Take Better Photos: Overcoming Discouragement

by guest contributor Gayle Vehar

I still remember the first photo I took where I swooned a bit and said, “I LOVE this. I want to take more photos like this!”  Do you remember your first great photo?  Here’s mine.

I still like this photo, but admittedly, if I took the same photo today, I wouldn’t swoon. It might not even make the I-am-going-to-edit-this cut!  THAT was the moment I “fell” for photography. That is the moment that made me want to learn more. From that moment on, I craved better photos! The deep-down kind of craved!
It didn’t come overnight for me. It came slowly. Day by day. Month by month. Year by year. It has taken weeks of discouragement and days of euphoria. It has taken hours of hard work and moments of bliss. It has taken practice and patience and, most of all, TIME.
What I didn’t count on was the discouragement that I would face along the way.  I didn’t foresee the feelings of inadequacy that would surface.  I hadn’t planned that I’d meet such a strong-willed inner critic that would continually remind me of all the reasons I should just give up and never photograph again!
The problem is that it is so easy to be discouraged.  It is the easier road. I’ve probably spent more time discouraged than not.  Just typing that is a little sad and discouraging :).
But if discouragement has you in its grasp, it isn’t the end of the world.  I want to share a few tricks I’ve used to beat discouragement when it has reared its ugly head!  Please share any other tips you have found helpful in the comments!

My 5 Tips for Overcoming Discouragement
Look back at hold photos and take pride in what you have learned.  If you have only been shooting for a short time, look back as far as you can.  If you have been shooting for a while, look back to photos from 2 years ago.  Looking back will help you realize just how far you’ve come!

Don’t Compare!  We begin by looking at others’ work under the guise of getting better.  BUT, what it often leads to is comparing our work to theirs—and then, ultimately, discouragement that our work isn’t as good as theirs.  Remember that when you are looking at others’ work, you are looking at their “highlight reel.”  Spend some time away (2 weeks is a good amount) from looking at others’ photography.  Use those two weeks to start a personal project that will help you improve.

Be Patient with Yourself!  It sounds a little cliché.  AND it is harder to DO than it is to type.  Patience with yourself will soothe discouragement and allow you to keep getting better over time.  Hush the inner critic with words of encouragement and affirmation.

Use Discouragement as Incentive!  How we deal with discouragement makes all the difference.  If you allow your discouragement to paralyze you and keep you from ever photographing again—it won!  But if you take the discouragement you feel and allow it to push you and challenge you to become better—then YOU win!  For me, writing out the discouraging thoughts and feelings helps “release” them into the world and out of my head.  Then I can look at things a bit more objectively and find my path to the other side.

Have Faith!  Have faith in yourself.  Have faith that you have improved and that you will continue to get better.  Have faith that others before you experienced discouragement and fought it, and that you can, too.
I know I still have lots more to learn.  I know that there will still be days of discouragement and weeks of feeling uninspired.  I know my inner-critic will still whisper that I should just give up.  But I also know there will be those wonderful photos that inspire me and cause me to swoon a bit.  There will be strength that comes from not listening to the discouragement.  There will be inspiration and joy!

If you are looking for a resource to help you improve your photography, I have recently written an e-book, and even self-published a soft-cover version, putting down on paper a lot of what I have learned over the years about taking better photos.

Why on earth would I do this?
I hoped it would help someone else learn quicker and faster than I did. I hoped it would inspire others on their journey to better photos.  I hoped it would save others some discouragement.

I wish you much joy in your journey to take better photos!


Hi!! I am Gayle. I am a wife to my handsome husband and mom to 4 beautiful kids. In my spare time, I am a photographer and blogger at Mom and Camera. I have a passion for sharing my love of photography with others. I teach local photography classes and regularly share photography tips and tricks on my blog. I hang out there a lot—I’d love you to stop by and visit!


Visit Gayle on her WEBSITE and FACEBOOK pages here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
amanda - June 18, 2012 - 9:40 am

Thank you for this! I’ve faced a lot of criticism from other photographers recently for asking questions & wanting to learn. In addition, I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to my photography. I second guess myself & my work and often feel discouraged because I still have so much to learn. It’s very refreshing for another photographer with experience & knowledge to share it with those who are in the beginning stages of turning a long time hobby & dream into a business. Thank you again :)

Ryne - June 18, 2012 - 9:40 am

Thanks, Gayle. I wish I could have read this two years ago. I would have been spared many headaches by my own self-criticism. The reminder is always welcomed.

Leanna Sutton - June 18, 2012 - 10:08 am

This could not have come at a better time for me. I have been trying to figure out how to make a separate business out of this and found myself look at my camera bag wondering why I haven’t taken any picture lately which lead into why am I even thinking about a business when I haven’t taken pictures. Plus your right, I have been comparing with photog pages that I have liked on FB. I need to move my “likes” from my personal page to my photog page so that I don’t see it every time I look at fb which in turns makes me compare. I love to see other photogs work, but I need to do it moderately rather then min by min. I need to dive into a project that I can try and focus on rather then focusing on FB pages. Don’t mind my rant I’m getting it out like you suggested lol. Thanks again to you Gayle and to RTS for this article.

Stephanie - June 18, 2012 - 10:54 am

Such great advice. To me, the key to overcoming discouragement is to shoot through it. Keep practicing, keep learning, and keep seeking out inspiration.

Amanda Bumgarner - June 18, 2012 - 2:38 pm

Great post! I feel this myself a lot of the time, but I am trying to get better. I think comparing yourself to other photographers can be dangerous, but I DO think that taking note of their composition and even what settings they use can be a great learning tool. Thanks for sharing your tips!

