Dealing with imposters syndrome is no joke. It can hold you back for years. But how do you know if you are dealing with Imposter syndrome or just a case of beginners nerves? In todays episode you will find out!
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Full Episode Transcription:
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Raymond: 00:00 Hey Raymond here from the beginning of photography podcast. And you know, van Gogh is arguably one of the most iconic painters of all time. He painted every day, and in the last two years of his life, He created 2100 pieces of art, including 860 oil paintings. That's almost three pieces of art every single day. Van Gogh died. A poor and unsuccessful artist. Okay, let's get into today's episode.
Speaker 2: 00:30 Welcome to the beginner photography podcast with Raymond Hatfield, the podcast dedicated to helping you grow your photography skills. Raymond interviews the world's top photographers in their field to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now, with you as always, husband, father, Ho brewer, La Dodger Fan, an Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield. You guys, welcome back to this next
Raymond: 01:00 Episode of the beginner photography podcast. I am a Raymond Hatfield, your host, and man, I don't know what the weather's like. Where you are right now. You know, in Australia there's like bats falling out of the sky because it is a, a hotter than it's ever been. And yet here in here in Indiana, we reached negative 12 yesterday, which, you know, doesn't seem like that bad for years past. But with the wind chill, it was like negative. It felt like negative 36 degrees, which is just, I'm over it. That's all I can say. I am over it. I'm done with this weather. I, it's no fun. It's no fun. I had a couple who wanted to go out for snowy engagement photos last weekend and it was it was too cold. It was too cold to do it. I, I, I did like, I would be fine going out and doing it even though it wouldn't be fun.
Raymond: 01:57 I just, you know, didn't want to have them go out there and then have something go wrong, like my camera or something fail and that would, that would just be terrible. That would be terrible. So I, I made the decision to tell them like, Hey, look I would be more than happy to do this, but I'm not sure that the equipment would you know, handle negative, you know, such such cold temperatures for prolonged periods. So how about we just hold off until the next time it snows? And they were, they were more than happy, you know, with doing that. So that turned out okay, but turned out okay. But t today, I guess I'm changing gears real quick today. First of all, I opened with, with that little piece about Van Gogh for for one reason and I think that it pretty well sums up exactly what today's episode is about.
Raymond: 02:48 And that is w we're talking about feeling inadequate as a photographer. And that's, you know, whether that be in the art of photography or in the business of photography. A lot of you listening you know, are, are, are new to photography and trying out new things and, and just trying to get an understanding of your camera and what it does and others have aspirations of being in business. And there, there's a few things that I'm going to touch on today that you know, we'll, we'll, we'll, we'll satisfy you as well. You know, Vango started painting. I did a little research on him just for this episode. Vango started painting at 16 years old. He had painted every day for his life after that point and got exactly zero recognition for his work until his death.
Raymond: 03:46 And if, if, if anyone must've felt inadequate, it had to have been him. He had tried so hard and he had wanted to be a commercially successful painter. That was, that's what he was trying to do. He had worked every single day of his life and God's zero recognition for his work. And I think, I think as an artist, at some point, everyone will, will feel this way, including you. It's, it's something that is just human nature. We always want to compare ourselves to somebody to do some thing. And it's just inevitable that at some point in your career or life, you will compare yourself and and draw the, the, the, the, the short stick as they say when it comes to the comparison. Now it it. Here's the thing though is that I think it's really important to figure out exactly what it is that you're feeling because it may be the feelings of inadequacy, right?
Raymond: 04:48 But it also could be just beginner nerves. And today that's, that's what we're going to talk about. We're going to kind of talk about the two different things because a feeling inadequate when you're an absolute beginner is it's pointless. It's totally pointless because you are going to be growing like, like you shouldn't be expected to know everything. And the notion that that you're just going to walk into something brand new and just master it is ridiculous. So figuring out what it is exactly that you're feeling is going to be important. And some of these feelings that you have could be a number of different things. It could be that you feel like your work isn't quality enough to start charging money when you first get started. You know, you, you, you love photography and you want to get out there and you want to shoot and you have these aspirations, rational photographer, and then you start looking at professional photographers website and you, you start thinking like, my, my work is not here.
