Photography is a unique pursuit that presents many of its own challenges. Whether you’re taking photos of people, animals or inanimate objects, a lack of self-confidence is one of the toughest trials to overcome. We all start off with varying levels of intrinsic anxiety, and it may be more difficult for some to eliminate than others.

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So how do we fix the problem? It’s not going to go away overnight, but below I’ve included eight approaches that will help boost your confidence as a photographer.

Educate yourself

Immerse yourself in the world of photography. Become an avid reader of photographic publications and an active participant in communities. Study up on the photography greats of old and look at what other photographers are doing now. Talk to your peers and learn their solutions to some of the same problems you face. If you’re well-read, then I guarantee you’ll be more confident in your own abilities.

Knowledge is power, but it’s also bound to empower.

Shoot all the time

Practice makes perfect. The more you shoot, the more comfortable you will become with doing it. Each time you produce quality photographs that you’re satisfied with, you’ll gain a renewed sense of pride in your work. Proving to yourself that your efforts are meaningful and worthwhile will go a long way.

The best way to get yourself shooting on a frequent basis is by pursuing a 365 project. This is a commitment to taking and publishing one photo each day for an entire year, and it’s become an increasingly popular phenomenon.

Be friendly and outgoing

Talking to people is a huge part of building your confidence as a photographer. Have meaningful conversations with the people you meet and photograph. This is going to break down the walls of awkward interaction and insecurity to make you a bolder, more personable individual when you’re taking photos.

Photo by Gregory Moine

It’s also a great way to make friends and network. The acquaintances you make are bound to remember you, especially if you’ve taken their picture. Strangers who you take the time to stop and relate with are more apt to offer their help than you may think. It never hurts to get someone’s card if they warm up to you and provide the possibility for future opportunities (either as a client or a professional connection).

Be sensitive, but not too sensitive

If you’re taking photos of people, it’s important to step into your subject’s shoes and consider their feelings. Will they feel uncomfortable or become hostile if you point the camera at them? Are they self-conscious of their looks, or will they be delighted if you snap their portrait?

But the same sensitivities can play against you. If you’re over-considerate then you may become timid or fearful of disturbing someone else’s disposition. And this brings us to the next few points.

Recognize your needs

Why are you taking photos? Are you on assignment for a publication or client? Are you creating a series for your portfolio or fulfilling personal goals? Remind yourself of your needs and ensure that they’re being met when you’re behind the camera. This shouldn’t be fulfilled at the expense of another person, but it also shouldn’t be compromised because of someone else’s selfishness.

Stand up for your interests

This can be one of the most difficult and touchy parts of becoming a confident photographer, but it’s absolutely essential. You should never let someone push you around. Once you’ve recognized your needs, you must be able to back them up and defend yourself if someone is taking advantage of you.

This doesn’t mean you need to be abrasive or hostile if you meet opposition. If somebody has a problem with what you’re doing, keep the conversation civil and make sure that you’re explaining your purpose. It helps to carry business cards or another form of professional identification to set someone at ease with if they’re questioning your credibility or motives.

Keep a clear mind

Photo by AlicePopkorn

One of the best ways to stave off anxiety and fear is keeping a clear head when you’re shooting. Teach yourself to remain focused on the task at hand and don’t let your mind trail off to what other people are thinking of you and your activity. Shyness and introversion generally stem from these same issues, so learning to curb your wandering attention will help you avoid them. Absorbing yourself in the moment will also improve your skills of observation – an essential part of being an effective photographer.

Complete your technical mastery

Aside from being educated on the industry and its practices, you should know your camera like the back of your hand. This may sound trivial, but if you haven’t already you should read your camera manual front to back. When you know everything you can about your camera’s operation, then you eliminate the possibility of the unknown.

Photo by Nesster

You may think you already know everything worth knowing about your equipment, but you’re bound to stumble across handy new features. This is going to give you peace of mind and prepare you for difficult situations.

Remember that it ultimately takes time and experience to become a steadfast and well-respected photographer. You won’t necessarily shed your sheepish tendencies overnight, but I guarantee that these tips are going to reinforce your self-confidence in the field.