Overcoming Impostor Syndrome as a Photographer

This post has really struck a chord with me and I thought I would share it.

I have thought of myself as an impostor for a very long time. Firstly in my previous job in social media. It was an industry that I loved being a part of but was in constant fear that I would be found out as a wannabe. A crap wannabe in fact. The constant fear of being found out paralysed me and the doubt took over. Eventually I was beaten down and left. The only thing I had left was photography.

Even now I find it hard to call myself a photographer even though I take photos, have studied photography and take an active interest in the medium. I feel I’m a liar whenever I say I’m a photographer. I view myself as just a person that enjoys taking photos.

The blog talks about comparison and I’m certainly am guilty about that. On a good day, I use it as inspiration; to push myself to become better at taking photos.

More often than not though, I use it as a stick to beat myself up about my lack of talent, lack of imagination or not being where I feel I should be. Comparison is certainly the death of joy. It’s not fun when you put yourself down all the time.

I haven’t quite figured out how to defeat the feeling of being a wannabe photographer (tips gratefully received) but I’ve been making myself take a step back and realise there are people who are always going to better than myself. That’s just life.

As Jen H says: ‘If people love your art, believe them. Give yourself permission to love it too.’

The Daily Post

There is an unsettling, nagging worry that accompanies impostor syndrome, that somehow, someday, someone is going to find out that you’re a great big phony.

Impostor syndrome is the pervasive feeling that you’re faking your way through success, and that your achievements are attributable only to good luck. There is an unsettling, nagging worry that accompanies impostor syndrome, that somehow, someday, someone is going to find out that you’re a great big phony. That you’re really not as really good as you’ve cleverly convinced people that you are. That you’re a fraud.

In today’s post, I’ve decided to focus on impostor syndrome in the photography community, but everything herein can be easily extrapolated onto any professional field or any creative pursuit. I’ve collected some thoughts from a few of the I Heart FacesCreative Team; Amandalynn Jones and Julie Rivera, as well as Texas photographer Karyn Kelbaugh

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A Decision

It was on the bus tonight that I decided to write something. I thought it would be a bit odd to publish a photo after all this time and I am well aware that I’ve lost most of my followers. No matter. The most important thing for me tonight it to actually publish something.

It has been a very long time since I have written online (barring, of course, Facebook and the odd tweet). In the year and a half-ish since I’ve left, things have changed considerably. WordPress has this new fancy two-step authentication which will let me back onto WordPress if I ever lose my phone. I’ve only half finished as I don’t have a printer. I better not lose my phone!

The other thing that has changed is that I stopped taking photos. I stopped writing. I stopped doing everything that I loved doing. Why? I didn’t know if I enjoyed doing it anymore. I was burnt out and very stressed. I needed to step away. Anxiety sapped my love of anything.

My lack of confidence has plagued my life but not to the point where it has disrupted nearly every aspect of my being. I felt I was a huge failure. For a very long time I thought I was a failure and I carried that every single day which pushed me further down the spiral of negativity. I found that very hard to live with. It paralysed me. I could find no joy in life.

I sought help and I am in the process of putting myself back together again. I’ve wanted to write for a while but it’s hard to put pen to paper – or rather type on WordPress. I’m not sure if I’m ready for the commitment of blogging again but I have the urge to take photos and I believe that if you take photos, it needs to be shared, not locked away on a hardrive. When I mean shared, I mean printed to put into an album, wall or online – somewhere that people or even if it’s just yourself can look at and appreciate the picture

Flicking back through my photos I’ve realised that, actually, they’re not bad. I’m not claiming to be the world’s best photographer, but neither am I the world’s worst photographer. In fact, I decided to print off a huge canvas of this photo and hang it in my new flat to remind me that I can actually take some decent photos.

Burnt down West Pier in Brighton
West Pier, Brighton. Lomo camera. Lomo Redscale film

I was having a look around my other blog that I used to write alongside this photography blog when I rediscovered an old post about turning 30+1. I ended with saying that you should do the things that scare you. So here I am. It is with trepidation that I return to blogging and photography.

Cats, internet and photos – what’s not to love?

It’s dawning on me that I’m slowing becoming The Crazy Cat Lady. Recent gifts included a lot of kitty-related products (which I was delighted to receive), so when my flatmate told me about an exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery about the little critters and the internet, it was always going to be a winner with me.

In 2008,  American media scholar Ethan Zuckerman said:

Web 1.0 was invented to allow physicists to share research papers. Web 2.0 was created to allow people to share pictures of cute cats.

This relates cute cats to the seriousness of digital activism. If you want to know more, Cory Doctorow explains about the cute cat theory in his piece for The Guardian. But back to the furry little balls of purr..

‘For the LOL of Cats’ looks at our obsession with felines and showcases some of the internet sensations that has made us lol and ‘ahhh’.

