Stop being modest. It’s irritating.

18 01 2010

I’m a talker, I’ll admit it. But I’m also a listener, and I like to ask questions. Nosy ones, often, but there’s always a reason for the questions I ask. I promise.

When it comes to photographers, one question I like to ask is, “What are you best at and what are you weakest at?” And it’s very interesting to me that those I ask are very fast to point out their weaknesses–thoroughly. But when it comes to talking about what they’re good at, the conversation takes a weird turn. Because almost all of them insist that there’s nothing they’re good at.

What? No.

I’m not sure if it’s false modesty or true lack of self-confidence, but it’s untrue, in every case. Are we really that insecure as a whole? Or are we just afraid to put ourselves out there like that, so something can disagree with us? Maybe it’s a defense mechanism.

I’m betting it’s a little bit of both, and it’s time to change that. I hate listening to people put themselves down. Everyone is a critic, which means that at times we are the only ones on our side. Stand up for yourself. Stand behind your work. Stop putting yourself down. (If you put yourself down often enough, you will start to believe it.) It’s unhealthy, it’s dishonest, and it’s unpleasant for others to listen to.

Some time ago, I wrote, “Do what you do brazenly and unapologetically.” And that is where this becomes an interactive post.

I would like to hear from everyone who reads this blog entry. I want you to reply (publicly!) with at least one thing you do well. Don’t tell me you don’t do anything well, or I’ll know you’re lying. Be honest with yourself and grow a set.

Let’s hear it. What do you do well?

– CJ

big pup little girl

I am good at subject wrangling.

Dirty trucker hands

I am good at finding beauty in unexpected places. I'm damn good at photographing textures.




120 responses

18 01 2010
Anna aka Beach_Mama

I am good at getting young children to smile for me.

18 01 2010
Rich Demanowski

I’ll play!

I’m good at flying airplanes. I’m good at shooting guns. I’m good at setting up computer networks and installing operating systems.

I’m good at playing in the mud with the kids, at jumping in puddles and tossing water balloons and throwing snowballs and instigating tickle wars. I think I’m reasonably good at making photographs of them, too.

I’m lousy at marketing, and I’m a terrible salesman, but I’m getting better at it every day.

18 01 2010
Sharon Wharton

I rock at getting real moments, capturing the feelings of love and joy between people, and making them feel comfortable with me and my camera.
Thank you for this!!!!

18 01 2010

I’m good at outdoor natural light photo’s. I’m good helping people feel at ease. I’m good at capturing people as themselves.

Thank you CJ!

18 01 2010

I’m good at telling stories photographically. The reporter in me has just shifted from words to images.

18 01 2010

Oh great, you have to ask this in JANUARY when I basically feel like the world is dark, dreary and spend the month wallowing in my own seasonal misery?

Let’s see..

I am good at shooting the quiet, intimate moments.

18 01 2010

i’m a really good cook.

oh, did you mean photographically?

I have an endless supply of patience, when they aren’t my kids.

18 01 2010

Great post!
I’m good enough.
I’m smart enough.
And dog-gone-it! I am good at photographing newborns and the interaction of 2 people in love πŸ™‚

18 01 2010

I”m good at connecting with people. I love people and feel alive when I’m connecting with them:)

18 01 2010

I am good at connecting with people.

I am good at capturing the everyday moment.

Thank you.

18 01 2010

you’re also good at making people feel compelled and challenged to not only answer this question for themselves….but to comment on it as well πŸ˜‰

i’m good at finding beauty in the mundane. lovely in monotony. greatness in the humble.

18 01 2010

i’m dang good with large format. and explaining film…. and teaching photo. and getting exactly what I want in an image but making it completely genuine to the person.

18 01 2010
Raji Barbir

In no particular order:

– I’m good at getting people to relax in front of the camera.
– I’m good at making my subjects feel good about themselves
– I’m good at catching candid shots of people

Whew, that was harder than I thought!

And an excellent idea for a post πŸ™‚ Thanks!

18 01 2010

I am good at trying new things and getting good shots when no one thinks I am looking….

18 01 2010
Shelly Rogers

I am good at listening to Cheryl…okay aside from that. I love people and I care for them and can connect with them when I choose to. The key being when I choose, on my terms. I am kind of fiesty like that. The reason being when I choose to connect I choose to let them in as well.

19 01 2010

I love people and I care for them and can connect with them when I choose to. The key being when I choose, on my terms. I am kind of fiesty like that. The reason being when I choose to connect I choose to let them in as well.

