At the very beginning of my photography journey, one of the things I did was disqualify myself. I told myself “well, you’re a newbie so you don’t belong to that photographer’s group.” Or I said things like “You can’t call yourself a wedding photographer because you’ve only shot a couple weddings.” I even said things like “I have a ‘small’ photography business” in an effort to make myself appear smaller, acknowledging that I wasn’t good enough to call myself a “real photographer.”
I would say no to inquiries that seemed too hard. I would say no to going to a networking event for fear that I wouldn’t fit in. I would be afraid of couples getting married at venues that seemed “too fancy” for me, afraid that I wouldn’t do a good enough job. I worried what other photographers thought when I started my business, sure that they were rolling their eyes at me for thinking I could do this. I worried what my friends and family thought. I worried about making mistakes, so I figured if I could just disqualify myself at the start, then I wouldn’t fall as hard if I did mess up.
What. The. Hell. Was. I. Thinking?!
I wish I could go back to those years ago and grab Leah by the face and tell her to just go for it and forget what anyone else thought and to sure as hell not disqualify herself from trying before she even began. Through the years, one of the things I’ve learned the most is that mistakes are the greatest teachers, what others think of you doesn’t really matter, but what you think of yourself and tell yourself really, really does.
There are still days where I tell myself negative stories, or worry about messing up, but I’ve gotten a lot better at speaking inspiring things to myself too, and not disqualifying myself before I begin. Now, I face challenges head on, and if I don’t know how to do something, I either try to figure it out, or find someone who does know and hire them to help me.
Listen, my amazing photographer friend, YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES to be an amazing photographer. The fact that you have started your journey is enough to keep going, and going, and growing, and failing, and getting up again and keep going. But what’s important is what you’re telling yourself. Are you disqualifying yourself from projects, clients, or skills that you aren’t sure you can handle? Are you speaking to yourself in a negative way or a positive one? Are you envisioning a future where you have grown into the photographer you admire or focusing on little mistakes you have made or might? Are you embracing challenges and learning from them or giving up the moment it gets hard?
I wanted to share a little bit of my story to encourage you to keep going and keep chasing after the dreams you have. As I look back on my photography journey, I’m so proud – of the mistakes I learned from, and the projects I jumped into and said yes to even though I was nervous and scared. I’ve grown so much every time I said no to a disqualifying statement about myself and I hope that my story will encourage you to do the same.
If you need someone to talk to, bounce ideas off of, or share your doubts and insecurities or joys, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a DM on my Instagram. I’m here to cheer you on and help you get over those self-sabotaging thoughts.
You’ve got this, friend. Keep going!