Sunday, June 18, 2017

Limiting Beliefs

I listen to a lot of podcasts. One that I really like is Chamira Young's Pro Photographer Journey. She writes honestly about the business side of being a professional photographer and I learn a lot from her own explorations and interviews.

A recent recap episode she published, The Most Common Limiting Beliefs and Mindset Challenges that Photographers Face (whew! long title!), talked about the beliefs that may limit your potential for growth.

She talked about five limiting beliefs that I list below:

  1. I don't deserve success.
  2. I have to price my photography as cheaply as possible to compete.
  3. I'm not as good as other photographers.
  4. Professional photography is a dying industry.
  5. It's too hard to please everybody.
I want to talk about #3 and #5 in particular.

I'm Not As Good As Other Photographers

As I always say to my kids, there's always somebody out there who is better at something than you are, and you are better at some things than a lot of other people.

It's easy to pick up a magazine or look on Facebook or Instagram to see some amazing photography and think, "man, I will never be that good."

That may be TRUE.

Don't let it limit you.

Keep in mind that the photographers you admire and feel are better than you have put in a ton of time and effort to hone their craft. They've taken training, they've learned from mentors, and they have put in the hard work to discover locations and techniques that help them to take great photos.

You can take great photos too.. if you want to, and you're willing to put the work in.

I remember when I first started taking train photos, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I was terrible. It took me years before I started taking it seriously enough to study WHY I was bad at train photography, to learn from great photographers, study, and experiment.

I think I'm a much better photographer now. I also know there are others who are better than me.

That's OK.

I can keep learning and improving. There's no limit.

It's Too Hard to Please Everybody

I do like to please everybody. I'm greatly troubled when someone is mad at something I did or wrote. I always preferred to avoid conflict... which is a whole other blog post. Or two.

But here's the thing. There's an very old saying, "if you try to please everyone, you please no one" (maybe from Aesop?). That's good but I like this one better:

If you're trying to please everyone, then you're not going to make anything that is honestly yours, I don't think, in the long run. - Viggo Mortensen
If Aragorn said it, it must be true.

You have to have your own voice. You have to be authentic and take photos and share stories the way you want to.

If there are people out there who don't like your style, or your photos, or your words? Too bad. Ignore them. There are plenty of people who will like what you make.

I recognize that a lot of people don't care for trains think of trains at all and that's OK. They probably won't come to my blog. They won't like my photos.

I'm not going to write about things I don't care about to try to capture a larger audience. It won't be good and I won't be happy with it.

So don't limit yourself by trying to please everybody. Produce good work, promote it, and you will get recognized for it. Maybe not today.. maybe not for a year.. but it will come.

The Sky's The Limit

More than ever, if you're willing to put the work in, there's no limit on what you can accomplish... in photography or elsewhere. Don't let the above limiting beliefs hold you back. Do good work.

See Also


Jenn said...

Good post, I can relate to the 'I'm not as good as other photographers'. It has helped me improve though and I find that some of the photographers I admire are more than willing to answer a question or 2 if I contact them. I know I am no pro but I love getting out there and having fun with it.

Patrice Carriere said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your post! As an aspiring photographer (I mean really aspiring: I don't even have a decent camera yet), I find this really interesting. It's through looking at your photos and other train and nature photographers that is inspiring me to get into the hobby. Any suggestions for a complete noob would be gladly accepted. In the interim, keep up the great work!

Steve Boyko said...

Hi Jenn, thanks for your comment. Having fun is the main thing! Most people are very happy to answer a question or two and I've learned a lot from asking and listening.

Steve Boyko said...

Hi Patrice, as many have said, "the best camera is the one you have with you." Decent cameras help but they can only take you so far.

Suggestions for a complete noob... hmmm. I'm about to write a post about a little PDF I downloaded and read that is a great introduction to photography... The Basic Beginner's Guide to Photography - Light and Exposure. I read it a month or two ago and it is a great starting point.

Patrice Carriere said...

Thanks for your reply Steve. To paraphrase your response, my "iPad camera can only take me so far." :-) So I'll try and get a decent camera. Since posting a few days ago, I discovered awhat appears to a realy good introductory photography course here in town. I think that's the way to go. Keep up the great work!