Shelly Rogers, how did you get into my head & heart? Couldn’t have said it better myself. (And I’m good at writing!) πŸ˜‰

19 01 2010

Thanks Lisa. It is so rare when I know how to express myself so yesterday was that once in a blue moon kind of day. πŸ™‚

18 01 2010
Tommy Williams

I am good with the digital darkroom and managing a large library of photographs–from metadata to storage to backup.

I am good at finding interesting photos in things that most people don’t even see–things that are often even *designed* to be as unobtrusive as possible.

18 01 2010

I’m good in forgetting.
It helps my creativity πŸ™‚

18 01 2010

I am good at capturing that moment, that expression that defines someone, that shows personality and relationships

18 01 2010

I’m really good at listening to people, it’s my gift to those around me.
I’m good at looking into someones eyes, when I photograph them. And I end up falling in love with everyone I photograph. (But that stays my little secret, of course I don’t tell them that.)

18 01 2010

I’ve only recently fallen into the confidence issue trap. Until now I was easily bolstered up by encouragement form my friends and family. Suddenly I’m putting more weight on what I think a “real photographer” might say about my work than what I think or the people closest to me.

18 01 2010

I am good at finding and extracting a story from someone who thinks they have none to offer.

I am also good at adapting to new situations and creating images in tough new environments.

and for Stacie, it’s summer here in Australia, we’ll send some your way soon. Chin up.

I am good at enjoying summer.

19 01 2010

Thanks Stephen πŸ™‚ Only a couple more months than the crocuses arrive.

I’m FABULOUS at enjoying summer!

18 01 2010

I am good with people, kids especially.
I am good at thoroughly exhausting every angle!

wish this wasn’t so tough, but i’m guessing that is your point!

18 01 2010

i’m good at being silly and connecting with kids.

18 01 2010
Bree; Β©BMLeach

Genuine lack of self-confidence… this is a hard question for me.

I’m really good at getting kids to warm up to me.

I can see the potential of the texture in a photo to create wallpapers.

18 01 2010

I am superior at unconventional landscape photography.
btw I am your fan!

18 01 2010

except . . . shit. what if i’m good at everything?

19 01 2010

(except maybe being humble?) teasing! β™₯

19 01 2010

Are you that full of yourself that the rest of us are supposed to buy into your crap. Seriously. All of your blogs are about how cool you are. What about just being real and admitting that you can screw up and maybe you miss a shot. Who are you? Just sit in your corner and ask us to listen and pay you money to look at our work. Get over yourself. I make a heck of coin and don’t need your crap. Get a life!

19 01 2010

Hi, Ashley. Thanks for replying, and congratulations on your coin. I definitely screw up a-plenty, just like everyone else. Fortunately, I have my blog to tell everyone all about it. πŸ˜‰

Please feel free to read my bio to answer the question about who I am. Since you don’t need my crap, I’ll expect you’ll not waste your time on my blog. Five more minutes to spend on your coin.

All the best,


19 01 2010

I almost forgot. You didn’t mention what you’re good at?


– CJ

19 01 2010
Rich Demanowski

It seems Ashley is quite good at being crabby. πŸ˜›

20 01 2010

huh, thats a strange thing? Nice response.

19 01 2010
Kris Leigh

Awesome post (as usual) Cheryl! You are such an inspiration to me and I’m hoping one day, you’ll get to Aus and I’ll be able to meet you and say THANK YOU!

I’m good at:
– Capturing true, beautiful, funny, pure childhood and family moments
– Capturing Beautiful, soulful portraits
– Working with natural light in many different situations

XX Kris

19 01 2010

I’m good at making people feel really uncomfortable in front of the camera

I’m good at giving the impression that I have no idea what I’m doing with a camera in my hand

I’m good at missing all the sweet moments

I’m really good at screwing up the exposure on the best shots…

I feel better now… πŸ˜€

(not to be taken seriously)

19 01 2010
Robert Hoehne

I’m good at taking pictures of things people do not take notice of.

19 01 2010

I’m good at photographing unposed toddler shots.

19 01 2010

I’m good at capturing the personality of my subjects.
I’m also good at getting people comfortable with my camera

19 01 2010

I’m fantastic at capturing surprises in nature as well as writing beautiful and descriptive narrative about each adventure. My goal this year is to get out of the forest and away from the lake more and learn how to do the same with people watching. Ha!

19 01 2010

I am good at giving people the feeling I know what I am doing, when I could be just as lost as they are. Good at documenting moments in life. Good at planning very interesting routes to lead groups of motorcyclists on roads they never knew existed.

