Photographer Confessions: Pretender Syndrome.

Recently, someone asked me what I do. 
I answered, “I’m a photographer.”

Makes sense, right, cause like I take a lot of pictures and have lots of cameras + people hire me to photograph things.

But as I made the declaration, “I am a photographer,” I felt a familiar pang of guilt + shame. What if I am merely pretending to be a photographer -  or worse - what if I am lying about it, even to myself. Meet my “pretender voice.”

No matter how many pictures I take, the pretender is never satisfied: 

  • “You just get lucky.”
  • “How hard is it to take pretty photos of a pretty couple in a purple field of flowers at sunset.”
  • “You don’t have enough Instagram followers because most people can see your clear lack of talent.”
  • “A real photographer would know what they are doing more than you do”
  • “Everyone else’s photos look better than yours”

While I am admitting to inner doubt about my photographic skill + creativity, I have no doubts about the prodigious creativity and prolific production of the Pretender Voice. Anyone else struggle with imposter syndrome? No - of course not, you are all real photog... - see what I mean?  

Maybe some of this comes from photography being my second career. Maybe it’s because my older brother was the “artist” of the family, so from early on I “wasn’t an artist” and therefore never pursued it formally. Maybe it’s because my deeply conservative religious upbringing was quite liberal with shame, trying to keep us from straying or becoming prideful. Or maybe it’s something else entirely - but I bet I am not actually the only one who struggles from time to time with this voice. 

Addendum - I have found gratitude to be my most effective strategy against the “pretender voice." I am grateful for everyone who lets me take their picture or who gets joy or transcendence from a photo I took. I am thankful for the couples I get to work with + the love I get to witness. I am thankful for all of the beauty my camera + lenses have allowed me to swim in and I am grateful for the many friends photography has introduced me to. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions!

Also - If you are interested in my photography - Check out my website!

Photographer + Storyteller. Pastor + Advocate. Schemer + Party commencer.