This blog post is one that is close to my heart. Self-confidence and the industry of modelling/photography really do not go hand in hand. With constant comparison to picture-perfect content and the onslaught of social media, many have been driven to distraction.
A bit of relevant background about myself. Throughout my childhood, I had a lot of confidence issues driven by childhood insecurities, a long history of racial prejudice, and general self-esteem issues. Thankfully through loving parents and friends and the fact my father was a world-class psychologist I overcame many of the issues that I had grown up with.
So back to the topic….
There have been so many times where stunning models have confided in me that they feel low in self-esteem often triggered by seeing fellow models posting picture-perfect shots or celebrating achievements such as agency jobs or glamorous holidays. On the flip side, I have seen super talented photographers go through a downturn of emotions, questioning their work, and damaging their motivation to shoot. How often have you seen someone else’s photographic adventure and think “god I wish”?
Unfortunately, this industry is all about rejection. Whether it is an agency rejecting your application, an unsuccessful magazine submission, or not being cast for the shoot you really want – this industry is not kind for the faint of heart or those without steel cast mental fortitude. Thankfully there are many methods and tools at our disposal to help us navigate these tricky waters.
Needless to say, these are not the only techniques around and will work with varying success with each person. I am just sharing what has worked for me as I have been working as a photographer in this industry – hopefully, these will be of some use to you!
1. Surround yourself with the right people
Unfortunately people have agendas, most of the time with no impact on you but it is important to be aware when people have a negative impact on you. Throughout this industry I try to surround myself with genuine and wonderful individuals who help celebrate success and support you when you are down.
Learn to recognize passive aggression or backhanded platitudes, those individuals who would prefer that your star did not shine too brightly. We all have ups and downs and it is important to have those around you who help you when you are down and there for you to celebrate the ups.
KEY TIP – Recognize and remove yourself from “emotional vampires”, those people who cause dramas for no reason, drain you and make you feel guilty for your successes
In particular, I would shout out to many of those in London Photography Social whom the regulars have become such great friends. Also the wonderful models that I have worked with through the years who are friends through thick and thin
2. Stop comparing yourself
Oh my god – this is the worst. Especially with Instagram being integral to modelling and photography. From a personal perspective as a photographer i sometimes look at images that pop up and think “damn why do i even bother?” It is hard but it is important to remember that not only are we all different as creatives but we are all on different paths and different stages of each path.
Comparisons are the root of mental issues and can be so detrimental. I have to constantly remind myself that this is such a subjective industry and that great images should inspire me and drive me instead.
KEY TIP – take an instagram break – personally most evenings and 1 day a week I do not look at my social media. It is as much of a mental break than anything!
For instance, I have just started videography, I know I have some haters who have made sarcastic comments about my earliest efforts. That is fine, I am learning, I love it and I am inspired to learn. I look up to and am blown away by a top-class videography Jacob Cameron Hill but rather than knocking my confidence I get inspired. Jacob is a good friend and has even spent the time to teach me my early lessons in videography – thank you mate
3. Know your strengths (and where to change)
This to me was key. In my other professional job I did this test called a Gallup Strength Finder. The gist of this was that the test identified your strongest 5 key strengths and, if i worked on those, I would utilise the best attributes of myself. This flies in the face of what we are taught to work on our weaknesses – if i spent my time on my weaknesses I would just be average despite significant time and effort.
That this convoluted story is trying to explain is that you need to understand your best attributes and be proud of them. Yes there will always be someone more talented, someone more experienced but frankly who cares. We all have strong attributes, parts of us that we are proud of and parts of us that our friends and family love. Believe in that and be happy about the person you are.
KEY TIP – Write down your strengths, what are you good at, what makes you different? In such a competitive field what makes you different is your strength.
As I said this by no mean an exhaustive list, these are just 3 of the techniques I use to prevent me hiding in my fridge after seeing my confidence taking a beating!
The best piece of advice I would say though is to share. My friends and family are the best of me. Having them at my back always gets me through thick and thin. That and having a hedgehog but that is for a different blog post!