Above: Image by Gina Milicia
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford
There is one accessory I believe every photographer must possess to guarantee they nail the shot. You won’t find this on Amazon, B&H or most camera stores, and second hand versions are useless. This accessory must be acquired new and like great hiking boots, you need to break it in.
A word of caution – with all good things – too much can be dangerous. It’s a delicate balancing act but when you get it right, this accessory will make you unstoppable.
So what is this amazing accessory? Is it a lens, camera, light modifier, tripod? Nope, none of the above. The accessory that I speak of is confidence. When you have confidence in your abilities to get the job done, life as a photographer becomes so much easier, and it shows.
Confidence is something that develops slowly. The definition of confidence is:
The feeling or belief that one can have faith in, or rely on someone or something.
Having confidence in your abilities to get the job done comes from practice.
If you’ve been in a situation many times before and the outcome is the same, then you develop the confidence to know that the outcome will be the same, or similar as last time you were in the same position.
I have complete confidence in Nutella making me happy because I’ve eaten hundreds of jars and the outcome is always the same. Pure bliss.
I also have confidence in my ability to walk across a room without falling on my face. I know this because I’ve now done it tens of thousands of times.
I also know that the first time I attempted to walk across a room, I did fall flat on my face. I would do this more than a hundred times before I finally got the hang of it. I would take a step, fall, cry, get up, have another go, take two steps, rinse repeat. Now, I don’t wanna brag but I reckon I was pretty good at walking by age two, and now that I’ve been doing it for almost half a century I would say I’ve almost mastered it.
Learning to shoot in manual mode was a very similar experience. I’d have a go, fall, cry, pick myself up, stagger around uncertainly for a while until bit by bit I worked it out.
It’s not one single moment that gave me this confidence but the cumulative effect of many monuments yielding the same result.
So, if you’d like to add this accessory to your arsenal, start finding opportunities to train the areas you are weakest in.
If you lack confidence in posing models, then do more shoots that require you to pose people.
If lighting is your weakness then practise more lighting setups until it becomes second nature.
Likewise for exposure and focus. Force yourself to light, expose and focus under extreme pressure so that when it’s time to do it for reals you will be ready and confident in your abilities to nail the shot.
A word of warning though. A little bit of confidence is a great thing, overconfidence is dangerous on a shoot.
I know from experience that whenever I have gone into a shoot overconfident I usually end up stuffing it up or coming away with average shots. You can never guarantee things will go well for you 100% of the time. It’s that awareness that shite can go wrong that keeps me on my toes and ensures I don’t miss crucial shots because I didn’t check my focus or was shooting on the wrong shutter speed.
So next time you head out don’t forget to take your confidence with you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to my training with Nutella…