Raymond: 05:57 I don't, you know, I'm not, I'm not this good, so maybe I can't start charging money. And that's, that's like a psychological problem that, that a, that a lot of people face. But here in a minute, hopefully I can dismiss that and, and help you out a little bit. Something else that you might, that might cause feelings of an adequacy is, is seeing another photographer with just a much larger social following. That is something that easily there was just a report that came out the other day that Canon dropped. One of, it's a professional, you know photographers because they didn't have at least 50,000 followers on Instagram. So there's this, you know of course it's nice to have a large social following, but having a large social following doesn't mean that your work is, is that much better than, than everybody else's.
Raymond: 06:58 But I could see how you could feel that way. And then I'll, I'll be honest, I've felt that way before. Another thing that you could be feeling inadequate fours that you see another photographer who is doing, you know, quote unquote better than you. Maybe they're, they're booking more clients or they're you know, just, just successful in business. You see right there always at these events and, and they seem to always be booked up and yet you look at their work and it's just nowhere near, you know, the quality that that you shoot that that's a serious thing. That's also a serious thing. Don't assume that because somebody is a professional photographer that their work, you know, that there's a correlation that, that their work is just, you know, exponentially better than yours because oftentimes it's not. And then lastly, you could be feeling inadequacies of of that the creative gap is too large.
Raymond: 07:54 And the creative gap, which has been talked about on the show several times, most notably by mark Silber back in, I believe it was episode 67. The creative gap is when you have an idea for a photo in your head and you see it, you see it vividly and then you go out and you go to take that picture. And when you look in the back of your camera, it's just garbage. You've tried your hardest, you get up there and you shoot it and he just cannot get what is in your head to to translate on in a photo. And that can be devastating right there. You know, we're, we're in this age where unlike ever before, we see a thousand different types of photos every single day and that is great. But we're faced with all of those photos, makes us aware and compare ourselves to those photos.
Raymond: 09:01 So now instead of, you know, flipping through a magazine, like national geographic or something, maybe back in the day you know, you see a handful of photos and you think, wow, these are really great photos. Well of course they are, that, you know, they're in a magazine, like these photographers are like the world's best. They gotta be. Now that's just not the case. There's, there's, there's less gatekeepers, there's no gatekeepers. You can just start posting photos to Instagram and if the world likes them, like they're gonna explode, like they're going to be popular, that account is going to be popular. And it's easy to compare yourself to that because you know what, the next photo on your timeline is going to be. Another example of that. And you're just going to think, why me? Why me? So it's easy to feel inadequate in that, in that sense, you know, for, for several reasons.
Raymond: 09:55 You know, like that touches on like what I said earlier, maybe somebody has a larger social following than you. Or that somebody work, you know, you look at their work and you're like, wow, this work is way, way, like out of my league, like way better than you know, anything that I'm doing. You know, what am I doing here? What am I doing for me? I think my, my biggest I don't want to say vulnerability cause it's not really of a vulnerability but, but what really, you know, grinds my gears. And really gets me questioning myself. And, and, and, and the business side of things specifically is that there is a photographer local who I know who,
Raymond: 10:46 There they're w their work is very poor. It's, it's
Raymond: 10:51 Lots of amateur dis mistakes, right? Extreme Wide Angle Lens. Like almost to the point of like Fisheye and all the photos seem to be crooked and when you're using a fish eye, like it's all magnified. You know, like you can really tell that a photo is, you know, off-centered lots of, you know, heavy vignette. That's another thing that I did, you know, when I first got started you tried to highlight the center of the photo. Like this is what I want you to pay attention to. And you use such a heavy vignette that it doesn't even matter what your composition was because the vignette is just going to remove everything, distracting and just, just focus on whatever's in the center. And then their photos are often very underexposed, but in like a really weird situation, almost as if, you know, looking at it they're shooting an auto or something. I can't put my finger on it, but [inaudible] it, it drives me crazy because, because despite all of those things, they are on every single like high end venues preferred vendors list that drives me crazy, crazy. You know, I, I sit here because they are always like booked solid. Like years out, they're on all these high end a vendor preferred vendors list. And their work is, is something that that has a lot to be improved upon.
Raymond: 12:37 But still, like I, I look, I look at at work and if I'm being honest with myself, I would hate to shoot the way that they do. I love being a technically competent photographer. I love knowing my settings. I get excited when I pick the right exposure, right? Like when I choose it right. And I nail it, I get excited. I love trying new things and you know, wowing my clients when I take a photo and they, you know, have something that they've never seen before, like a new technique or, or, or a light painting or something that, that they've never been a part of before. And then, you know, to add that on top of their wedding day, it just gets them so excited. Like, that makes me happy. Right.
