Having chatted to other professional photographers, I don’t think I’m alone in suffering from Imposter Syndrome. In fact it seems fairly common when you’ve turned your hobby into your job, that you often worry about being uncovered as an imposter, an amateur working in a professional world.
Despite that feeling I do seem to have found my niche after shooting professionally for eight years. Most of the time I trundle along quite comfortably shooting marketing images and portraits without feeling like a fraud. I know my strengths and my limitations and, for now, I seem to be getting away with it!
However, occasionally a commission comes along that disrupts that equilibrium and brings the dreaded Imposter Syndrome bubbling to the surface. Like when I was recently asked to shoot my brother-in-law’s new two-piece band Shiivers.
As plans for the shoot developed I realized that expectations were high. There was talk of gels, barn doors, gobos, grids and snoots. There was a Creative Director, a stylist and a make up artist. This shoot was shaping up to be more like a high-end fashion shoot rather than my usual simple one- or two-light set up. Plenty of time and money were being invested in this shoot and there were a lot of people to let down if I made a hash of the photos.
I had a choice: I could either surrender to Imposter Syndrome and run away with my tail between my legs. Or I could be brave, take control of my insecurities and see this as a great opportunity to expand my portfolio.
My brother-in-law was adamant that he had faith in me to shoot the photos the band needed. So, with that boost in confidence, I took a deep breath and threw myself into the challenge.
In the end it transpired that I was not out of my depth. With careful planning, patience and a fair amount of experimentation, the shoot was a success. I wasn’t shown up to be a fraud and my insecurities were misplaced. In fact, by pushing my boundaries I have increased my confidence and expanded my skillset. I have learned and improved and raised myself to a new level. Thankfully, Imposter Syndrome has been banished to the back of my mind…for now.
Tips for approaching difficult shoots
· Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses
· Plan, plan and plan some more
· Be open to advice