Hello, photographer! Did you know that you’re not just a photographer?
You’re a business owner. And to be taken seriously in the world of photography with harsh competition, healthy confidence is a skill you need to be working on. To reach a certain level of confidence you need to consciously work on both your mindset, soft skills, and hard skills.
Today, we’ll cover…
- What does it mean to be confident?
- 10 reasons why confidence is good for business.
What does it mean to be confident?
Let’s not mislead confidence as being arrogant, bossy, and full of yourself. We’re talking about healthy levels of confidence that every business owner needs to have for their business to thrive. It means being able to build your own brand from nothing, being viewed as a professional, knowing how to set boundaries, mastering communication skills, being reliable, knowing the values of your services and your time – and being prepared for all situations. Just imagine all other job positions where confidence is crucial (e.g. a pilot, or nurse), and how you would view a true professional in any field and try applying it to your own photography.
Now you’ll see why confidence is beneficial to every business.
You may have listed your own reasons for that to be true, but let’s discuss my top 10 reasons why I think this relates to photography.
- Confidence is your personal marketing
You might be a brilliant photographer, but if people don’t have a clue about you, you won’t have lots of business. To have a full calendar, you need to be able to sell your services online and in your local community. This applies to the way you build your website, the way you post on social media, the way you reply to your messages and basically the way you present yourself in any written, audio, or visual form.
2. Confidence sets professional boundaries
Imagine a potential client coming to you and offering to pay just 10% of your price. If you’re just starting out, it’s very tempting to put yourself down just for getting that client. Wrong! Set your boundaries from the beginning and attract only those who truly value your work. This doesn’t only apply to money, but also for other ways people could treat you – for example not showing up or showing up late, wanting more than they paid for or wanting access to your RAW files.
3. Confidence handles stressful situations
There is no photographer who is 100% comfortable with all manner of situations that could happen on a photoshoot. But a confident photographer is prepared for at least 90% of these possible scenarios! Proper planning builds your confidence and thus you’re able to react to anything that happens with ease in mind. In the eyes of the customer, you’ll look like you know exactly what you’re doing.
4. Confidence shows reliability
If your behavior shows confidence, the expectation is that you’ll be reliable too. Most of this is shown to the customer from day one, and is implied in the way you communicate and treat your client. But it’s not only about talking, you’re also expected to follow through and take action on what you have promised. So, if you’re a very reliable wedding photographer and you want to set a confident and professional mood – you should talk about every problem that your client might face on their big day and provide a solution. What does this look like? Owning two reliable camera bodies and multiple SD cards with a backup. Having a second shooter. Having a photographer backup in case you have a serious injury. Providing a second day for the wedding photoshoot in case the weather is bad. Can you name other examples?
5. Confidence puts a price tag to your work
The reliability we just discussed in the previous step is what can easily increase your price tag. Your work is a standard that you always need to fulfill – and this costs extra money if the customer wants to be sure that they made the right decision. Often, higher prices also evoke more trust in your service (even though we know that this doesn’t always have to be correct).
6. Confidence opens doors to more opportunities
If you’re confident in your work, it shows. You become the magnet for good opportunities: working with celebrities, working as a jury in a photography contest or being published in a well-known magazine. Confidence is part of a pattern – those famous photographers are able to make such a good living and I doubt it came naturally to all of them. They started right where you did!
7. Confidence makes decision making easier
Photography is creative work, so it often comes with a lot of variables: Where am I going to shoot? What kind of light technique will be the best? What about the angle and settings? What should I say to the model? Is the posing good? And the questions don’t end when you come back home to edit. What kind of preset should I use? Should I edit in Lightroom or Photoshop? How should I name my photoshoot? A true professional can make their decisions quick and stick to it. Your workflow seems more confident if you sort out these little decisions smoothly.
8. Confidence embraces the journey
That doesn’t mean that you should never change your mind about some things. In fact, it’s encouraged that you admit to your mistakes. You’re just human, not a robot! If you’re confident enough, you can handle this small hiccup and use this mistake as learning new knowledge. It’s about the journey, and to be the best, you always need to be looking forward to the next step!
9. Confidence makes customers comfortable
Someone is trusting you to capture their beauty, their important moments in life, their first kiss on a wedding, their newborn baby or even the business portrait they’ll be using for years. Someone’s look that is going to be captured forever is in your hands – so make your client feel that they made the right choice. The way you appeal to people can be even more important than the work you deliver. Truth is, not many customers are professionals in photography so they can’t tell if your choice of “contrast +10” was better than “+13” but they can remember if they felt like they could trust you. And that’s what they will tell their friends and family – a.k.a your potential customers!
10. Confidence will put your mind at ease
You and your mental health are the most important part of your business. It’s basically your name that you’re promoting. Knowing how to battle your own insecurities and turning them into an advantage takes a lot of work, but will help tremendously for keeping peace with yourself in everyday life. If you know that you’re walking into the business with experience and a proper plan, you’ve already won half of the battle: the battle with yourself. And you can thank your mindset and your capabilities for that.
So, yes. Confidence is crucial in your small business, and you should seek to achieve it. But be aware that it doesn’t mean faking your way into photography. You should always start simple – build your confidence in one field (e.g. portrait photography) and after carefully planning each step of your client’s experience from communication to execution, you can truly act confident and deliver the best service. While having one thing you already mastered to a certain level, you can try out other fields and experiment to never stay at the same comfortable spot.
What if you’re comfortable, but not confident? Sometimes, you can gain confidence just by performing some simple actions – preparing a detailed plan for each client, reviewing your monthly/yearly progress, dressing up for a photoshoot professionally, investing your time and money into self-development or working on your communication skills (both mailing and photoshoot talk).
Confidence is good, but it’s not everything. Don’t get discouraged by people who don’t have anything else than that. Use confidence to help you showcase your beautiful work, not just as an empty selling mechanism. It’s all about that balance! It will take time and determination but trust me – you & your business will benefit from it!
- What does it mean to have a healthy level of confidence?
- How can your confidence help to build your marketing?
- Can you prepare for all possible unfortunate scenarios on a shoot?
- How can you showcase your reliability?
- Does higher pricing mean better work?
- What kind of opportunities can confidence bring?
- How can you smoothen your workflow?
- Should failure be encouraged?
- What makes a customer comfortable?
- How will healthy confidence help your mental health?
- Choose one type of a photoshoot session you offer and create a detailed plan for your client including communication, location planning, outfit planning, makeup planning to execution, post-production, and picture delivery. List out every possible thing that needs to be done. Think about the best-case and worst-case scenarios and prepare a plan for each of them.
- Ask your friends and family to describe a confident photographer and write down all adjectives they use. Learn why they might think that and ask more questions.
- List three businesses who you have complete trust in. If you were to learn something from them, what would it be? What is it about them that makes you believe that what they do is 100% right?
Cover Photo by Ľudmila Borošová