Raymond: 13:23 And even though the, you know, that photographer may be much more successful than I am when it comes to business, my work makes me happier. And I think that there's a lot to be said for that. Whenever I get down on myself, I really have to stop and remind myself that, you know, the quality of your work does not predicate
Raymond: 13:51 The amount of, you know, business that you're going to get. And who knows, who knows? That other photographer may be looking at their work and, and, and, and feel inadequate about their photography. Right? Maybe they got the business side nailed down and they look at their work and they think, you know what, I'd really love to learn how to use off camera flash. I'd really love, you know, and to to be able to, you know, do this other technique or, you know, this, that, or the other thing, you know, who knows the grass is always greener on the other side. Like they say, everybody feels inadequacies no matter, no matter what it is. And if you're feeling that right now, I just want you to know that it is totally normal. Like it's absolutely normal. It is in our DNA to feel inadequate about ourselves.
Raymond: 14:36 Gosh, that sounds horrible. But when it comes to photography, I think that it's really important for you to figure out what it is that you want out of photography. So maybe if you're just getting started, you know, just a capture of the kids, you know, take great photos of the kids. But as things move on, that's going to have to be more well-defined. Do you want awards and recognition for your work? You know, for the photos that you take, is that what you want? Do you want to to enter your photos and competitions and just get awards left and right? Is that what you're going for? Is going, is pursuing photography all about money for you? And I don't mean like in like a like a, Ooh, I'm just in it for the money, but like are, are you, you know, people's financial situations are different.
Raymond: 15:35 And photography is, is something that you can pick up with a relatively low investment and you know, make a pretty fair amount of, you know, money. And if that is your motivation to get into photography, that's fine. You know, that's totally fine. You just have to, you have to own it, you have to figure out what it is and then you have to play to that. But may the, you know, w w would you be happy? This is the other thing, right? So the first one would be, are you looking for awards and recognition or, or are you, are you looking to make money or are you looking to take photos for yourself? And this one's Kinda hard to define because I like to think about it is, is if that's what you're looking for, would you be happy taking photos for the rest of your life that nobody saw? Because that's kind of what this is about.
Raymond: 16:36 It's easy to think like, oh, I want to go out and like just take beautiful pictures of my kids and, and like, I just love these photos and that's, you know, that's great. You go out there and you take those photos and I've had this happen where I see a photo, I take it, I love it and I share it, you know, on, on Facebook or Instagram or you know, some other social media and nobody cares. Nobody likes a photo and nobody comments on the photo. Nobody cares. Two minutes later it's, you know, gone in the, in the Facebook algorithm, you know, black hole, you know, whatever it is, it's gone forever. Nobody cared about it. And that hurts inside. Like, oh, come on. Like I thought this was a really cool photo. Like nobody else liked this photo. Wow. That Kinda, that Kinda stinks.
Raymond: 17:23 But if your goal is to just take photos that you are proud of, right? To take photos to grow your skills as a photographer, then it doesn't matter what other people thought of that photo. It's, it should not matter because as long as you liked the photo, you've recognized your growth in that photo. That's all that matters. Now you're just adding you stuff on top of it to, to set yourself up for failure to feel inadequate, you know, by, by, by comparing the photo to the amount of interaction than it gets on social media. Suddenly that photo that you loved 10 minutes ago is now kind of garbage. So that was kind of long winded, but whatever your goal is in photography, like I said, figure out what it is because there has to be some sort of main draw. Do you want to make money?
Raymond: 18:24 Yes. Do you want to get awards and recognition? Yes. Do you want to take photos that that you are happy with? Yes, of course. But one of those three things needs to be the front runner needs to be the, the the main draw in photography for you. And then just play to that. Only measure yourself by that ruler and then be okay not getting any recognition. Like I said, like I said earlier, Van Gogh died an unknown artist. What does that mean? He tried every single day to create art. You know, I'm not sure if he loved his art. I'm not sure to tell you the truth, but I would assume that if you're doing it for, you know, more than 20 years, every single day, you know, you gotta like it, you like, there has to be something inside of you that is happy doing, doing it died, unknown, poor, penniless, unknown.
