I remember a time when someone, a friend or an acquaintance would see me with my DSLR and say “Nice camera! Are you a photographer? I’d get so embarrassed and feel a bit of a fraud. I’d mumble something about being interested in photography but “I wouldn’t call myself a photographer….
You see I had been practising and practicing but I wasnt happy with the results. I wasn’t seeing what I wanted yet. I felt like I was a fraud, a wanna be photographer and I was overly self critical. Imagine a baby learning to walk, she’s tottering along, trying her first few steps, falling over and getting up again. Do you think she is telling herself how stupid she is each time she makes a mistake? Beating herself up because she got it wrong? What a ridiculous idea! Yet thats what we adults do when we are learning a new skill, we make a mistake and we think “I am so stupid! Look I made another mistake”! We tense up in fear of making a mistake before we’ve even make one!
I spent a couple of years thinking this way before I realised that it was holding me back. I was comparing my work to work I saw in magazines and thinking “I’m not good enough yet” Ironically if you keep telling yourself you’re not good enough yet or your not ready yet then you postpone the day you will be good enough indefinitely! Because you keep on pushing that day off into the future.
Slowly but surely I began to see that if I wanted to be a photographer – and I wanted it so bad and still do – that I needed to work on my beliefs, I needed to change them. Do you know what belief is? Belief is just something you tell yourself over and over until it becomes part of you, part of your identity. When that happens you stop thinking about it – thats the function of belief – to abolish thinking!
If you’re telling yourself you’re not a real photographer or not a real writer or artist then guess what? You are going to struggle, you are going to feel like a fraud. I began to tell myself I was a photographer. When people asked Are you a photographer”? I’d say “Yes I am a photographer”! I told myself I am a photographer over and over, I told myself I am a confident, successful, knowledgeable photographer over and over and especially when I found myself thinking in a negative, self critical way.
Now just to point out the obvious here; you still have to practice, you have to work at it, you have to do it and never give up, it has to become as important to you as breathing is, something you not only want to do but something you HAVE to do! Every time you get knocked down or something doesn’t work you get up, dust yourself off and keep going.
Next time you find yourself mumbling “not really” when someone asks are you a photographer answer confidently “Yes I am”.
Stop comparing yourself to someone else! Always be the best version of yourself that you can be not a half-baked imitation. Pay attention to the way to criticise yourself and your work, would you speak to your children that way? I hope not.
This is not a competition, it’s a creative process, a never-ending journey. We do this because we love it, because we have to. So savor it, enjoy it, love it!
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