Is your lack of confidence holding you back?

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Do you know what the most difficult thing is about photography? Do you know what holds you back most of all? It’s not the camera, or the person you’re photographing, or lack of experience – it’s CONFIDENCE. Get that right, and the rest will just follow – trust me.

Having spent many years teaching people to be photographers, this word crops up constantly. In every seminar that I have trained, the key thing I have to deal with is people’s lack of confidence in themselves and their ability to sell their pictures.

Well the good news is that I understand because I’VE BEEN THERE TOO! I too was that fraud! The person who didn’t really know what they were doing with a camera, but just loved taking pictures and working with people.

When I first started in photography I thought I wasn’t good enough; I thought I needed to know all about the technical side, and I felt a fraud for taking pictures without really understanding my camera.

I bought big cameras, tripods, lights, went on courses – tried everything, until one day I just realised that it wasn’t about what I didn’t know – it wasn’t that I was wrong – I was just different. That light bulb moment changed my life – I gained the confidence and belief in myself to do what I FELT was right and I’ve never looked back.

The first seminar I ever went to was in 1989 – it was a week long and held in Tunisia. I was so scared that I took my husband with me, so that when all the other photographers found out I didn’t know what I was doing, I would just be able to have a holiday!

I spent a week learning all sorts of things (some good, a lot bad) and then at the end of the week I put a picture into a print critique – it was totally slated, and I was absolutely gutted.  I left the room, holding back the tears, to pack and go home – I fully intended to give up photography because I felt totally useless and stupid – my belief and dreams had been shattered in the time it took for someone to tell me “the horizon line wasn’t straight” in my picture.

Fortunately for me I met a highly respected photographer coming out of the lift and he said to me “by the way – I think that is a fantastic picture.” If he hadn’t said that to me, I would not be where I am today. I owe my confidence to that person – he taught me that different people have different opinions, and he gave me the confidence to believe in myself.

The following year I went back to the same course, determined to show them I could do it – and I won 4 of the top 5 prizes – losing out on 4th prize to a picture of a bottle of Harpic toilet cleaner! (No – I have no idea either!)

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Do you want to know why I think so many people lack confidence in this industry? Well I’m going to tell you! I think it’s because it has always been taught by technical men! THERE – I’VE SAID IT!!!

Before I get bombarded by lots of fantastic male photographers – I am not saying that every man is a techy – but in the past, most of them were. Photography has traditionally been taught as a highly technical subject, and photographers have been led to believe they can’t take a picture unless they have tons of equipment and know everything about it. Many photography books and courses are totally boring, and you have to wade through so much stuff, you fall asleep and become disinterested. Amazing for a subject that is actually very creative, being taught in such a non-creative way.

20 years ago I was often the only woman on the seminars – I was totally confused by the condescending attitude of many of the teachers, to the way I took photos. They told me I had to have a tripod, a flashgun and lots of lenses – and I spent lots of money trying to do it their way – but it NEVER FELT RIGHT.  Even people in camera shops made me feel crap because I asked them questions and they laughed at me for the simplicity of those questions. Camera shops haven’t changed a bit – they are still the same today – full of scary looking equipment and nothing to do with the dream of photography. If I ran camera shops I would do it completely differently (but that’s a whole new ballgame!).

It was only when another photographer (a nice, non-techy man!) suggested I just do it my way and get on with it – that things started to change for me – I abandoned all my unnecessary equipment and went out and shot pictures the way I wanted.  I got the best camera I could afford and learnt how to set it up easily so I didn’t need to change it – which allowed me to concentrate on WHAT I was photographing, rather than what I was photographing WITH.

I learnt to believe in myself by listening to my clients – THEY ARE THE PEOPLE THAT COUNT – not other photographers and critics. My clients LOVED what I was doing – so surely that was enough?

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Crucial fact that I’ve learnt from teaching photographers – MEN AND WOMEN LEARN IN DIFFERENT WAYS.

I have found that MOST men love researching on the Internet – they will spend hours looking for the right site/camera/review/blog, etc. and learn from everything they read. They usually want to know EVERYTHING about a camera before they buy it. I have found that MOST women do not like learning like this. They want someone to point them in the right direction, tell them what works best, and then they can just get on with it. They don’t want to know everything about their camera before they buy it. What they really want to know is that they can trust it, it will be easy to use and it does the job they want it to do. And there are also a lot of men now learning like this…

It’s for these reasons that I have launched this website. I am a person who totally believes in photography and the wonderful hobby or career it can be – sharing this knowledge with you is paramount to what I do – the more people that gain confidence in themselves, both men and women; the more great photographers there will be out there, and the more FUN you’ll have with your camera. Once you learn how to ENJOY photography without being held back by lack of confidence – you’ll be able to really move forward!

Working together to share our knowledge means we will all be able to share in the dream of photography. We’re living in very exciting times – never before has photography been so easy and so accessible to everyone. Bring on the revolution! Let’s change the way photography is taught – I’ll show you how to gain confidence – so you will never look back. You will believe that you can do it – because YOU CAN DO IT!

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Annabel x