Raymond: 19:30 The New York Times classifies somebody as a quote unquote professional photographer when they make more than 50% of their yearly income through photography. That is how the, the New York Times defines a professional photographer. And what I found interesting about that is that there is zero mention of anything relating to do with the quality of somebody's work. Now suddenly you think about that and you're like, okay, so if a professional photographer is just somebody who makes more than 50% of their income through photography, and it doesn't matter the quality of their work, now you start looking at Instagram a little bit differently. Suddenly all those people who you thought were incredible photographers are still incredible photographers, but oh, there, they're just hobbyists just like you. Maybe they're just really good at social media. Who knows? But there's just, they're hobbyists just like you.
Raymond: 20:37 Their work, like you already said earlier, is incredible. You look at their work, you think, wow, this is just, this is amazing stuff. If I could get this, if I could get, you know, whatever 200 likes on this photo, oh my gosh, I'd be in heaven if you know, if, if I could shoot those photos, I would be in heaven. And you know what they're thinking, oh, why can't I make any money through my photos? I see these other photographers shooting like garbage, right? Like I spend time to, to work on my craft, to hone my skills. I go out there to take amazing work. I'm getting the recognition that I want, but nobody is paying me. I cannot make a living off this. There's two sides to every single story. And feeling inadequate, you know, is even though it's natural, it's, it's not productive.
Raymond: 21:22 I haven't found it to be productive. I've never found feeling inadequate to be a motivating driver for me. Maybe it is for you, but you know, I dunno. I don't think, I don't think it is. I don't think it is. I don't think it is. In fact I was thinking about this cause it's Kinda funny. I am, I make all of my income through photography so the New York Times would classify me as a professional photographer. Yet I spend time in the beginning of photography, podcasts, Facebook group. And I can honestly tell you that routinely I see photos from quote unquote beginners that just wow me. They knock the socks off of my feet. They are incredible photos. So again, the quality of your work has nothing to do with, with, with your success or how much money you will be making. But once you start measuring yourself with an adequate guideline, I think that you're going to be happier with, with your work.
Raymond: 22:35 But, okay, so let's, let's go back. Earlier I talked about how to know whether something is like a feeling of inadequacy or if it's just beginner nerves. And sometimes those feelings are more than just feelings of a beginner. When you get started, like I mentioned earlier, when you're brand new to something, you don't know the ins and outs and the complexities and the nuances of something and, and it can be overwhelming and it can, it can cause anxiety for you. So this week, Carrie in the group was asked to shoot. She shared that she was asked to shoot a wedding and was wondering if the anxious and stressed out feeling that she feels before a shoot is, is, is from feeling like she's an impostor.
Raymond: 23:32 Well, other people, other photographers feel that same way. But I think that, I think what Carrie was getting at is a little bit different here. And Carrie, I know that you're listing right now and I'm sharing your story because I think that it's gonna help a lot of people because I feel anxious before every single wedding I show up and I will sit in my car for 10 or 15 minutes cause I always show up early. God forbid there's traffic or something and I show up late and then I'm running behind. So I always show up early and in the 10 to 15 minutes, you know that I'm just sitting there in my car. I want to throw up, I'm sitting there and I just have like the worst butterflies floating around in my belly, you know, and I'm thinking, what if I get in there?
Raymond: 24:17 What if there's, you know, no good window light. What if, you know, w what if everybody's kind of a jerk? You know what if this is not w you know, the wedding that I thought that it was going to be and it turns into a huge disaster, I feel anxious too. But it's the joy that I feel right? Once I walked through those doors and I start shooting that wedding, that to me far outweighs the anxiety that I feel before the wedding. Now back to Carrie's story, Carrie said that it's not that way for her. She has shot two weddings before and the couples loved their photos and Carrie still is worried about the, the stress of missing a photo and the anxiety of having to get every shot, you know, perfect in nail it. And I think in that situation where, where a couple loves her work and she still is so anxious and stressed out that it's not that there's no sort of like, okay, I like, I'm, I'm feeling pumped up.
