Photographer’s guide to overcoming imposter syndrome

What imposter syndrome is? Let’s first define it and then check some strategies to overcoming the imposter syndrome!

I’m not good enough.

What if I put something out there and it gets torn apart?

I am not quite there yet to charge what I should yet.

Do these thoughts sound familiar? Almost all of us experience these thoughts and thinking that we aren’t good enough.

I’ve felt these very thoughts. I’ve felt like a fraud. Like my clients could have gotten so much better. If I pretend to be as good as the photographers around me, that I tricked my clients. I’ve felt like I don’t deserve to get paid. That I haven’t got what I need to be successful. That I should’ve practiced more. That my editing style isn’t quite there yet. That I need to book ten more weddings before I can be profitable. That it will take at least two more years of low prices before I can raise them. I’ve thought I was too young to have higher prices. I feel like I’ve been through it all.

It has been a long journey, but I promise you the feelings can go away. You CAN build your confidence. I still have those feelings of not being good enough that come through. When my clients send me lovely reviews, I cringe. The negative thoughts come spiraling through, I can’t read them and I can’t reply to them. Those thoughts come in like, what do you know?

But for the most part, I feel like I am good enough and that I am worth it. Even though there might be better photographers out there. It is not about that. You don’t have to compete with them. You just have to be the best version of yourself.

I’m assuming you have heard of ‘imposter syndrome’; it’s when you doubt your skills, talents or things you’ve achieved and you feel like at any moment you are going to be exposed as a fraud—like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there due to luck. Despite that there is proof that shows you’re skilled and quite successful. Such as client reviews, awards won, money paid and photos published.

There is an expert in Imposter syndrome called Valerie Young, who wrote a book about it called, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women. Where she has identified five different kinds of imposter syndrome. I will tell you about the five and then will share with you how to overcome the imposter syndrome.

Perfectionists

Who have extremely high expectations for themselves, and even when they meet 99% of their goals, they feel like failures. Any small mistake will cause them to question themselves. They always think they could’ve done even better, which means they can’t succeed or move forward. Which isn’t productive or healthy. We have to learn to celebrate achievements to avoid burnout, grow in confidence and be happy.

Experts

They feel the need to know every piece of information before they take on a new project. They are always looking for new certifications or courses to improve their skills or maybe buying the newest camera model. Of course, you can always learn more but you have to be careful not to procrastinate. You are worthy of having a successful business and STILL learn. Ask for help, get a mentor and learn as you go instead of waiting till you feel ready because you never will be.

Natural genius

They feel like they have to make it on the first try. That if work or struggle is involved they’re not good enough. Often because they are used to things being easy for them. So, when something isn’t they avoid them. Instead of thinking that you need to know everything even before trying, think of yourself as a work in progress. To accomplish great things, you need to learn and grow.

Soloists

They feel they have to do things on their own. That asking for help means that they are a failure or a fraud. But really if you think of it, who can exist on their own? We all need each other!

Super people

Who work harder than those around them to try to prove they’re not impostors. They do this to cover their insecurities which can result in harming their mental health and relationships. They often feel they have to succeed in all areas of life and get stressed when they’re not accomplishing something. An important thing to note is that no one should have MORE power to make you feel good about yourself than you.

Does any one of these types feel familiar to you?

Do you see yourself as a perfectionist, expert, natural genius, soloist or superperson? I think I have a bit of all of them to be honest. But I am not letting that stop me and I hope you won’t either.

What can you do if you’re struggling with this? What should be your steps to overcoming the imposter syndrome?

Awareness

Be aware when these thoughts arise. Acknowledge them by asking yourself what they mean and how you can turn them into positive thoughts. 

Friendly reminders

Remind yourself that how you are and how you’re feeling is totally normal. 

Be open

Talk about it to your friends and loved ones. Let me know how you are feeling and let them in to offer advice. 

Learn

Remember that failure = learning opportunity. That everything we go through is meant for a reason and can teach us valuable lessons if we let them. Be open to failure and use it to grow deeper. 

Be kind

Be kind to yourself. Know that you have as much right to be wrong/have a bad day/make a mistake as anyone else. Remember to treat yourself with as much kindness as you would your best friend. 

Ask for support

Ask for help and know that it’s a bravest thing you can do for yourself. To move forward we all need that extra support and trust that we deserve to receive it. 

Visualisation 

Visualise success and know that you deserve to receive it. Think deeply about what you really want to achieve then take the necessary steps towards it. 

Feel vs fact 

Know that sometimes you should feel out of place but that doesn’t mean you are. 

Fake it till you make it

You have what it takes to succeed and remember that we all fake it until we make it. 

Celebrate 

Celebrate your success no matter how big or small and reward yourself with self-love. Do something for yourself that makes you feel extra special. While experiencing this remind yourself how amazing you are and what you have achieved only you could have done. 

What can YOU do differently going forward? Let me know in the comments below or contact me directly!

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Ingvild-Portrett

Hi, I'm Ingvild

I spend as much of my time as I can being outside taking photos of happy couples in love. I live with my dog and boyfriend in Norway, and I love traveling the world in search of beautiful locations and love stories.

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