There are many things that cannot be seen in photography and they all begin with the photographer. The photograph may be the physical/digital artifact of what was seen but it is the unseen photographer who made the image that carries the weight of far more than just a camera everytime they press the shutter.

No photograph exists without the photographer making a decision about what is important and what is not. The editing process in photography begins when the photographer decides what to include and what to dismiss within the frame. This of course illustrates the importance of decision making within photography, a process that requires confidence.

The confidence to know what makes a successful composition, a successful image, an important moment, a compelling photograph. The nature of what that success means also requires the photographer to be confident in their intention and expectation. Not arrogant but confident.

Some people seem to be born confident, others are given confidence but it is also possible to gain confidence through personal endeavour. Just as anxiety can be self- produced so can confidence. However, the subjective nature of all creative arts challenges the makers ability to retain confidence in the work that is made and potentially shown. This is a problem but one that can be overcome.

How? Essentially by placing yourself and your work within a context of work previously and currently being made. Too often I hear of photographers claiming that by looking at the work of acclaimed photographers that they feel inadequate. This is to misunderstand the importance of inspiration but context is different from inspiration because it is a mistake to compare your work with the images you aspire to create.

Personal honesty is required to understand that context, but so is the understanding that photography is not easy. Many think it is, but photography is more than making photographs with technical proficiency. That is a relatively easy process of learning compared to the learning required to understand yourself, and it is that understanding that will give you the confidence you need and perhaps desire. This learning will take time, resiliance and commitment but it is achievable. Just read the back stories of the photographer’s whose work you admire to see that this is true.

Dr.Grant Scott
After fifteen years art directing photography books and magazines such as Elle and Tatler, Scott began to work as a photographer for a number of advertising and editorial clients in 2000. Alongside his photographic career Scott has art directed numerous advertising campaigns, worked as a creative director at Sotheby’s, art directed foto8magazine, founded his own photographic gallery, edited Professional Photographer magazine and launched his own title for photographers and filmmakers Hungry Eye. He founded the United Nations of Photography in 2012, and is now a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, and a BBC Radio contributor. Scott is the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019), and What Does Photography Mean To You? (Bluecoat Press 2020). His photography has been published in At Home With The Makers of Style (Thames & Hudson 2006) and Crash Happy: A Night at The Bangers (Cafe Royal Books 2012). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was premiered in 2018.

Scott’s next book Inside Vogue HouseOne building, seven magazines, sixty years of stories, Orphans Publishing, is now on pre-sale.

© Grant Scott 2024

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Last Update: 04/28/2024