Raymond: 25:32 I can do this for them. If there's none of that, I don't think that weddings are right for Carrie shooting weddings, you know, may not be right for her because what this whole thing is about is that you are gonna feel inadequate at times. You are going to feel stressed out. You are going to feel like a fake. In fact, a, I don't know where this report was done, but a, a, a major news publication interviewed like the top 50 CEOs in the world and asked them what is your biggest fear? And almost all of them said that one of these days somebody's gonna come in here and figure out that I have no idea what I'm doing. Like the world's like top CEOs, you know, people making millions of dollars a year to run, you know, you know, companies with thousands and thousands of employees who depend on the decisions that they have to make to feed their families and grow this business.
Raymond: 26:38 You know, their number one fear is that they are going to be outed as they have no idea what they're doing, which just goes to show that it's not all about, you know, education. It's not about knowing everything about photography. It is in us. It is normal to feel this way and you have to trust yourself. In fact, you have to trust yourself more than anyone else in the world trusts you because it is so easy to say like, oh my gosh, do you want to get into photography? If you want to make any money in photography, go shoot weddings. If you hate shooting weddings, why would you do that? There are plenty of other opportunities, right? Like even though like, oh well, you know, I guess on paper like weddings does, you know, make the most amount of money. You have to trust yourself if you do not want to shoot weddings, if, if weddings stress you out and cause you so much anxiety that you just dread going and you cannot wait until it's delivered, then that's not you.
Raymond: 27:44 You have to listen and trust yourself. So if you are ever feeling down and trust me, you will. I will. In fact, you know, this week has been a particularly hard week for me, which is why I'm, I'm really excited to be talking about this subject today. If you're feeling down, you know, you need to try something new. My wife and I love to take the kids on walks, right? We go outside, we walk around the neighborhood. And just that time kind of getting out of our norm of like being inside the house, working, cleaning, you know, just doing like, I don't know, housely duties. Housely duties. Anyway, just that change of pace. Doing something new for a short amount of time really changes your brain. Like the way that your brain makes decisions and thinks about things. So go ahead and put yourself in a brand new, a situation, you know, take a your camera out to the streets, start shooting some street photos, have zero expectations for those photos. Zero. Absolutely none because you might just, you know, the whole point isn't even just to get out and like do something different in photography. I think that you're going to get out and be surprised at how much you will learn about yourself when you know you go out and you have to wonder to yourself like, Whoa, like what? You know, what, what do I do next? What move do I make next? It could just come to you.
Raymond: 29:27 So do something new. That's it for this week. Let's wrap it up. At some point shooting photography, you're going to feel inadequate about yourself, about your, your, your skills is the photographer about your ability to make money. When you see other people doing it left and right. And you are wondering, how is this even happening? Why am I struggling so hard to do this? It's okay. That is okay. And, and, and to be honest, you know, it doesn't work out for everybody. I don't, I don't want this. I don't want you to listen to this and feel like, oh, okay, just have a good attitude and everything's gonna work out. I got it. And I got it. That's not what I'm saying. But there's a lot of people who, who discount their own feelings and how what photography really means to them. And in this case, you gotta be happy with what it is that you're producing.
Raymond: 30:22 And if you're not happy with it, then don't do it. And if you are happy with it, like if you look at a photo and you genuinely like it, who cares about every thing else, do what makes you happy, keep doing it. People will come to you. They will. So pay attention to how you feel, you know, do you feel challenged? Do you feel joy or is the life just getting sucked out of you? These are the things that you need to think about when, when, when you're feeling inadequate, figure out where it comes from and then, you know, take care of it from there and then just go out on a walk on a photo walk, go out and, and take a picture of, you know, a tree a hundred different ways. All right guys, I hope that this was, this was a bit of a motivational speak for you.
Raymond: 31:12 This time of year. I know there's a lot of photographers who you know, wedding photographers in particular who it may seem like, oh, they're booking weddings left, right? You know, all the time. Every time I turn around and another photographer is just, you know, booked another wedding. And if that's not you, that's okay. That's okay for now. You know, it doesn't mean that your photos are bad, it just means that you need to try something different and getting out, clearing your head could give you that mental clarity that you need. So guys, that is it for this week. Until next week, I do want you to really get out there and keep shooting. I really want you to be safe and I want you to focus on yourself. All right. That is it again for this week. I will see you next week.
Speaker 2: 32:04 If you enjoy today's podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes or your favorite podcast player and continue the conversation with Raymond and other listeners of the podcast by joining the beginner photography podcast Facebook group today. Thank you. We'll see you again next week.