Being an Introverted Photographer - Alison Heffington Photography


Being an Introverted Photographer

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I’m not gonna lie— there were times in high school where I thought there was no way I’d ever be able to make it as a wedding & portrait photographer because of how introverted I am. I used to seriously struggle to get through a senior shoot without long, awkward pauses that made for an uncomfortable session experience for both me AND my client.

As an introvert, small talk doesn’t come naturally to me, and I can get drained by too much social interaction at one time. I tend to be on the quieter side, I’m a bit soft-spoken, and I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as “peppy” or “upbeat” (people literally laugh out loud when I tell them I was a cheerleader in high school).

But let me tell ya from personal experience— you don’t need ANY of those characteristics in order to make it as a successful wedding or portrait photographer that clients LOVE to work with!! God has made each of us with unique personalities and strengths. Yeah, a lot of the photographers I follow on Instagram or know personally DO have big personalities, but sometimes we forget that being an introvert gives us a whole bag of tricks that just don’t come naturally for extroverts. Here are four things I’ve learned over my 8+ years of photography experience about why being an introverted photographer is actually kinda the best 😉

1. You can always improve your small talk skills.

This may seem obvious, but there were plenty of times in high school where I thought I was doomed to awkward conversations for the rest of my life. Just because extroverts tend to be better at small talk doesn’t mean it’s a skill reserved only for them. Joining a sorority helped me improve my small talk skills more than anything else (there’s nothing like standing in a crowded room with hundreds of girls during recruitment week to force you into small talk!). While I still don’t enjoy small talk, I’m now comfortable doing a bit of small talk at the beginning of a session until my client and I loosen up around each other a bit.

Tip #1: Maybe you don’t want to join a sorority to help you improve your small talk skills. Instead, challenge yourself to strike up a conversation with the person next to you when you’re studying or hanging out at a local coffee shop. Small interactions with strangers like this will help you feel more comfortable at the beginning of your photo sessions as you get to know your client!

Tip #2: Because small talk (and social interaction in general) can be draining for introverts, make sure you schedule time to rest and be alone! This is why I never schedule multiple sessions in one day. Even if the session is only 1 hour long, making small talk with someone I don’t really know can be exhausting. Instead of rushing off to another session, I’ll schedule time to go home, snuggle with my puppy, and recharge!

2. Introverts have excellent focus.

Google it! Introverts are able to focus for long periods of time, and this is a very helpful skill in more ways than one for a photographer. In my personal experience, my ability to focus on the task at hand has helped me stay on track during a session and get a lot of things accomplished. I come prepared to all my sessions with a mental list of the shots I want to make sure I get and different pose ideas. My clients are always surprised by how quickly I can work during our session and still deliver way more quality photos in their final gallery than they expected!

This ability to focus also comes in handy when you hit a snag during a photo session. Have you ever shown up to a location and the light is totally wrong? That ability of yours to focus on the situation at hand allows you to quickly assess the surroundings, determine the best lighting situation you have to work with, and, in the words of Tim Gunn…

3. Introverts tend to be more creative than extroverts.

In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, Winifred Gallagher is quoted saying, “Without introverts, the world would be devoid of the theory of gravity; the theory of relativity; W. B. Yeats’s “The Second Coming”; Chopin’s nocturnes; Proust’s In Search of Lost Time; Peter Pan…”.

I mean no offense to any extroverts who may be reading this! I know several extroverts who are incredibly creative (much more-so than me!). BUT, introverts do tend to be more creative than extroverts due to their ability to focus and be in solitude. This quiet time spent with our own thoughts allows us time to develop our thoughts and expand our ideas. Once we’ve given them enough thought, we can take those ideas out into the world and share them with others!

Tip #3: If you haven’t already, read Quiet by Susan Cain. You can thank me later.

4. Introverts are a calming presence & have strong observational skills.

I don’t know about you, but on my wedding day, I want my photographer to be someone who is going to calm me down and prevent me from getting stressed. I want to know that I can trust my photographer to focus and get the shots we want and to be able to make the necessary adjustments to the timeline if we get a little bit off-schedule. Plus, introverts tend to be very observant, and that makes them the perfect person to photograph a wedding day in a photojournalistic style.

In summary…

Embrace your personality, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between. God made each of us differently, and we’re doing ourselves a huge disservice if we try to morph into a personality that we’re not. And to my fellow introverts: don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be a photographer or do something that requires lots of social interaction/small talk. You totally can.

Leave a comment below if you have any other tips or strengths you’ve noticed as an introverted creative entrepreneur! I wanna hear from ya 🙂