to interview her to show her as an example of doing things right to get your business off the ground. She refused, saying that she wasn't really that great and not qualified to be a role model! What? I watch HUNDREDS of new photographers try to get their businesses off the ground and fail. She would be such an inspiration!
Today I asked a photographer I know quite well to write an article on a type of photography that he excels in. He said no, he really doesn't do enough of that type of photography to write an article and suggested another photographer. I looked at that photographer's work and it isn't nearly as good.
Of course being humble is a virtue, but I think some of us need to ask our friends and family – what do people think of me as a photographer? You may be better than you think you are! Get past your fear and write that article or be interviewed when the opportunities come up.
On the other hand, there seem to be too many megalomaniacs (look it up) in the photography world. I see them in the Facebook groups exaggerating their successes and giving advice on things they don't really know much about. But they pretend, pontificate and “act big” as I used to say when I was a kid. They may have some talent but their egos are so out of whack that they are just annoying. And probably about half of what they say isn't even true. (If you feel superior and find the need to constantly give advice to others, you may be inflicted with this condition.)
How do you build confidence as a photographer? First of all, never stop learning to be a better and more creative photographer! Technical skill especially, will help you have faith in yourself. But don't stop there; learn the business side of photography, read motivational and self-help books. Take every class you can. Hang out with successful photographers. Find a mentor. Always be improving. You can do it!
~Peggy Farren is a professional photographer, instructor, speaker and the founder of Understand Photography Training Center. You can check out her classes here: www.meetup.com/UnderstandPhotography.
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Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, instructor, writer and speaker.
With over 17 years as a full-time professional photographer, Peggy offers photography training through her training center, “Understand Photography”.
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