Three Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Become A Better Photographer
When it comes to photography, I really do believe that we’re our own worst critics, constantly making things more complicated then they should be and not taking action nearly often enough. Because of this, it can be easy to get stuck and lose direction, questioning the choices we make and our ability to create meaningful work.
I’m a huge believer in the importance of feeding your mind the good stuff on a daily basis with the goal of living a better life. So that being said, below I’ve listed three mindset shifts that I’ve found to have a HUGE impact on my growth as a photographer.
1. You’re Already Better Than You Think
I wanted to start here because this really couldn’t be more true. We like to beat ourselves up… every single one of us!
Even if we’ve been shooting for twenty years we constantly suffer from “imposter” syndrome — a phenomenon that motivates us to treat ourselves as if we’ve only just started and somehow lack any useful experience, skills or advice. It’s a shame because this often causes us to ignore the immense value we can offer others.
We sit at our desks contemplating pushing the publish button for a new image or blog post in fear of being “found out”. The chatter in our head probably goes something like this: “I know as soon as I post this that they’re going to come after me. They’re going to tell everyone I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m going to be found out!”
When the shares and likes don’t add up as quickly as hoped, we confirm our imposter thoughts with ourselves and temporarily abandon any future goals.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments
A lot of this is due to the fact that wins are often short lived. A lot of people tend to dwell on their failures for a lot longer then they celebrate accomplishments. They power through the tough times with the belief that they’ll eventually reach a place of mastery and bliss all while ignoring the goals they achieve along the way.
And by goals I don’t mean “Photographer Of The Year Awards” or $3000 print sales. I’m talking about any sort of progress whatsoever. Things as simple as learning a new technique, or getting a compliment from ONE person.
You need to celebrate wins, no matter the size, as they’re what truly provide the satisfaction along the way. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t pumping out front page 500PX images daily, or don’t have a million Facebook followers, in the bigger picture, or throughout “the journey”, those things really don’t matter.
2. It’s All About Individuality. There Are No Rules!
A couple of months ago a post appeared on my Facebook timeline from a fellow photographer listing a very specific set of rules. He had essentially created an announcement that apparently all beginners NEEDED to read.
In this post he listed a bunch of rules to follow for processing images such as how greens shouldn’t be neon and skies shouldn’t be overly dark.
The post was both comical and frustrating.
First off, who cares what other people choose to do with their images. If there was in fact a set of rules we needed to abide by then all we would have is a gigantic collection of photographs that all looked identical!
The beauty about photography is that you’re free to do whatever you want with your images, and each one is a representation of a moment that YOU experienced, not someone else!
The important idea to grasp is that you need to make your own choices on how your images look based on how you interpreted the moment and what feelings you want your audience to experience. If that comes in the form of a dramatic sky or boost in saturation then so be it! Your style will change over time.
Not everyone will agree with it nor should they, but it will be a unique piece of work that you created, and that’s all that matters.
The old “straight out of camera” comment that a select few photographers seem to be proud of is truthfully a strange one to me. If you want to leave your creative decisions up to Canon or Nikon engineers then so be it, but if not, embrace your options and have fun creating unique work!
3. Enjoy The Journey
The important thing to remember is that during the journey there is never a finish line. No matter how many people call themselves “master” photographers, that simply isn’t true, as there’s always a new approach waiting around the corner and an opportunity to grow.
Sometimes it’s easy to lose grasp of what’s actually important in life. I look at photography as an activity that’s motivated me to take risks, make new friends, visit amazing places, experience unique moments and ultimately gain a better appreciation for the simple things.
Unfortunately, like with all creative endeavours, there’s always going to be jealousy and competition. Why people choose to get into heated debates and arguments, or criticize others for their photographic decisions is beyond me.
The Best Way To Grow Is Through Practice
Sometimes I think people take themselves and their work way too seriously and start to lose sight of what’s actually important.
Now I’m not saying that things need to be incredibly positive every step of the way or that constructive feedback isn’t valuable to growing as an artist, just make sure not to get sucked into the wrong group of people when searching for advice or opinions.
I’ve seen people on numerous occasions get into arguments online about differences in opinions when it comes to personal choices. Not just small debates, I’m talking multiple paragraph responses trying to push their point across. I always look at these as gigantic wastes of time and energy that could have been spent actually shooting.
The sooner you realize that being a photographer doesn’t have to be about competing or abiding by the “rules”, the quicker you can enjoy the journey and all the moments that unfold along the way. The best part is that it’s totally up to you which route you take, but trust me the grass is greener over on this side!
Why Do You Photograph?
In hopes of helping you reflect on your own photography goals and values, I’d love to hear some of the reasons why you pursue photography? What has it done for you? What do you value most? What are some of your most rewarding moments?
Feel free to comment on this post, share your thoughts with the NPP Community in the comment box.
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