When I first started in photography, I’d get so ridiculously nervous before my photoshoots. All day long until the shoot, I’d stress about what all could go wrong; if I was going to screw up or say something stupid, or if I’d freeze up during the posing, or if my card or camera would mess up mid-shoot and I’d look like a fraud. You name it, I’ve probably stressed over it. I simply wanted to be more confident; to roll up to shoots knowing I’d do a great job.
As time went on, I started to stress less. And instead of dreading my shoots, I actually started getting excited (and even knew I was gonna kill it!)
Did you see where the switch was? It was in time.
And the reason that time made a difference, was because in that time, was where the experience happened. You can only get better at something by doing more of it. So it only makes sense that the more I shot and the more clients I worked with, the better I got. There’s no way of getting around it, or becoming an overnight success with photography.
Now, can you spend money to learn faster? For sure, (and I totally recommend it!) Don’t re-invent the wheel and cause yourself to make a billion mistakes that could’ve easily been avoided through educating yourself. Money may be valuable, but you can always get more of it. Time? Not so much.
But that’s another rant in itself, so let’s get on with learning how to be more confident on shoots – shall we? 😉
How To Be More Confident As A Photographer (When Youre First Starting Out):
1. Learn your profession.
The number one problem I see with beginner photographers is that they start charging people for sessions before they even know how to use their camera.
… That’s like charging people to do hair before you’re a licensed cosmetologist. You’re going to feel like a fraud because you don’t even know how to do the job you’re being paid to do! I know it sounds elementary, but it’s just the simple truth.
To be more confident, you’ve got to know what you’re doing. And to know what you’re doing, you’ve gotta spend the time learning it. Almost every single issue can be avoided by knowing how to use your camera and read light.
Let’s run through some scenarios that are easily handled by knowing how to do what you do:
- Your clients can only shoot at 12:00 pm, (mid-day harsh light.) If you don’t know how to use your camera in manual, or where to position your clients according to the light, or how to manipulate light to work for you (and not against you,) – you’re up the creek without a paddle. 🤷🏻♀️
- Your clients want some photos inside a super dark building because it’s sentimental to them. Don’t know how to shoot in manual? The photos probably won’t turn out right. Trusty ole (actually not trusty at all,) auto mode… won’t know what to do! When you know how to shoot in manual, you’re telling the camera what to do… not the other way around!
- Your clients were a bit late for their session, and the light isn’t what you originally planned for. It’s getting darker by the second, and your images aren’t turning out the way you need them to. You’re stressing and sweating, and struggling to maintain composure because you’re already freaking out about the “I’ll offer you guys another complimentary session” email you’re going to have to send them tomorrow. But if you knew how to shoot in manual mode, you’d just open up your aperture, crank up your ISO, slow your shutter speed… and be on your way!
Confidence comes from knowing how to do what you do – and knowing how to do it well. The only way to reach that point is to practice, practice, and practice some more.
Are you more of a hands-on learner, and Youtube university isn’t cutting it? Reach out to a local photographer and see if they offer classes or mentorships on how to shoot in manual; you’ll be SO glad you did! (I offer these as well, either in person or online! Check ’em out over here!)
2. Study the light.
So many bad lighting scenarios could’ve been avoided early in my career had I known, and truly mastered, light. My galleries also would’ve been much more impressive had I spent the time to read light and knew what it was doing.
There are so many different types of light during the day, and so many different locations you could place your clients in and get a completely different shot from. Some different terms when it comes to light in photography are:
– Harsh light (can totally work if you know what you’re doing)
– Shade (totally works)
– Open shade (super flattering)
– Spotted light (not flattering)
– Even light (flattering)
– Flat light (not flattering)
– Backlight (flattering if you know what you’re doing, my personal fav!)
There are many different kinds of lighting scenarios available during a shoot, and it’s our job as a photographer to pick the best ones. For me, that’s the ones that’ll yield the most incredible images and flatter my subjects best I can. (My go-to lighting setup is usually backlit during golden hour, it’s my fav!)
Spend some time studying light when you’re outside, and shooting in different variations. You never know, you may end up loving a lighting style you never knew you would, and it’ll definitely help you to be more confident when faced with different lighting scenarios on shoots!
3. Preparation is key.
Winging it is the #1 way to NOT feel confident on a photoshoot. It’s just not the best idea when you’re starting out, (or ever really, if it can be prevented.)
Preparation is KEY to ensure you’re set up for success on your shoots, and definitely helps with the whole “being more confident” thing. It ensures that you’ll have minimal issues arise, (well, at least those that are preventable.) There are SO many different ways you can prepare for a session. Here are some of my favs!
- One of the most important ways to prepare for sessions is to set the time the session will take place to a time that will allow you to capture the best photos. Usually, that’s around golden hour, which is 2-2.5 hours before sunset.
- You’d want to be sure to communicate this to your clients beforehand. I suggest creating an email template titled “prep client for session,” and then including all the info you need to prepare clients for sessions in there, so you won’t forget! (Honeybook makes this SO easy! If you’re curious about HB, totally check out this post of a BTS look into my entire workflow and how I use it and how much of a lifesaver it is!)
- Another way to prepare for your session is to make sure the location will allow you to achieve the images you desire. So many times, I’ll see photographers frustrated with their images because the client chose the location, and they didn’t go scout it out before the session. Go to the session location at the EXACT time you plan on shooting there, because that’s the best representation of what it’ll actually look like! If you’re shooting at a wedding venue at 3pm and you scout the location at 9am, all of your “spots” are gonna have completely different light, and may not work the way you intend! Nothing’s worse than planning a killer backlit shot and realizing at that time of day it’s gonna be front-lit. Been there, done that. 😂
- Pro tip: Download the “Sun Seeker” app! This app lets you pinpoint the location you plan on shooting at, and you can even see exactly where the sun will be hitting it at all points of the day! It’s legit, and I don’t plan a session without it! 🙂
- Prepare your gear. Keep a list of all of the items you need for your session. Create a checklist and print one off each time you’re preparing your gear! Be sure to include everything you’ll need, (i.e. camera, each individual lens, batteries (and how many,) reflectors, scrims, flashes, etc.) You may want to create another to-do list for preparing for shoots, so you won’t forget to actually charge your batteries. 😉
These are the top things I’d recommend to any photographer who’s just starting out, that wants to know how to be more confident when they head out the door to their sessions! If you buckle down and do the prep-work, I promise you’ll feel much more relaxed when meeting your clients, (and taking their money!)
Wanna know the top three things you can do to jumpstart your photography biz?
Book a clarity call and I’ll hook ya up! 👇🏼
If ya liked this little gem, you’ll LOVE this guide on how to create a photography business with zero competition. (Cause that’s what we all want, right!?)
Wanna stick around and stay learnin’? I knew I liked ya. 😉
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If you’re short on time, follow me on Pinterest – and you’ll get these kinda tips delivered straight to your feed! You know… when you’re scrollin’ through Pinterest with coffee in hand, ready to take on the day… or, procrastinate.
Whatevs. Pinterest biz sesh, anybody!? 😎🥂