You know we’ve all got a confident side and a not-so-confident side of our personalities. Let’s develop and strengthen the confident side. Here are 10 points on how you can gain confidence to know you’re ready to make money in photography. Follow these 10 points. You’ll gain a lot of confidence. Don’t listen to that other side of your personality.
#1. Streamline Your Equipment
The lie: You can’t shoot without all the latest equipment. You need all the good stuff. I mean, how are clients going to trust you if you don’t have a lot of equipment. You need equipment. If you don’t have the equipment you can’t shoot.
You only need a certain amount of equipment to be able to make money in photography. You don’t need a huge amount of equipment, just a few simple things. A camera and a lens to start with and a few other basics. You only need 6 things to be able to make money in photography video. That’s it.
#2. Photograph Friends and Family
The lie: That’s going to make me too uncomfortable to try to ask the people I know to take pictures. What if they don’t like my pictures. I don’t have to see them all the time. I don’t know, maybe I want to do products. I don’t want to shoot people. It’s just too uncomfortable.
To gain confidence and start to make money in photography, start by photographing all of your friends, your children, your friends, anyone that you know. As you take pictures of the people around you and you do it just for fun you’re going to start to create portfolio pieces. You’re going to start to create images you can use to show the type of work that you want to do and it’s going to give you confidence.
The more times you photograph, the more confidence you’re going to gain, and if it’s in a no-loss situation where you’re not really getting paid, it’s going to give you confidence to know you can do it when it’s time to get paid.
#3. Show Off Your Images
The lie: I don’t want to show my pictures to anybody. I just want to be able to look at my pictures myself. What if they don’t like them? What if they say things about them I don’t like, you know? I don’t want to show my pictures to anybody.
Show your images to other people either in a photo class or a photo club or some kind of a Facebook group. Show your images and get feedback. As you get the feedback you’re going to get confidence. You’re going to say, “Oh, I understand what I can do better. I understand what I did. It was really good.” And that gives you confidence to move forward. Show your images.
#4. Create a Portfolio
The lie: It’s too much work to be able to put things up on the website. I don’t even know how to do that anyway and it’s going to cost me money. And I’m not ready. My images aren’t ready. I don’t have enough good images. It’s just, I don’t want to put together a portfolio on a website. It’s just too soon.
Create a portfolio with your images. What’s a portfolio? It’s a website where all of your images are together. Put your very best images up there and then get rid of the ones that aren’t as good as you get better images. But seeing a body of work is going to give you confidence to start to charge money.
You can let people look at that when you think the time is right. But you have to get a body of work together. It gives you direction. It gives you vision. It helps you start to feel like, “I can, I know I can do this. I can do portraits, I can do product work.” You start to see it develop and it gives you confidence to keep shooting more, so create a website.
#5. Accept as Many Shoots as You Can
The lie: I’m not going to shoot anything that comes along. I want to shoot for people who really understand my style and they want to do what I like to do. Those are the people I want to work with. I don’t want to waste my time on dumb things. I want to shoot the cool stuff.
Shoot anything you’re offered. Don’t turn anything down. Now if morally you just don’t think it’s right for you then don’t do it. But don’t do it because well, “I don’t want to shoot mufflers”. I shot mufflers for a long time before I started doing my large-set production work. But it gave me confidence.
I started to shoot and get paid. I was shooting images and getting better. My skills were getting better. My confidence was growing. Be prepared for that time when they’re going to ask you to shoot something you’ve never shot before. Be confident you can do it. Do the research. Find out what you need to do and then go and do the job.
I know a comedian who said she was offered many roles in sitcoms but said no to every single one of them because she didn’t think they were good enough or right for her. In the end, she never did a sitcom. She missed out completely.
Don’t turn things down. Do everything you’re offered and that’ll help you move forward and gain confidence.
#6. Keep Moving Up
The lie: But I’ve got great images like travel images I shot when I was in Tibet. I have to have those in my portfolio because they’re just cool. They just show my personality. It doesn’t matter if they match my portfolio because I want to do fashion. It’s just, it’s cool stuff, you know. So I’m going to put up whatever I want. Let me just show anything that I have.