19 01 2010

I am good at taking photos of people. (I shall have to keep telling myself that).

19 01 2010
David E.

I’m good at recognizing an honest photograph, even if it’s mine.

19 01 2010

I don’t know you, and I don’t take pictures, but I like this post…
I’m good at mixing colors and textures that result in really intresting and stimulating visual combanations. So much so that I often deleve into artforms that I have little teachnical skill with because I am so excited by the materials. It is my life long frustration to see art in everything but not always be able to show the world what I can see in my head.

19 01 2010

I’m good at capturing the moment when spirit shines through.

Thank you Cj!

19 01 2010

Oh I so needed this kick in the ass!

I rock at documenting the every day. Focusing on the daily moments that go unnoticed but remembered as a way of life. I am able to accurately photograph relationships between two or even more people in a room full of chaos and make it seem as if they’re the only people on the planet.

I also take wonderful photos of my daughter, my husband and my dogs. While it may annoy them now, that there is usually a camera pointed in their direction. Hopefully years from know they’ll appreciate the fact that their lives were throughly documented πŸ™‚

19 01 2010
Ann-Marie Hensley

I am good at telling a story with my camera. The story behind the pictures is definitely what I am passionate about.

I love this positive thinking Cheryl. I am all about happiness.

19 01 2010

Light!! Love good light, and can find it just about anywhere!

19 01 2010

i’m good at investing in people and telling their story through a photo. finding that one thing that makes them special and capturing it to encourage them.

19 01 2010

I am good at shooting at night; I like to believe I am good with colours as well

19 01 2010

Wow, I really needed to read this right now…I’m just starting a business, and am really having to tell myself recently that I do a good job because I tend to doubt my ability. I believe I’m good at working with natural light, and that I am good at photographing people’s faces. I am good at working hard and making sure I just keep trying even when I doubt myself.

Thanks for this post : )

19 01 2010

I’m good at shooting in the sun and also getting up close.

19 01 2010

I’m good at POST-visualizing, image-capture is only a part of the process for me. Thanks for suggesting we focus on the positive.

19 01 2010

I’m good at finding things that inspire me to continue with what I love to do. Reading your blog is one of those things πŸ™‚

19 01 2010
Jen Snyder

I am becoming really skilled at fake-it-til-ya-make-it. πŸ™‚

I am good at catching unscripted moments. Now to work on encouraging more of those πŸ™‚ I am good at learning, I’m like a sponge… always on the lookout for something new to absorb.

19 01 2010

I’m good at making people feel comfortable when they might otherwise feel vulnerable.

19 01 2010

I’m good at watching – observing. Still practicing, though!

19 01 2010

I’m good at not giving up.
I’m good at thinking outside the box.
I’m good at seeing the potential for a great photograph.

19 01 2010
Ed Hamlin

I have my weaknesses, how ever since you opened this can of night crawlers, I create well, not not on the same level of God. I am sure it is a gifting I received, but having photography to express some thoughts and Ideas yeah that is what I do well.

Well walk past creative situations everyday. A sunset reflected in a puddle of water on a college track. A discarded tennis shoe in the middle of a field, why? Is it lazieness that people discard things they don’t want anywhere hey want or was this person treking through play with their teenaged friends and lost i? Are our lives so focused on survival that we miss the wonders and pleasentries of life as it should be?

Well I am off to explore………………and shoot the tennis shooe left long ago in the field, in the rain.

19 01 2010

I’m good at being quirky. Quirky subjects, quirky angles, quirky view of life. Now if the quirky market would heat up, I’m poised for great success!!

19 01 2010

I’m pretty good at capturing people in the moment. I’m really good at making people laugh.

19 01 2010

umm.. umm… i don’t want to irritate but i am in a ‘need to believe in myself’ artistic funk… so can’t think of anything right now.

19 01 2010

Rashmi, let me help you, then. After looking through your work, you have an excellent sense of timing, always catching the height of the expression. And you’re good at communicating your sense of humor.

Be proud.

20 01 2010

Cheryl! Thank you! You are too kind to take some time to look at my website! My friend StephZ is hoping to get you to the east coast this summer for a workshop. I have always said that i will only attend one workshop.. yours.. and have been holding out for 3 years now! πŸ™‚

19 01 2010

I think I’m really good at expressing my own feelings and emotions. Selfishly. I’m also very good at being proud of it 😦

19 01 2010

I think I’m pretty good at seeing the quirky side of things. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but I think I”m good at it

19 01 2010

Sorry I posted that twice. Just being quirky I guess ;^)

19 01 2010

First, I love this post! It’s just so true! And secondly, I’m good at available light. I can read it very well. It’s like I speak Light’s language.

