Yesterday, I remembered a conversation I had with a tour guide in Antelope Canyon, Arizona, back in December of last year.
The guy knew all the good spots to take photos from, and he was showing us the compositions on his phone. It felt a bit like photography on rails, but it was very nice of him to do it. I'm sure a lot of photographers have come out with better images because of that.
Anyway, we talked for a bit after the tour was over and I asked him if he was a photographer himself and if I could see his work somewhere. I was sure he'd have amazing images of the canyon and the landscape around it, after years of almost daily visits.
His response shocked me:
"I do take photos. I love it. But I keep them in my hard drive, I'm just too afraid of what other photographers might think of me."
I've thought so much about these words since then.
In one way or another, everyone struggles with fear. While I am not afraid of sharing most of my work, it is true that sometimes I've shared something I knew it'd do better, instead of the image I really liked -out of fear of an image that I thought it'd do worse. Fear takes many shapes.
Popular locations like Antelope Canyon can amplify fear, because so many good photographers have done some -amazing- work there. It's very hard to avoid comparison between your work and theirs, even if it's not fair.
It's easy to say "don't be afraid", so I won't. If the tour guide's situation sounds familiar to you, try to approach it in a different way: make images in a less popular spot, approaching photography in a more personal way, and instead of sharing your work, document your process to start gaining some confidence. Disable comments on your blog or Instagram if that helps you. Don't look at the analytics.
In the end though, we need to realize that fear exists only within us, in our mind, and we need to be able to share what we want with the world. Everyone has a unique voice, and you can show that with your photography. Don't be afraid of being different, that's what makes you and your work beautiful.
If you struggle -or struggled in the past- with fear in your photography, I'd love you to share your story with me.