Your goal is to move up every time you do a job. You want to find better jobs. But keep doing those jobs. Don’t turn things down but look to move up and do better work. If you don’t want to do mufflers, which I didn’t, you could do two websites, one for weddings and one for mufflers. You can have different places that show your work. Just attach your name to the one that you want inevitably to be your look and your work and the type of work you really want to do. But your goal is to try to look to move up.
Try to move your clients up. Try to find better clients. Your goal is to find a better job. Every time you move up to a little better job your confidence goes up. You’ll be going, “Wow, I’m able to do better jobs. People are looking to me for work that is better. That is a confidence builder.
Look to move up and give yourself a pat on the back every time you do move up. Take a moment and glory in that. Know that you’re moving up and getting better. That’s going to help you gain confidence.
#7. Spend 50% of Your Time Looking for Work
The lie: My work comes to me by word of mouth. People tell other people. That’s how I get my jobs. I’m not going to call people. I’m not going to spend time looking for jobs. I’m a creative person. I need to be shooting. I need to be doing the cool things that keep me creative and not have to look for work.
Spend 50 percent of your time looking for work. How does that give you confidence? Because you know that work is going to come. There’s a possibility for work to come. If you aren’t looking for work then you sit there going, “How will I ever get a job?” and you start to collapse in on yourself. But when you’re looking, then you feel hope like there’s going to be jobs that are going to come. You feel like things are going to happen.
Photography is a lot about looking for work and running a business and not just taking pictures. You’ve got to concentrate that 50 percent of your time on looking for jobs. And your confidence goes up every time you spend two or three hours in the morning looking for jobs. You sit down and feel confident that things are going to come. Confidence comes from looking for work.
#8. Find a Mentor
The lie: I got this. I know what I’m doing. I don’t need other people to tell me what to do. That just doesn’t make any sense. I know what I need to do. I don’t need mentors. You know they don’t understand me. They don’t understand what I need to do. It’s just, it’s not for me.
One of the greatest ways to gain confidence when you’re in a creative process is to find a mentor, someone who’s going to help you to move forward. It makes you feel confident that you can face the challenges that you’re going to encounter because you have a person to go to who’s going to help you overcome those challenges. You can create a mentoring group. A lot of people are at the same place in this process.
I was learning how to do bees and I connected with another person who was at the same level as I was, but at least I had someone to talk to. He would say, “Well I read this and I read that.” We were able to talk with each other.
I know really high-end business people who have million-dollar businesses and who are making millions of dollars a year and they still mentor together with a group of other business owners so they can trade ideas and get confidence in that experience, so find a mentor. Create a mentoring group that’s going to give you confidence and help you to move forward knowing that you can overcome the challenges that you’re going to face.
#9. Show Yourself You Can Do This
The lie: It’s just too hard and it’s just too hard sometimes. I just don’t want to. I don’t want to do it. It’s just too hard.
Know you can do this and then prove it to yourself. You’re going to need to change in this process. As you go through the years there are going to be times you’re going to need to change your portfolio and your point of view. Maybe even what you do. I changed from doing stills to a lot of video. But just have the confidence that as you keep moving forward that things will come. Things will happen.
You just have to keep moving forward and prove to yourself every day you can keep doing this. Don’t give up, keep shooting. As you move forward you’re going to gain confidence that you can change, adapt and move forward with the industry. And that’s going to help you stay on top of it, make money in this industry and have a lot of confidence.
#10. When Discouraged, Go Back to #2 and #7
When you get discouraged refer back to number two. Start photographing. Maybe you’ve progressed enough in your career that you can photograph the models and the locations and make better work, different work, something interesting. As you photograph, as you shoot the doors will open for you and work will come.
I always refer back to #2, which is to continue to photograph, and #7, which is to start looking for clients. If you do those two things you’re going to have confidence. You’re going to move forward even when things get tough. Stop listening to that negative side of your personality. Let confidence take over. Do these ten things. Refer to them often. It’ll help you to grow and feel more confident and you’ll be successful in this experience.
I want you to be successful. I want you to feel confident. It is one of the hardest things for creative people, to continue to feel confident. Do these ten things every single day. It’ll help you have confidence to know you’re ready to make money in photography, and you can continue to make money in photography.
About the author: Jay P. Morgan is a commercial photographer with over two decades of experience in the industry. The opinions in this article are solely those of the author. He teaches photography through his company, The Slanted Lens, which runs a popular YouTube channel. This article was also published here.