I have Impostor Syndrome. Impostor Syndrome is defined as a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. That definitely sums up how I feel some times. Crazy right?
It wasn’t until I began photographing for the NFL and MLB that the being a fraud feeling started to creep in. I first heard about this “condition” from a Chase Jarvis YouTube video. I was like that is a weird feeling to have, but here I am. Suffering from feeling like a fake.
That fraud feeling also started to creep in when I was started to follow other sports photographers on Instagram and Twitter and I was seeing their work and I was like how can I even call myself a sports photographer? That is when the fraud feeling began to sink in. Like how can I call myself a sports photographer when all these other people are taking amazing shots and here I am thinking my work is a complete waste of time.
When the impostor syndrome really kicks in is when people email me or DM me asking for tips on shooting or how did I get this or that shot. I’m like why are you asking me? Who am I that you want to know how I got this shot or that one? I saw a post on someone’s Instagram story and they tagged me and it they said they wanted to use my photo as inspiration. I damn near had a nervous breakdown. I could not comprehend how my work was deemed worthy enough for inspiration.
How many other photographers or creatives feel like a fraud? After Googling how I felt it seems like there is a lot of us out there who suffer from this syndrome. I was trying to figure why I felt like this. Like what made me feel like I was a fraud? It was like I almost felt like I was unworthy or deserving of the opportunities that I have been given.
Yes I work for the NFL and MLB and at each game or every shoot with a player they send me to, all I’m thinking is that they’re going to see my work afterwards and think to themselves, “How did we let this fraud in to do a job for us?” As crazy as it sounds that is the thoughts that go in my head each time I pull into a stadium. The thought that I’m going to be called out for being a fake or a phony.
How does one get over that fraud feeling? And to be honest it’s a constant battle within me. I have to tell myself if I wasn’t good enough would the NFL or MLB hire me year after year? If I wasn’t good enough would people from Europe or Asia hire me to shoot sporting events for them? The answer is yes, I am good enough. At the same time there are plenty of more talented people out there who haven’t had the opportunities that have been afforded to me. I can’t change that, but I also have to remember that I am good enough and that I am qualified enough to call myself a sports photographer.
I’m not sure how other photographers or creatives deal with having the impostor syndrome. I definitely love to know their ways or techniques. Do other people feel the way that I do? Is the way I feel normal? Will I ever get over feeling like a fake? To be honest, I don’t know.
For every person that emails or DMs me about how to get where I am or how I got my shot, I know that if I wasn’t good enough they wouldn’t be asking me how. That doesn’t mean that self doubt about my abilities or talents doesn’t creep in like fog rolling over the hills at night. It is a constant battle for me and there are days where I’m winning and days where it kicks my ass. Are there photographers out there better than me; absolutely. Are there people taking amazing photos; of course. Am I one of those photographers? You’re damn right I am one. Even on days I don’t feel like one.
I may feel like a fake and suffer from impostor syndrome, but it’s not going to hold me back from being who I am meant to be. I may feel like a phony, but after being hired over and over by the NFL, MLB and others, I must be doing something right or I’m really good at faking it.
If you feel the same way that I do about being a fake or impostor because you’re a photographer or creative I would love to know how you deal with it. Maybe we can start a support group or something. Either way the comments section is open, so drop and a line or two and let me know your thoughts and feelings.