How Photography Got Me Out of My Shell

From Shy to Shutterbug

Anyone who knew me in high school probably thought I was a bit shy. They’re definitely not wrong–– I was quite closed off for one reason or another. I had a comfortable circle of friends and stayed in the same school for eight years. I didn’t feel like I needed to get to know people that well.

At about thirteen I picked up photography as a hobby, and by fourteen I was second-shooting my first wedding. This was an extremely nerve-wracking experience for me. A room full of strangers I’d be capturing and conversing with? For someone whose social experience with photography, at that point, had been from behind a computer screen (shoutout to my old DeviantArt account), it became apparent that I’d need to get better at this.

Let’s Talk It Out

Photography is an inherently social career. Unless you work in super solitary forms of fine art photography, it’s likely that a big part of your job is creating connections with the people you’re working with. It didn’t take a lot for me to realize that I was going to be dealing with other people my entire career, and that it’s a great thing.

Being a Shy Photographer

The Snowball Effect

It started out with organizing little portrait shoots with people around my high school. I shot a lot of people I sort of knew who would get some pretty pictures for Facebook out of it. I’m so grateful to these people for letting me work with them; they have no idea how much they helped in building my comfortability behind the lens.

From here, I began to book model tests and little portfolio shoots off of ModelMayhem. I connected and collaborated with total strangers to make something beautiful for the sake of a passion. By seventeen, I’d managed to build a portfolio with a handful of weddings, agency model shoots and had been dipping my toe in shoot production. I went off to college with budding skills, and began pursuing professional opportunities with greater and greater ease. Not only that, but I’d comfortably started making friends.

As my career continued to grow, I grew along with it and got out of my shell. I still have tiny moments of shyness here and there, but when it comes to getting the job done I am 100% on it. Had I not fallen in love with photography, I probably would have stayed a lot quieter for a long time. It changed everything in me for the better, and gave me the drive to push all of my boundaries both personally and professionally.

Little Reminders for the Shy

Some little things I keep in mind when it’s time to get to work:

  • You’re human, everyone else you’re dealing with is human. You’re not scary, why are they?

  • We’re all just doing our best to make something wonderful happen.

  • No one will remember the tiny flubs you remember. (Anyone else get kept up at night by some dumb thing they said in seventh grade?)

  • You are amazing, and you can do this.

Were you ever shy? What helped you break out of your shell?