19 01 2010

I am good at making pictures of ‘quiet moments’, or times when everyone just kind of stops and seems to be absorbing life. I see it as a nice break from the American lifestyle where everything is go-go-go.

19 01 2010

I’m good at making photo moments look more fun than they really were.

20 01 2010

I’m great at observing, watching for what people aren’t saying. In terms of actual practice…I do a great job of having fun during a shoot, getting my clients to relax and enjoy themselves. Sometimes by making fun of myself, but that’s part of the joy. Thanks for the prompt!

20 01 2010

Great blog, Cheryl. Your work is inpiring, too! Would LOVE to do one of your workshops!

We all do some things well, and it’s important to admit those things, if only to ourselves, but I believe our strengths will only take us as far as our weaknesses will allow.

20 01 2010

Judi, thanks. You’re certainly welcome to join us at a workshop! I love putting faces with names.

It’s very true that strengths can be obscured by weaknesses; on the other hand, focusing only on the weaknesses can be very discouraging. Balance is always key.

20 01 2010

Right now I’m better at finding humor in my photo’s, despite the fact that 3 kids gives me so little time to make the work I want to do…

20 01 2010

I’m good at seeming and photographing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

20 01 2010
s h e r r y

I’m good at interacting with people. Strangers often strike up conversations with me πŸ™‚

20 01 2010

I’m such a fan of yours Cheryl. I’ll be eventually taking you up on one of your critique sessions.

That being said – I’m good at interacting with people on a level that helps me determine who they really are. I’m usually pretty good at taking that knowledge and making it translate into photographs.

20 01 2010

Melissa, thanks! When it comes to critique, there’s no time like the present. πŸ˜‰

20 01 2010

I am a little obsessive, so my wife tells me, but when applied to a photographic problems it is a superpower πŸ™‚ e.g. amataur finding ways to improve each day

20 01 2010

I’m good at teaching people who want to be models the basics of being a model. The little things. Turn into the light. Don’t do that thing with your hands. Take a breath in and let it out. The sort of stuff that makes it easier for them to make it easier for photographers to make good pictures of them.

And although you don’t see it on my website because, well, you just don’t, I am a *master* of candid behind-the-scene shots at photo shoots. πŸ™‚ I am a fracking “you didn’t just take a picture of me, did you?” ninja master. And I can take pictures using my pinky finger to engage the vertical shutter release while I am not even looking at the camera hanging at my waist. This is harder than you might think.

20 01 2010
Stephen S. Mack

I’m good at finding photos wherever I am. This works out very well for me because I live in rural Virginia, in Buckingham County, and there’s enough subject matter here to keep me busy for the rest of my life. Which means for me that I can find a photo op just about anywhere I am. I wouldn’t turn down a trip to Yosemite, but I can do very well here, thank you very much.

I do a pretty good photographic equivalent of a “first draft” (read snapshot), and then I will go back repeatedly at different times of the year to the same place and see what’s new there: it never grows old for me.

I’m finally beginning to own my strengths!

Thank you, Cheryl!

21 01 2010
Chris Klug

I’m good at landscapes. I’m good at calling attention to everyday things. I’m good at composition. I’m good at following my instincts.

21 01 2010
Tim Gallo

I am best in shooting asian girls in old-fashioned old-lady-managed love hotels in tokyo πŸ™‚

21 01 2010

I’m good at seeing something interesting and photogenic in clutter, and capturing details. And I love exploring new angles! I’m also really good at teaching myself photography and technology, and (getting better at) working through frustration.

Oh, and I rock at finding other photographers to admire and glean inspiration from. Thanks for being one of them, Cheryl!

21 01 2010
Jennifer Blaauw

I’m good at appreciating and seeing and capturing the beauty in chaos a.k.a. childhood.

23 01 2010
Rachel Slepekis

Interesting idea this post; I think you are right, we need to acknowledge our strengths just as much our weakness. It was also interesting to read what everyone else had to say about their strength. So here is me:

-I’m good at capturing what people are thinking in a photo, in a good way, like peaking into their soul.
-I’m good at old master painting lit still life.
-I’m good at composition, I can see my photos before taking the shot.

23 01 2010

– I’m good at putting out fires.
– I’m good at sniping from a distance with my telephoto
– good at waiting til the shot comes before pulling the trigger

nice post. Thanks!

