Earlier this week, I started editing a session and found myself HATING my work. There wasn’t anything wrong with the clients; I loved the shoot itself but for some reason when I got to work the next morning editing I hated everything about the work I was doing. Editing this particular session should have just taken a few hours but turned into almost three days of work off and on because I just couldn’t get pleased with the “finished” look.
I did everything normal. My process didn’t change at all. The session was normal. The culling went great. I started editing like I always do with my custom presets but for some reason everything just looked terrible to me. At first I thought maybe I was just too distracted while editing and I need to just take a walk to clear my head and come back with fresh eyes but I think that just made my feelings toward my work worse.
I then decided I should reset everything and just start over. Not touch my presents and just work the images how I would without them. Still hated my work. Something was off; I just couldn’t figure out what. After a day of frustration, I set everything to export and prayed that I would wake up and not doubt the images that I was about to send out to my clients. I woke up and still hated them. I felt like I was failing my clients and I couldn’t send them out if I wasn’t happy with them yet.
I knew that I couldn’t take another day of fighting with the images and myself; I needed a solid break from them so I started taking care of other work that needed to be done like my book keeping and some housework. Throughout the day, I kept thinking about what was going so wrong with this session for me. Why did I hate my work so much?
Later that day I was sitting on the couch with my husband as he unwinds from the day with some TV and I was browsing through Facebook photography groups like I normally do to unwind when it hit me. This was the problem. One of the groups that I was (yes, “was”, I removed myself that night!) was filled with so much negativity, photographers hating on themselves, on other professionals, and even hating on their clients. No one was asking for advice, they were just there to rant. Now, I am human and I need a good rant session sometimes too (Hell, this may even be considered a rant!) but I realized that I was consuming too much negativity.
Reading posts from these other photographers hating their work and others was making me doubt myself. If some of these photographers that I admire hate their work or hate peoples work that have a similar style to mine, why do I not hate my work? I was making myself hate what I was doing because of other people’s negativity.
After removing myself from that group, I needed put my mind in a happy place again so I went through my email and read all the wonderful things my clients had to say about the work that I have done from them. Their opinion is what matters. I am allowed to do what I LOVE for a living because of them.
Now that I have edited the session with my normal confidence and am reflecting back one the struggle that I had this week with it, I know that I am not alone here with these feelings. The feeling of doubt in your work. Feeling like you will never be as good and so-and-so; that you will never make as much as whoever; that you will never have as many followers as that person….the list goes on and on. But what good are these feelings doing for you? Nothing.
If you are like me this week and struggling with the work that you are creating, stop and ask yourself why. Is it because you are comparing your work too much against “more successful” photographers? Are you struggling to get clients to book? Do you have gear envy? Then ask yourself where those thoughts are stemming from and remove the source – even if it means unfollowing some groups or specific photographers for a while as you work on yourself and your work.
Switch your focus to you. What makes you happy. What inspires you. What your clients love about your work. Experiment. Remember that you don’t know what other photographers’ behind the scenes is really like and the things they struggle with. We all just put the best of the best stuff out for the world to see and hide the things that make us weak. It’s not fair to compare your worst to everyone else’s best.
I hope my struggles this week with self-doubt can help you in some way.