My most challenging moment as a photographer happened during a hot, summer week. I was inside a photography studio trying to make myself a louder person. My instructor (a teacher at this studio) turned on Screamo music for me to try to give posing instructions louder. I was pushing my voice and natural personality, giving my heart and soul into trying to be a loud, extroverted photographer. I made progress, but coming back that night I realized that this definitely was not for me.
This was one of my most challenging moments as a photographer. Looking back, I can see now that this practice was frankly pretty ridiculous. However at the time, when I was just beginning my photography career, I was worried that I wouldn’t succeed. I believed I was too quiet, too unassuming, not loud enough, not funny or extroverted enough.
I was so wrong!
There are definitely challenges to being an introvert as a photographer.
I still get nervous before almost every single photoshoot. I often feel anxious when I know I have an hour alone with a stranger ahead, full of talking with them to make them feel comfortable and have a good time, while trying to create strong images and poses.
But at the same time, there are a lot of benefits to being an introvert as a photographer.
For example, I’m a great listener and observer. I ask questions and genuinely hear what you’re sharing with me. This helps me give clients a great experience, because as I listen to you, and get to know you better, I understand better what photography approach would best highlight you.
I pay attention to details. This helps me in posing, because I notice what adjustments to make to help you look good on camera. This helps me with product and fashion photography as well, because I pay attention to the product and make sure it looks it’s best. I straighten, smooth, slightly move, and tweak things, and these little details can transform a good image into a great one.
Since I’ve gained professional experience in photography, I’ve learned that I don’t have to be a loud, extroverted person to be successful. I have learned how to direct and guide models and people very well. However I didn’t do that by having a louder voice or being more outgoing. I learned that by paying attention to detail, and being assertive in directing the shoot.
If you’re a business owner or photographer struggling with this same challenge, I would recommend reading this book called Quiet by Susan Cain. This book talks about the value of being an introverts, and helped me understand myself better. As an introvert, it’s easy to feel like you just don’t have the people skills to succeed. However this is so not true! There are many introverts who have made incredible contributions to society and have been successful in “extroverted” careers. This list includes people like Emma Watson, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Gates, Roy Rogers, and more.
I hope you learned something reading about my most challenging part of being a photographer! If you’re an introvert, how have you learned to embrace who you are vs. trying to be someone else? And how has being an introvert helped you succeed?