Help! I Don’t Know If I’m Good or Bad | Dear Devlin

Dear Devlin.

How do you know how good/bad you are? Trying to place where you are in the market by looking at those around you is overwhelming. While I try not to compare, knowing where I fit within the grand scheme is useful as it helps inform my pricing and my creative goals.. My portfolio might be the best it’s ever been but it’s so hard to be objective. I know every wedding is different and an element of ‘production value’ will always play a role in how others perceive the images. On one hand I fear I’m undervaluing what I’m producing, the next minute I feel delusional. Please help!

LostTog

Dear LostTog

Ahhhhhh, what a question! How do you know how good or bad you are. It sounds like there is a lot going on with your inner voice. Most of us have one and they can be quite the critics! I often feel like mine are the two old guys sitting on the balcony in The Muppets. “You were great, that’s the best photo I’ve ever seen.” ” It wasn’t that good, I thought it was mediocre!” “You’re right it wasn’t all that, in fact it was terrible!”

Most of the time it’s just “That was terrible!”. Before Waldorf and Statler convince me to give it all up, I like to imagine me shoving them off that balcony. We are our own worst critics much of the time. I’m convinced that it’s because as children, Brits are told to not show off. It’s no wonder we are often hard on ourselves.

Some other cultures do more to encourage their offspring to shine and it instils more confidence (generally speaking).

Are people paying you to take photographs? Then you are good.
Do your clients give you positive feedback? Then you are good.
Do you enjoy being a photographer? Then you are good.

Are people refusing to pay you to take photographs? Then you are bad.
Do your clients give you negative feedback? Then you are bad.
Do you not enjoy being a photographer? Then you are bad.

It sounds like you have a bad case of comparisonitis. It is common amongst photographers and the cure is to shift your focus inside not outside. Are you 100% happy with your website, and your social media? Are you happy with how you present your pricing or is there work to be done on any of these? Do you have a strategy when it comes to your portfolio and what is included? Is it up to date and all killer, no filler?

If you don’t feel sure about how you’d answer these, it might be a good time to book a website/portfolio review – Get an expert overview with someone who can be objective. This could help you to feel less overwhelmed and have more confidence in how you are presenting yourself.