I admit…I have a little bit of what some may call “stage fright” when it comes to my photography and I am slowly learning to overcome it. When I started to more seriously practice my photography, I was proud of my art…yet I was afraid to show it to anyone I knew. I wanted to sell my work, yet didn’t want to approach a gallery in person. I wanted to find a local photography group, yet was nervous to go at it alone. So, in the past couple of years, I made an effort to start “putting myself out there”, and while I’m still working on this, I’m much farther along than I was before!
Here are my 5 tips for overcoming photographer’s “stage fright”:
- Display your work in your home and/or office. I know, I know, this may sound obvious…or shocking, as in “Why wouldn’t you display your work in your home???”. Well, I’m guilty of this. Sure, there have been plenty of candid family photos in my home for years…but that area of photography is not my passion. My passion is with landscape/nature/macro/etc. photography and yet, I didn’t have any of these photos hanging in my house. So it came down to this: how can I expect (or hope) that someone else would hang my work in their environment if I’m not displaying my work in my own? What was keeping me from decorating with my own work? Indecision. Perfectionism. And a little bit of fear. So, with my husband’s help, we started by displaying some of my photos in newly redecorated rooms. And ya know what? It feels pretty good!
- Share your work online. Start a blog, use Instagram, share via Flickr, set up a Facebook page, share on your personal Facebook page…etc., etc.! There’s no wrong answer here…find what works for you and get your work out there! Last year I found that Instagram has been the #1 tool to push me along in my journey as it has allowed me to connect with other female photographers in such a positive way. Plus, seeing the work of others has inspired me and helped me to find my style. Also, find the best way to share your work with family and friends…because if there’s anyone who will support you, it will be those who love you.
- Connect with other photographers (a.k.a. Find your people!) This is a big one that will always be in-progress for me. Through sharing my work online, I have found some of “my people”, but I’m still always wanting to connect…not just to promote my work, but to be inspired and learn. But something was lacking, which brings me to a happy coincidence. Somehow, through a long trail of somewhat unrelated Google searches, I ended up on a website for a local nature photography group. I was intrigued…and I loved what I saw. This was a statewide group of amateur photographers who had a passion for landscape and nature photography…AND, this group had a chapter IN MY TOWN! What? I was so excited. I paid a $35 membership fee for a year and attended the next monthly meeting – all by myself. Each month, this group provides an educational session, and this group also goes on regular field trips in the area, the members share their tips for photography and locations, and they are all incredibly talented. And, I have learned more than I could have – especially about my local area – than I would have learned by networking solely online. Through this group, I have tried new techniques, visited new places, and have gained confidence to “put myself out there”…which brings me to #4.
- Enter photography competitions – online or local. I started by entering some online competitions (after reading the fine print!) but eventually…I went local. The online competitions I entered were helpful, but I found that the local competitions were more in line with what I want to accomplish with my art. For me, the challenge was not necessarily in winning a competition, but to just submit something that people would actually see. Local competitions are a more active way of helping me achieve one of my goals – which is to display my work in an art gallery. I didn’t get accepted into the first competition I entered…and I was okay with that.I was proud that I simply submitted something! But, I DID get accepted into the second competition I entered which happened to be hosted by my local photography group! Being accepted into the competition was enough to keep pushing me towards working on my photography, and to keep sharing my work. The award was just icing on the cake.
- Be confident, be proud, – and remember, all art is subjective. That’s what this all comes down to, right? Be proud of what you’ve accomplished each step along the way. Be confident in the art you’ve produced because, ya know what? Only YOU can produce that piece of art! Yes, there are technical elements to a great photograph…but at the end of the day, if you are proud and happy with your work, THAT is what matters. And maybe there will be someone (or many someones!) who will love your art as much as you love it. But always keep in mind that the beauty of art is that it is subjective – yes, you may have a photo that you absolutely adore, yet you seem to be alone in that feeling. You know what? That’s perfectly ok. Don’t get discouraged…if you’re proud of your work, that is all that matters! There are no wrong answers in photography and art. This is a journey…keep moving forward!