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Confidence is a Two Edged Sword
One side is good, appropriate and useful. It is required for you to understand what your skills are and complete the task. The good side of confidence comes with preparation, effort, study, hard work, practice, experimenting, etc. Many of you have probably studied so well for something that when you walk in to take the test, you know you will do great. This is the good side of confidence, it’s the same when you go into a photo shoot knowing that whatever problem arises, you will be able to work it out because you are prepared.
The Other side of confidence is ego and arrogance based. It is destructive because it allows us to believe we are better than we really are, and therefore robs us of humility. Once humility leaves, we lose our ability to learn. It invites complacency, breeds arrogance, and leeches hunger/drive. It is coupled with a feeling that you have “arrived” and there is little if anything more you can learn. Once fun, the work is now boring. Every shot is the same and suddenly you dread going to shoots. Every single professional photographer I have even met has either overcome this problem somehow, or still suffers from it. Good really is the enemy of great. Once we find something that “works” why do we need to get better?
I’m speaking of both edges of confidence because I have experienced them first hand and I know if I do not make a conscious effort to keep one side dull, it will always come back to cut me. It is also extremely common in advanced photographers. They become proficient with their cameras and the learning (as well as the humility) stops. I look back on some of the images I took years ago, when I thought they were good and now I am just appalled at my own work.
I wanted to list some of the mental exercises I go through to keep the bad side dull:
1. I try to think about the people who have helped me get to where I am now. My family, friends, students, coaches, Heavenly Father, experiences, enemies, security guards, etc.
2. I try to tell myself everyday “I only know 5% of everything I need to learn about photography.” I believe this is true, and I believe it will always be true for the rest of my life.
3. I also tell myself “Every photographer and person can teach me something, no matter what their experience level, if I don’t look and listen, I will miss something.”
4. Find new ways to change things up. Doing the same thing over and over stagnates ideas. Eat different food, try different exercises, take different shots with different cameras, meet different people. Variation is key to evolving and getting better. Force yourself to get uncomfortable.
5. I try to teach whenever I can, whether its in person, on the forum, or on videos. I will be very disappointed in myself if I ever become “too good” to teach others. I despise the thought, probably because I was shot down so many times when I was getting started.
Recently, I realized the different avenues of marketing that I have been totally missing out on, simply because I thought the way I was doing was the best way. Man, was I just SO wrong, but it was SO sneaky the way it blinded me. I’m making some improvements to how I market myself now, but to be honest, I feel so personally embarrassed that I didn’t see these things before. If I would have seen them a year ago, I could have saved myself so much trouble, and then I start to wonder about how this “bad edge” is hurting me in other ways I am not seeing.....its scary!
Please, please, please, do not let the bad side of confidence sneak up on you. If you are not aware of it and are not making a conscious effort to control it, it will catch up with you….Learn from my mistakes! ☺
As an update on what Im up to, Ive been getting to sleep around 6-7am and sleeping until noon. Night time is just the best time to shoot because it is so quiet. We are about 95% done shooting (I have one more lesson to shoot) and 67% done editing on the Canon 7D DVD. The hardest lessons were the built-in flash transmitter lesson and the focusing systems because there is SO much information to cover and I need to do it in about 5 minutes or less. Id imagine we should have the final drafts in for production next week sometime if everything goes smoothly. I'm really excited to finish the 7D DVD, so I can get all caught up on my 365 and try to relax a little before my new product launches. In Jan, Ill be right back at the drawing board to finish: Advanced Photography Techniques, Wedding Photography Crash Course and the Lighting DVDs. So much to do!