The Link Between Perfectionism and Creative Confidence

As a prevalent reality in my life, and something I haven’t quite been able to shake, I spend a fair amount of time contemplating the perfectionism that haunts me. I’ve pretty much come to terms with it, and I don’t necessarily see it as a weakness, per se, but I find it interesting to try to evaluate what specifically triggers it and how it plays with my other traits as a creative.
 

The Struggle with Perfectionism

I realized there was a direct link between my tendency for perfectionism and the anxiety I often get leading up to photoshoots. That because with photos — whether I’m shooting something myself or working with another photographer — I’m attempting to bring to life what’s in my head, what I want to capture, and figure out how to make that a reality, while taking into consideration all of the factors that help make a photo amazing. Lighting, setup, prop and backdrop choices, composition, styling details — it all contributes to creating this one image, and that can feel like a lot of pressure. Especially for someone who has a pretty strong imagination and sets the bar quite high (guilty!).

Now don’t get me wrong — I feel the most creatively charged when I’m in the role of creative director and on set bringing a vision to life, and I love nothing more than telling a story through a series of visuals. But the other side of that is that I also experience this sense of fear prior to it that can feel overwhelming. And if I’m not careful, and especially if I’m the only one involved and have the option, I’ll put it off out of fear that I won’t be able to execute at the standard that I want. So all of a sudden we’ve brought procrastination into the mix as well, which can make for a deadly combination.

 

Finding the Link to Creative Confidence

Whenever I’m able to identify a specific problem that I’m faced with, it becomes a lot easier to determine how to remedy it, so I forced myself to take a step back and contemplate how I might overcome this.

What I came up with is that this fear triggered by my perfectionism is actually linked with a lack of confidence in my creative abilities, and though it really only exists in my own head, the best way to counteract it is by arming myself with the right tools and resources, and then spending time finessing my own craft and creating my own systems and processes.

It’s why I’m constantly reading, learning and investing in training that will help me up my game. Because when mixed with a healthy dose of “just do the damn thing”, having a structured process in place not only gives you a plan to follow and takes the guesswork out of the equation, but it also leaves more room to explore and play creatively. You can focus on the details because you know you’ve got the shot already. You can try something totally new and outside your comfort zone, because you know you’ve got the shot already. It’s kind of similar to cooking — you tend to start by following recipes, learning the basics and familiarizing yourself with techniques and flavours and all the intricacies of what works and doesn’t. And then once you’ve mastered that, you start to experiment a little more, building confidence, developing your own style and exploring new ways of executing. Now you’re starting to create your own recipes, and next thing you know you’re a master chef in your own kitchen.

 

The Neverending Cycle of Learning and Teaching

I think this mentality is why I’ve fallen in love with teaching so much. It’s this cyclical process where I’m constantly challenging myself, learning, and finessing my own way of doing things, and then I get to turn around and help others do the same for their own brands and businesses. There’s nothing that quite matches that feeling of being able to empower someone and help them overcome their own challenges.

It’s why I created the Visual Strategy Masterclass — because I want to equip you with the tools and resources you need to define your own brand strategy.

The six module course will lead you from inspiration board to actionable visual strategy for your brand photos — or any component of your brand, really. It’s the signature process I’ve developed for my own projects and those of my clients, and includes a suite of resources and tools that will help you define your brand style.

And with the realization that styling and creating brand visuals can often be an overwhelming experience (been there!), I’ve just added a new bonus module as well, Intro to Styling, which helps to demystify this process with a few lessons that I’ve found to be valuable in my own process.