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Inside the Mind of a Self-Doubting Photographer


Photographer Taylor Jackson made this 7-minute short film titled “Bad Photographer” that may resonate with you if you find yourself often struggling with self-doubt and negative thoughts about your work.

The film was shot over 3 days in Iceland and is a look into the mind of a photographer who struggles with putting work out there and fearful of the negative criticism that may result.

After quickly receiving a couple of negative comments after posting a photo online, the protagonist (Jackson) spirals into “a waterfall of negative energy”:

“I am a fraud. I should not be a photographer. Everyone sees that, but only few are brave enough to say it. This is so embarrassing. Should I take the photo down, or am I just reading the words wrong? Am I really a bad photographer, so bad that I don’t even see it?”

These types of thoughts are common in the journey of growing as a creative. What should be encouraging to you if you struggle with them, however, is the fact that they may in fact be an indication that you’re growing in your skills.

Studies have found that it’s generally incompetent people who think they’re amazing, and that people are only able to recognize their shortcomings more as they grow in competence. This is known as the Dunning–Kruger effect.

In a study conducted by Canon back in 2016, the company found that 80% of people rated their own photography skills as “good to excellent.”

“People with a moderate amount of experience or expertise often have less confidence in their abilities [than beginners] — they know enough to know that there’s a lot they don’t know,” the TED-Ed video above states.

“It’s about the artist’s journey,” Jackson tells PetaPixel regarding his short film. “Overcoming negative thoughts, and doing what’s right for you. […] It’s a struggle all creatives have to deal with, and one that very few of us are comfortable talking about.”