I confess…

….that while I’ve been taking pictures of dogs and cats for almost 10 years and make my living as a photographer, I still have frequent, plentiful, sometimes overwhelming insecurities about my work.

I am my own worst critic, finding fault in even the best images.

Where a client is delighted, I am frustrated.

I worry I am getting stale. And producing the same images with every shoot. The same ‘boring’ images.

I focus, every time, on the faults of an image, not the strengths.

I think I don’t have a very creative eye, and envy those who do. It’s nearly impossible for me to ‘create’ a scene in my head. I’m great at working with what’s given to me, but to create it from scratch is another matter.

Even when I get emails from clients that start like this: “Oh my god I love them so much!! Awesome!!”, often it goes right over my head and all I can think of is “I could have done better”.

And sometimes, after some sessions, I really truly feel that I just downright suck. And wonder why in the world anyone would want to hire me, let alone pay me money for products. I think “Jeez, I’m such a fraud! I’m NOT a good photographer, I’m AWFUL!!”.

Now this isn’t to say that I don’t give myself credit from time to time. I do feel proud of myself in ‘general’ terms and usually know when I really nailed a shot.

I know I should give myself more credit for good composition and moderately decent exposure, considering I still don’t fully understand the relationship between ISO + aperture + shutter speed + metering type. (That may be the crux of my problems right there). You’d think that after over 7 years of photographing dogs and cats professionally I’d have all of this stuff figured out! But nooooooo….

I probably should pat myself on the back for making a living at something that I never formally studied and ‘figuring it all out’ the hard way.

But ultimately I just want to be better. A LOT better. I know I have great (GREAT) room for improvement. I suspect it will take me another 10 years of shooting to be satisfied with my own work.

I want to strive to improve on what I have, and continue to be more and more pleased with the results. To not just knock my client’s socks off, but knock my own socks off as well. I’m not there yet, but I really hope to be one day.

I wanted to express these self-doubts because I hoped that by sharing my own insecurities it will help others reading this blog to realize that everyone has them, including me.

I believe these insecurities of ‘not being good enough’ are a common condition of man and something that all humans struggle to overcome, and it is when we share these vulnerabilities with each other that we become bonded together as a whole, and realize “I am not alone”.

Now, I’m off to read my photography books and play around with the custom settings on my camera in an effort to make a teensy bit of a difference in my next session.

Until next time, remember, you are better than you think you are, worse than you’d like to be, but plenty good enough for everyone else.:-)

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January 29, 2011 - 8:39 am

erika - Thanks for this, Jaimie! I know I’m my own worst critic as well, and it can be crippling when I’m trying to put myself out there and get business.
I think I have the iso/shutter/aperture down….but I’ve never changed my metering type. oops! Perhaps I’ll study that today as well!

January 29, 2011 - 8:43 am

Lori - i could have written this, i am my worst enemy and have crippled myself many times.. nothing is good enough. I work on that part of “me” all the time. I look at it this way, I am always trying to improve, everyday, so it pushes me. :) Love your work!!!

January 29, 2011 - 8:49 am

Debbie - Love this!! Thanks for making it seem normal to have all there feelings :)

January 29, 2011 - 8:57 am

Leanne - You could have written that word for word with me. Glad to say it doesn’t show in your work, but I know telling you not to worry won’t make you stop instantly so I will just come join you and sit in the self doubt corner

January 29, 2011 - 9:29 am

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January 29, 2011 - 10:16 am

Deborah - Jamie,

Your feelings are normal. I’ve heard lots of photographers go through this. I have too.

Take a day to photograph something else for a change, just for fun, not pet related. It can freshen the mind’s eye. I loved that I finally was able to go leaf peeping last fall in the Sierra’s during peak color to capture images of all that beautiful color. What a wonderful day it was!

Probably doesn’t help that we’re all still in the winter doldrums. One the sun comes out again, things will start looking up! :-D

January 29, 2011 - 10:21 am

Kim K - yep…even though I am no where near a pro photographer, I feel that Jamie has taken these words right out of my head!! My big struggle is also creativity! I have always been IN the BOX, so getting out of the box has been a challenge.! I guess we all struggle at times. Hang in there!

January 29, 2011 - 1:41 pm

Jackie - Jamie, I wish I had half the talent and creativity that you have. I guess we are all our own worst critics…

January 29, 2011 - 3:32 pm

april - Thank you for posting this Jamie! I can relate with so much of what you wrote. I think it’s especially bad in the wintertime, when things slow down a bit allowing more time for me to nitpick my own work.

January 29, 2011 - 7:11 pm

Rachel - First of all, you do beautiful work. Whenever I am in my own slump, I come and look at your photography and think, maybe if I keep trying I’ll be able to capture beautiful pictures just like that.

January 29, 2011 - 8:27 pm

Sharon - I am not a professional photographer, yet I feel this way constantly. The more time goes on, the more I learn, but the worse I feel about my photos, which doesn’t even make sense. Lately I can’t even make myself post anything because to me it’s all crap. Same old same old. There’s so much better out there then what I have to look at.

I have to say, I’m surprised to hear you feel this way Jamie. As someone else said, maybe you need to challenge yourself with a new subject, or a new way to view your current subject, I don’t know. Only you can find the answer, and I’m sure you will.

All the best, Sharon

January 31, 2011 - 6:36 am

johnwaire - …it’s a journey — one that we all need to truly soak up and enjoy as we experience it. until my hand can no longer depress the shutter…i will struggle with these same feelings. you’re right though, there’s comfort in knowing that we’re not alone in our self-criticism + desire to get better…so that we may ultimately deliver to our clients…and most importantly…to ourselves! keep on keeping on…

January 31, 2011 - 9:59 am

Jeremiah Barba - Love your work! I especially enjoy the quest to capture each animal’s personality… keep it up!

February 2, 2011 - 6:01 pm

mavele - Thanks for share your toughts Jamie, I feel the same. You are an inspiration for my, I love your work. And please

February 3, 2011 - 4:37 pm

kristie kulik - when I get a crap shot- it is because I suck and have no right owning a camera…when I get a great shot, I call it dumb luck. I know exactly how you feel!!!

February 3, 2011 - 10:50 pm

denise - You took the words right outta my head. Fo realzz. I think sometimes I’m afraid to admit that I might do go work for fear the next time I go shooting, I’ll fail miserably. It should be said though that I dearly love your work…I think it’s great!

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