24 01 2010

Another great post to make us really think about what we’re doing.

I would say that I’m good at seeing things that most other people don’t see, like a side of someone’s personality, something isolated in a landscape, patterns, textures, isolating something simple but beautiful and meaningful…

24 01 2010

I am good at seeing a big picture in the details.

Thanks Cheryl, for making us think…

24 01 2010
Tom Parker

I’m good at capturing the abandoned past in the rural Midwest, and of finding beauty in small things.

25 01 2010

I’m good at getting people to feel comfortable and at ease. I’m good at finding stories through the lens.

27 01 2010

I’m fabulous at post production, color correcting, and turning my photography into really cool works of art. I’m great at symmetry, shadows, contrast and appreciating natural light.

You Rock for posting this….love all the comments!

27 01 2010

I love this post….
I’m good at abstractions. I’m good at self-portraits. I’m good at working with kids. I’m good at empowering other women by taking their portraits.

Thanks for this….I needed to do this. πŸ™‚

27 01 2010

I’m good at following through. I get an idea in my head and i will pursue it to the end, relentlessly.
I’m good at capturing kids as they are, happy, grumpy, thoughtful, whatever, and i never force them to smile.
I really love your work Cheryl!

28 01 2010

I’m good at marketing my myself

29 01 2010

I am good at responding to blog posts pretty late. Also I am good a floral macro photography. I am good a post-production on images to bring out the hidden potential.

29 01 2010

I’m good at showing people the beautiful version of themselves.

30 01 2010

I smoke weed like a champion!!

4 02 2010

And, you’re super honest, so there’s that, too!

31 01 2010

Well…lets see…good heavy equipment technician, damn good troubleshooter, especially on electrical and electronic systems. A pretty good trainer also.

Photographically…its a work in progress…however I am getting better with the portraits. I think child photography is becoming my greatest strength.

I am a big fan Cheryl…thanks for the inspiration!


2 02 2010
echard wheeler

i’m a good ninja. i’m good at being invisible yet present. i’m good at capturing realness. and, i’m an excellent daydreamer.

i love your work and blog. thanks for sharing it with us.


3 02 2010

I am good at catching the “in between” moment that results in a real face. Well, good or lucky…whichever way you look at it!!

9 02 2010

I have for quite some time admired your work…well love it actually. I’m not quite certain what I’m good at but I do have more a sense of what I love and that is beautiful spaces, genuine smiles, real moments, emotion, movement, expression, … umm and I like telling stories.

Would love to take one of your courses Cheryl .. let me know when you come to Canada. πŸ™‚

15 02 2010
Jide Alakija

Well you’re certainly good at drawing people to your posts.

I agree with you, it’s important to affirm ourselves on what we KNOW we are good at. On that note, I’m good at reading people and working out how to capture their best sides. Make sense?

17 02 2010
jennie gaskins

I’m good at connecting with my clients….especially the young ones!! I love newborns and think I do pretty well with them! I’m also not afraid of trying new places or ideas with my clients!!

18 02 2010
Colorado Wedding Photographer - JasonG

I rock at capturing the personality of the couples I shoot. Their feedback, “You got us, being us”.

23 02 2010

I’m good on insisting on pursuing my lifelong passion for photography regardless of the fact that I’m not in my twenties, thirties or even forties. I’m good at loving people no matter where or who they are, and I do love finding every day beauty every day.

1 03 2010

i’m good at photographing love.

i’m good at making people laugh.

8 03 2010

I am realy good at photographing portraits
And i am realy good at photographing freestyle inlineskating
Māris Malnačs - Outspin KindGrind

18 03 2010
Stephen Baird

I’m extremely good at my job, child care for children on the autistic spectrum, been doing this job for 22 years and still enjoy it as much today as I did at the start, possibly more

18 03 2010
Stephen Baird

I’m extremely good at my job, child care for children on the autistic spectrum, been doing this job for 22 years and still enjoy it as much today as I did at the start, possibly more

22 03 2010

I am good at being boastful πŸ˜‰

2 04 2010
Tom K.

I am good a really shallow depth of field, close, natural light portraits.
Like this:

and this:

22 01 2011


21 04 2010
Madame Meow

I’m good at framing, and capturing very quirky moments that others miss.

3 05 2010

I am good at taking beautiful pictures of children being themselves!

9 07 2010

soy bueno en intentar ser buena persona

3 01 2011
Mary Kim

Good at lighting, and getting stand offish people to relax and laugh when I take their picture:)

15 08 2012

I am good at listening πŸ™‚

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