Someone has just bought their first “good camera” and immediately started “photography business,” proudly showing off their work which is… well, not really good. You’ve all seen these guys and perhaps asked yourself: why do bad photographers think they’re good? In this video, Jamie Windsor explains why this happens, and why people have so much self-confidence before they really master photography. It’s an interesting video, and I think it will make you look at things differently.
This amount of beginner’s self-esteem can be explained through Dunning–Kruger effect. It’s a cognitive bias when people assess their ability as being higher than it actually is. It often happens that a person perceives oneself as being highly competent in a particular area, even though their skills are still pretty low. As they learn more, their perceived ability drops. Here’s a graph that illustrates it:
Before we proceed, keep in mind that everyone is susceptible to Dunning–Kruger effect to some extent. So, don’t feel bad if you feel like you’ve recognized it within you. As Jamie points out, this initial rush of confidence isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you’re still at the beginning of your photographic journey it can push you forward and help you explore and learn. As a result, you’ll improve your skills. But if you want to gain a more objective view of your abilities as a photographer, here are some steps you can take.
1. Beware of feeling comfortable
When you start feeling comfortable with your work: challenge yourself. Change something and learn something new, that’s the only way to grow. Don’t let yourself stay in the comfort zone for too long.
2. Learn to let go of old work
Try to forget about your old work and stop getting back to it. Instead, try to build on it and move forward.
3. Ask for feedback and critique
Don’t be afraid to ask for critique and constructive feedback from other photographers. There’s an important point to keep in mind, and Jamie didn’t forget to mention it: the critique that gets to you is probably the most important because you know they’re right.
If you post your work to social media, don’t only rely on “likes.” But on the other hand, don’t listen to the internet “trolls” either. Ask for genuine, honest critique from the photographers you appreciate.
4. Always keep learning
Don’t forget: you’ve never learned everything. Photography is constantly changing, so always keep learning and stay informed.
5. Feeling bad about your old work
It’s important to understand that, if you feel bad about your old work, it means that you’re improving. If today you feel a bit ashamed of the old work you once thought was brilliant – don’t worry, it’s a good sign!
Finally, Jamie adds a few more pieces of advice to keep you down to earth and help you grow. Move out of your comfort zone and of fashionable trends. Instead, look at different kinds of photography and expand your views. Also, think about why you’re doing things, not just how to do them. And remember, there’s nothing bad in feeling good about your work, but keep in mind that you should always aim to outgrow yourself.
[Why BAD Photographers THINK They’re Good | Jamie Windsor]