Pin Oak Hill - June 18, 2012 - 3:51 pm

Thanks for the great tips. It is fun to think about just getting crazy with your own photos and not comparing them to photos others take.

Lynne - June 18, 2012 - 5:55 pm

Your post comes to me today when I’m most discouraged about my photography. Thank you for your enlightening tips! I feel much better and have been reading them over and over again.

Gayle - June 18, 2012 - 9:13 pm

So happy this was helpful. It was a heart-felt written post. I think we all go through discouragement with things that we love and work hard at! Loved reading all the other ways that you deal with discouragement. Thanks for sharing!

audra - June 19, 2012 - 6:40 pm

Love this so much….it can be so daunting and the will to be “better than” your last session…creeps into your own work. i so appreciate your honesty.

Adrienne - June 19, 2012 - 8:02 pm

What an encouraging post! Yes, it is so easy to get discouraged especially when comparing work with others but it does drive me to always work towards getting better. At the moment I think I would be scared to look back at old work ; ) but you’re right that it would probably be a confidence booster. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

Sarah Crespo - June 27, 2012 - 3:15 pm

I definitely get discouraged, too. A lot. But I have to ask myself what’s the worst that could happen? My business doesn’t work out, and I just end up taking pictures anyway for my own personal enjoyment and not as a business? I love photography, so though it might not be what I originally wanted, I’m ok with it. But until then, I shall continue to work on my business and be proud of how far I’ve come :)

Kmole - June 28, 2012 - 7:53 am

Hi! My biggest problem, that only about 10% of my photos are good enough to share or edit later. I try a lot of settings, but because of that I have a lot of pictures that are just rubbish and only a few that I like. I wonder are there any app, or online tool that could help me to organize my photos really fast, so I don’t have to spend my time in fornt of my PC. Any idea?

Becca - June 29, 2012 - 10:25 am

Thank you for the encouragement! This is something I deal with quite a bit. When I started out, another photographer that I admired posted for critiques from “better” photographers only, which I thought was quite rude and pompous. But when I read it again,I realized that they obviously feel that while they are awesome theres room for improvement in their work. We all have insecurities but it shouldn’t hold us back from doing what we love. Even “better than you” photogs struggle and we all started somewhere.

Chris McCord - June 29, 2012 - 10:35 am

You have captured exactly what I’ve been going through the past year with my photography. I have done some of your tips, before reading this, by chance, and it does help some. I started back in 2009 when my son was born, and I didn’t even know how to use Av or Tv or M mode…and I see some of the shots and how I got lucky with some and how I could have done better with others etc…so looking back does help, to see how far I’ve come. I still have issues with the “comparing”, I see stuff I love and want to be able to do and wonder how they got there and how they look so good and mine dont. I have learned a lot of the stuff I’m drooling over is good post processing, something I need to figure out how to step my game up with. I think I need to focus more on photoshop, lightroom, etc…maybe then once I find a style with that, I’d be able to move beyond this comparing phase I’m stuck in a rut in.

Alicia - September 6, 2012 - 11:16 pm

This was perfect for what I needed to hear. I look for “rock the shot” feedback and positive words to get me to become a stronger photographer. Today I was faced with someone sharing baby photos from another local photographer when my “friend” chimed in and said “those look great can I have their number” it really hurts and want my friends to refer me not run away but eveyone offers so many differnt things its hard to keep my style.. Thanks for the encouraging post it perfect;)

Jan Pittard - September 8, 2012 - 8:43 am

I think too — just going and shooting. National Geographic photogs say it takes many rolls (back in film days) — if you got ONE good exposure in 36 frames you are doing good.

Also — Classes from pros. There are a lot of ‘self taught’ people out there these days, and while that’s well and good, you can also learn many mistakes to avoid or in class sometimes they have us intentionally make them, so we learn what NOT to do, as well as what equipment REALLY works, and what NOT to buy. The instructors feed back can really help, and even in a 6 week class dramatic difference from the beginning.


Heather - December 2, 2012 - 4:19 pm

I completely identify with everything you said. I had been planning on sharing some of those similar thoughts in a blog myself. Thanks for sharing.

Melissa Fuller - December 2, 2012 - 4:42 pm

I am beyond happy to know that others in this field feel this same way and have come to “bumps in the road”. And that we also get that “ah-ha” moment and other moments that make us squeal “Yes, I got it” !!!!!! Thank you so much for a well written article and I hope that everyone out there keeps pluggin’ away. Photograph some days and other days just take a break.

Kelly - February 13, 2013 - 6:33 am

I just read this article and it made my day! I deal with my inner critic daily and I feel like I’m the only one in the world! I love photography, and yes it gets me to tears sometimes but as I progress and do better I know it is so worth it! I too compare myself to others work and get frustrated but on the other hand I dream of being that good someday! I reliezed that my main problem is, I read everything I can get my hands on about photography but don’t actually put it to use because I’m scared and when I do it don’t turn out sometimes the first time and I get so upset! I am going to continue my journey because it warms my heart when I get it right, and I look at the beautiful moment I just captured! Thank You for this post it helps to know I’m not alone! I plan to print this article out to have on hand when I get down as a reminder to keep on clickin!

Melissa - July 9, 2013 - 1:44 pm

Thanks for the inspiration!

[…] and even what settings they use can be a great learning tool. Thanks for … … Link: Taking Better Photos: Overcoming … – Online Photography | Forum ← Settings for […]

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *



There was an error submitting your comment. Please try again.

F O R U M   R E G I S T R A T I O N
F a c e b o o k