oh... hm... I need a bit of encouragement ...


Been spending a lot of time on here!
Sep 4, 2013
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My whole "photography life" is online. I'm serious. The only photographers I spoke to live are @limr , her boyfriend, and a former member of this forum (I'll mention also @binga63 and @The_Traveler via Skype)... Every conversation I had about photography was online.

I finally decided to see is there any photo clubs around my area. I figured it's time to enter the real world and hopefully meet some photographers. Maybe I'll meet someone interesting, maybe I'll go to an exhibition or two, maybe I'll learn something etc.

I sent an email to the only photo club I could go to. They haven't replied for a few days and I decided to call a number on their website.

The person I spoke with is a member of the jury on various international competitions, has some photography title idk what was it and all in all we had a very pleasant conversation.

He started to talk about courses they organize and I said that the courses aren't the reason I called, I called because I would like to meet other photographers, be a part of exhibitions etc.... and I said something like "I don't need a course, I'm into photography for a few years now..." and there was the trouble...

Completely unexpected trouble! I couldn't even say I'm a photographer. I felt completely incompetent and felt like my place isn't in any exhibition. Oh God, I don't even have any picture I could print and hang somewhere and show to other photographers!

I know I know stuff about photography and editing it's not about that. I could talk about that... but showing pictures to other photographers who are good in what they do ... In real life! Standing beside them. Oh God no! I can't do it. Saying out loud, in real life "Yes, I'm a photographer". I can't! Is anything I've done worthy of showing? I don't even know how much my picture (any of my picture) is worth (in money)? Am I any, and I mean any good?

I calmed down after initial "almost panic attack" and I'm not panicking now a few hours after the conversation, not at all, but I'm not any better in terms of thinking about this whole mess... seriously thinking of giving up. I don't want to give up but I don't have enough of courage for this. It took me 6 years to make that move and start to ask questions about photography in my area.
6 years to feel that I'm ready to print something and show the print to someone I could see in person! And now I know I'm not ready at all.

I could also say that I'm a communicative/outgoing person and I'll rather talk in person than writing online, but it seems that with photography I'm really not anything like that.

I'm blushing even while writing this. How to gather the courage and not go away from this? What can I tell to myself?
I don't want to give up, I want to be able to say "At least I tried".
I think your anxiety is fairly common among newly-created artists. You know you are an artist, but nobody else knows that. The feeling that you have is like trying to imagine going naked in public. Right now you are insecure, but after you realize that everybody else is naked too, then you begin to relax.
My experiences with other photographers, particularly in clubs, is that they are less than they seem at first.
It's nice to have friends who are photographers if only because you can talk about common joys.
I go to a local club but don't expect really to learn anything; I go for the comradery.
In terms of how you will 'measure up', you have nothing to be concerned about.
I've never seen any of your work large enough to see the technical stuff but that's really ancillary.
You have what most people don't have - and never get.
You have a vision, you know what you want to create and see - everything else can be learned if you need it.

I remember the first work of yours I saw, that picture, taken through a doorway at a low angle, of an old woman in the next room and I thought at that time that you really had something that can't be taught, that feeling for how to make an image that conveys what you see.

I guess I never have understood all this angst over photography. What is the big deal about not being good enough? Good enough for what? Good enough for who?

Who exactly is your competition? Who is the judge of what you do?

The entire world has become political. No matter where you go, there will be someone who wants you to be inferior to them. You will be, when you allow yourself to be. If you are willing to become intimidated by the opinion of someone you don't know from Adam, then that's your decision.

Strap on a pair! Tell me just what you have to lose?

If this is a hobby for you, then who cares what you turn out? You do it for your enjoyment and you will only allow someone to take that enjoyment away from you if you are willing to be intimidated by them. Or harassed by them. Or talked down to by them.

You have two feet, you can walk away if someone starts. This isn't a life long commitment you're making. You can find someone who is willing to discuss photography with you. If they don't exist in this group, then you tried and you don't go back. There are cliques which appeal to snobs. Ignore them unless you are willing to be a snob too.

I play guitar and I go to the guitar forums on occasion. They're constantly filled with people who are so intimidated by others they don't even know. The fear of the unknown mostly.

What if I embarrass myself?

You won't be the first. Or the last.

They really don't seem to grasp the idea everyone has some talent and your talent doesn't need to be the same as their talent.

They simply can't grasp the idea everyone starts somewhere. No matter who you are, there will be someone better than you and someone who doesn't know something you do.

Then, one day, they finally work up the courage to head to a jam session and they find most people at a jam are also there looking for someone to play with. And to have a good time.

Most jams are very easy going places and they'll allow you to sit back and play rhythm or they'll hand you a simple lead for a few bars of a 12 bar blues. Very, very few jams are the type where someone is out to be the ass who makes everyone else miserable. The groups tend to weed those folks out.

