Last week my friend Stephanie asked if anyone knew their Myers-Briggs personality type. I had taken mine at work last year and found out I am an ISTJ. It was the first time I had ever been honest when taking a personality test — that might sound strange, but anytime I took them in high school I always found myself filling out the answer to what I *thought* I should be instead of what I was. As we were described our personalities in depth, mine fit me to a “t”.
Some may say there is no place for an introvert in a profession like photography; at times, you have to be able to command entire rooms so there is no place for shyness. However, being an introvert doesn’t simply mean you are shy. While many of us are that, it really is more about enjoying solitude, internalizing emotions, and preferring quiet atmospheres. All of this to say that it can be challenging to be a photographer as an introvert and here is why…
I have found over the past few months that one of the keys to being successful in this industry is networking. Without peers who support you, you will get nowhere; you truly, absolutely cannot do this business alone. This involves attending conferences & workshops, building lasting friendships, supporting others’ work, hosting parties, volunteering to second shoot, etc — which directly conflicts with the “enjoying solitude & quiet atmospheres” definition above. The thing about being an introvert for me anyway is that I honestly love doing all the activities above and cherish all my new friendships that I have built through this business. BUT, and this is a big one, it is exhausting! Introverts are physically and mentally drained by the end of an event and just want to go home and curl up. If you’ve read on this far, though, I am probably preaching to the choir!
So I just wanted to share a few methods that I have developed for myself to help find a good balance:
Learn to say, “let me think about it”: Introverts typically like think through a response before just spitting it out. Don’t be afraid to take some time to think about if you really want to attend happy hour after work or whatever the situation may be. Which leads me to my next tip…
Learn to say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t” aka “no”: I know I’m a people pleaser, so this one doesn’t come easy. I want to be able to do all the things: work full time, manage my own business, shoot for fun, attend events, cook dinner, spend time with my dog and husband, go out with my friends. But some weeks, there isn’t time for all of it and you just need to say no. Make sure you aren’t saying “no” to the same group all the time so they are more understanding when you do have to!
Schedule alone time: This sounds silly, but if you put it on your calendar and block off time for you to just do you, it’s much more likely to happen! You’ll feel re-energized and motivated.
Start friendships online: In the wedding industry, we all have a blog, Facebook page, Instagram where we post our work. Find peers that you are drawn to and seek them out. Once you finally do meet in person, you’ll feel like you already know them and have an easier time chatting. This one is tough though because you must be authentic. People will see through your smile if you’re faking it.
Be the host!: This one seems backward, right? Why would an introvert want to host an event? Well, it put you in control! You have a say over who will be attending, what will be going on, and — most importantly — when the party ends.