For starters, the exhibition includes this history of I Can Has in diagram form. It really is something (especially the flashing gifs. Do not view if you’re on drugs. You may freak out). Then there was a Flickr group which has completely bypassed me called Somebody Else’s Cat which features some hilarious photos of, you’ve guessed it, somebody else’s cat. The group started because of a memo saying there was too many cat photos on Flickr.

Basically a lot of cat pictures are flashed up on The Wall. There’s not much to say really. It was fun to while away 15 mins and worth going if you’re into felines.

To get you in the mood, here’s a my favourite cat-related video:

And here’s something that makes me giggle without fail – breaded cats.

Photo: http://www.breadedcats.com/
Photo: http://www.catsinbread.com

And here’s current interweb sensation – Grumpy Cat

Grumpy-Cat-MEME-01

Be quick though. The ‘For the LOL of Cats’ ends this Saturday.

Happy new year to one and all

So the new year is nearly upon us. While it’s a good time to look back and take stock of the passing year, it’s more important to look forward and decide on what you want to do in 2013. This year, I’m hoping to become part of the photo community here in London to push me to become a better photographer. I’m not entirely sure on how to do this – all I know that it’s a case of putting myself out there and hoping for the best!

Here’s my photo-related new year’s resolutions for the coming year:

1) Go to photo-related Meetups.

2) Go to more exhibitions and blog about them. I’m in London! There’s exhibitions on all the time.

3)  Enter competitions. I’ve always planned to send my photos to The Times and The Guardian but truth be told, I always forget. I need to seek out some smaller competitions for amateur photographers.

4) Do more analogue photography. I was astounded by everyone’s reaction to my first post, especially when I realised it made Freshly Pressed. That was one of my highlights of 2012 and my blogging life.

5) Keep this blog up!

Do you have any tips on taking your photography to the next level?

The fury over Instagram

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Instagram has updated its terms of service which has left the web in a bit of frenzy. In a nutshell it gives the photo sharing platform the right to reseve to sell your photos to advertisers without telling you or payment. The terms of service takes effect on 16 Jan 2012.

This is the paragraph that seems to be causing the uproar:

Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.

Even the little sister of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s sister doesn’t seem to like the changes – she ‘liked’ a post which included a screenshot of the above ToS  and a comment saying ‘Instragram’s suicide note’.

I’ve already stopped using Instagram a few days ago because photos appeared to be cropped due to the falling out with Twitter. I haven’t got around to trying out new apps yet. I don’t know if I will delete my account, as from my understanding, the new policy applies to photos taken after the 16 Jan. (If you’re looking to delete you account, here’s how.)

So, what else is out there instead of Instagram? Twitter, of course, has launched its own filters and photo editing but from what I can gather is pretty basic.

I’m looking towards Flickr, and am very much hoping that they will take advantage of the #InstaFail. I have a soft spot for Flickr – it’s the only platform that I pay to host my photos. The last time I downloaded their app, I wasn’t very happy, but a week ago they launched a new iPhone app. I have an Android, and this got updated a while ago. As I was on Instagram, I didn’t give Flickr a look in. Now it looks like I need to revisit my old friend.

The thing is, are we really surprised that Instagram are doing this? After all, it needs to monetize itself somehow and don’t forget – it’s part of Facebook and they do what they like. The reality is, Instagram probably won’t use your photo (and if you do, you won’t know about it anyway!) and it’s only professional and semi-amateur photographers who are up in arms. If you sell your Instagrammed photos to an agency, then Instagram also uses your photos, there could be an issue.

Is this another Twitter storm in teacup? Only time will tell. My feeling is that this will settle down in a few days. I’m not up in arms, but then again, I’m not making money out of my Instagram photos. At the end of the day, my photos are up there for public consumption. Is there much I can do if Instagram uses my photos? Not really. I don’t have to post them here, and I might not be for very much longer. I know I should care, but I’m trying not to over react.

Instagram tweeted earlier today that they heard ‘the updates to our Privacy Policy & Terms of Service are raising a lot of questions. We’ll have more to share very soon’

UPDATE: Instagram have responded the uproar saying that it is not true that they are going to sell users’ photos and

It is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

Ownership rights

Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos.

Privacy

Nothing has changed about the control you have over who can see your photos.

Read what they have to say.

Do you think you’ll leave Instagram and if you are, what app will you use?

English Channel - Hastings (Sarah Rajabalee)

Hello and thanks

I would like to say hello to all my new followers and to thank you for all the likes. I was very surprised when I found out that this blog made Freshly Pressed as it has only been going for a couple of days. Apologies if this blog looks sparse, I didn’t think it would get so much interest.

I’m very encouraged that you liked my Lomo Walk in Brighton post and it has given me more confidence in my photography. Those Lomo photos ended up being a very happy mistake and I have been thinking about doing more red scale photos. If I do, you will be the first people to know.

I hope you enjoy my photos and let me know if there is something you would like me to write about. I’m open to all ideas.