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  • Writer's pictureEmily Irwin

It's time for me to be a bit vulnerable about photography...

Updated: Jan 14

I don't know about you, but I feel imposter syndrome setting in all of the time. All. Of. The. Time! And that's especially true with photography. And the weird thing is, this is even with my 20+ years experience with photography, both film and digital.

I originally set out to become a photojournalist when I left high school, but that was 2004 which was right when DSLR cameras were really starting to take hold so anyone could take a good picture, and the competition became super high. I also had the realization that I didn't want to work my life away so I kind of just stopped wishing to be a professional photographer.

I spent years taking photos of friends and family, I was always the one documenting our experiences. I was also always the one sharing our lives on social media (yes, even in the infancy of Facebook). It became expected that I would be the one taking photos, and once smartphones, and more specifically iPhones came into play, I was ALWAYS taking photos. I LOVED it! Still do! A good friend of mine had a baby (11 years ago now, holy canoli) and I am responsible for like 75% of the photos of her son in those early years, hah! He was too stinkin' cute!

I still obviously had the photography bug even though my life had changed course multiple times since leaving high school. Although I didn't want to be a photojournalist any longer, I still longed to be a photographer. This came about in jealousy of watching posts go by of friends or strangers talking about their photography businesseses. At the time I didn't realize the jealousy was there, and just envied them because they were doing something creative. I kept thinking, "I could do that, but I don't have the money to leave my job." In reality my priorities were just not there.

Fast forward to the middle of the pandemic, my unemployment was about to run out and I needed to figure out how to be a SAHM while also making regular money. I decided to finally take the plunge and try out being a photographer. I didn't have the big scaries from leaving a full-time job to start a photo business, I was coming up out of not working at all. It was easy. The transition was great. I was finally super happy with what I was doing! Still am I might say.

However, that doesn't stop me from feeling like I don't deserve this, that others are better, that I don't actually know what I'm doing (but I know that's not true), and the list can go on and on forever. I think it's very common for artists to feel this creep in at times. I mean, creativity and art are so subjective and you can never actually be "the best" or "perfect" because there are no true metrics to measure against.

Of course you could look at the number of clients another photographer has, but maybe they have that many clients because they are not charging as much as you. Maybe they don't have as much experience as you and that's why they're not charging as much. Then you could look at another photographer and think that they are so much better than you, technically. But that's your opinion, and someone else may look at your work and think the same thing. Being an artist is a fickle thing.

I know all of this, but that does not stop the imposter syndrome. It never stops and I think I have to accept that I AM good enough. I AM a good photographer. I AM worthy of that title. I wanted to write this quick post as a "love letter" of sorts to anyone feeling the way I have been feeling lately. You ARE good enough, you ARE a (fill in the blank), and you DO deserve that title.

What do you tell yourself to remind yourself that you are good enough in those moments when imposter syndrome creeps in?

If you want to read more of my ramblings (and get some exclusive offers) you should sign up to become an Emmy & Ollie Photography VIP member!

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