And when these players come back from their first jam, they almost always find they are better players because they put themself in a position that was outside of their comfort zone of sitting alone in their bedroom. Pretty soon they're making the jam a regular occurrence.

If you want to not be part of a group, sit at home. If you want to be intimidated by someone on the phone, sit at home. If you want to never be told you have something interesting to say, sit at home.

If you want none of that, go to the club.
I've seen several stand-out images posted here, so why not just get off your butt and re-process them for printing and have them printed??????? You don't have to make wall art, but some nice 8x10s or 11x14s, 3-4, that would be more than a respectable portfolio for a local club. As Lew mentions, your 'old woman' shot was really good, and you've done a couple of recent ones that would be equally strong... quit the pity-party and get on with it!

What can I tell to myself?

'Self, I see how different opinions are because I spend enough time reading posts on TPF'. You can't please everyone, so make your art to please yourself. There are enough of us out there to always have someone that will enjoy your vision.
I hope you find a club or photo buddy mmaria. Don't quit, that's easy. I joined one right about the same time I joined here. The salty guy from the group took me under his wing. Funny thing is, I suspect he is not well liked by the majority in group because he speaks his mind. He is accomplished and yells at me a lot.. But I like it, my wife does the same thing so I feel at home. He says I'm in to much of a hurry. He is becoming a good friend and I learn a lot from him. I'm the only one in the group that is not a professional so it's a little intimidating. Last meeting I was totally lost, just listened and viewed. They are a room full of Derrel's which is a good thing but my head can get that spinning feeling. I make good coffee I'm told.[emoji4]

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What I remember first seeing your photos is that you showed some talent, and probably would continue to learn and practice and get even better as you go. You've only been a photographer for 6 years, that isn't very long for those of us who have been photographers for, um years...

Maybe just go to one meeting, as a visitor/guest, and see what it's like. It might be a good fit for you, or not. You've only talked to one person so far, go see what the rest of the bunch is like.

There isn't a club in my area but I enjoy art exhibit openings, they give you little snacks on little sticks, and there's wine! I find that going to an event etc. might just be a one time thing, or it might lead to some other opportunity - just try going once and see where it leads (or doesn't). Then if you want to join and get a portfolio together people here could help you with that.

And when you feel nervous, remind yourself to breathe (really, helps you be a little more calm). I would still get nervous/excited to talk to a group or whatever, even after years of running meetings etc. I think it's a matter of getting over the hump, getting started and then the nervous excitement eases up. Breathe!!! lol
I'm not a very social person so I won't be of any help to you on this.

I recently drove 12 hours to Ann Arbor to do the FPP Photo Walk because I wanted to meet some of the folks from the FPP podcast, and a few of their associates who I enjoy listening to. That's just about the only "social" I have done over the last 35 years of photography (not counting exhibit openings when I do a show).

All I can say is never worry about what others think of your work, don't give them purchase in your head. Do what you want, be who you want, shoot what you want any way you want to and if others like it that's just dandy... if they don't, well, that's their problem.
First, you are your own worst critic and you're much better than you think you are.

Second, don't worry so much about what the others may think. Chances are, they are just as insecure, and if they're not, then they're probably overrating themselves ;) Screw 'em!
Let me assure you mmaria that your work is simply excellent and absolutley deserves a place in a gallery. Latley I've only seen you get better as you refine your ideas and it is absolutley working. Now I've spent a bit of time in some art galleries in various countries, been to a fair few local art shows too and if I saw your shots there you bet I'd be stopping to look.
You have a camera on the way -- you are not allowed to quit. Seriously, you do fine work so don't worry about it; get a few of your better shots printed and see what happens.

Yes Your work is very good.Keep doing what your doing.
Marija, you go excellent work. You've got the eye. Take your work that you have on Flickr and print a few - mainly to understand how the printed image will look. You have enough to put together a theme. When I originally joined my local camera club, I felt very intimidated at the beginning. There were people there with so much experience, so much good gear! And then, looking that the images in the competitions - I found that the range of ability was very wide. Certainly some images were breath-takingly beautiful. But so many more were "pretty" but rather conventional and formulaic. So many were trying to imitate other images that they saw and admired. When I put my images up in the competitions, they actually were somewhere in the middle of the pack - not the best, but certainly not the worse either. I would say your eye is actually better than mine, and your processing skills are better as well. Put on your brave face, print some of your images and share them. Remember, the only things they can give you are their opinions.

You ARE a photographer. You don't need to convince anyone of that. You do want to share and learn. That's what it is all about.
You're an OUTSTANDING PHOTOGRAPHER Marija. Just get involved and get the experience dealing with it. You'll find that you are far better than you give yourself credit for.

As far as getting into exhibitions, go to a few and feel things out. I think you'll do an amazing job.

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