Imposter Syndrome: What Is It and How to Mitigate Its Effects

We all get it. You can be a photographer, a writer, a makeup artist, an accountant, or a business person. Imposter Syndrome is a psychological condition where people believe they are fakes or frauds. They believe that they are not competent, intelligent, talented, or creative and that others will discover that they are fake or frauds as well. It is a fear, an anxiety. And it holds you from taking that next step that could advance your career.

This is a very common condition in the world today due to the high standards that we set for ourselves. We are always trying to do more and more to prove to other people that we are successful and often fail to realize that we are just as good as anyone else. 

Take A Break From Social Media

If you find yourself falling into Imposter Syndrome, one way to mitigate its effect is to stop looking at social media. Social media is a double-edged sword. It can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it can also be a source of stress and anxiety. No matter how successful you are, there is someone out there who is more successful than you, and we should not let their success define who we are. Don’t let this discourage you from pursuing your dreams. Turning off Instagram or putting away Facebook and LinkedIn could give you that time to self-reflect and leave the noise on the Internet.

To quote an article on the effects of social media on mental health on, “Social media has a reinforcing nature. Using it activates the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine, a ‘feel-good chemical’ linked to pleasurable activities such as sex, food, and social interaction. The platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments.” So the easiest way out of that trigger is simply to take a break from it or turn it off.


Another way to mitigate the effects of Imposter Syndrome is to practice some mindfulness. Mindfulness is a mental exercise that focuses on the present and helps people be aware of their thoughts, feelings, and sensations and being able to accept them as they are without judging them.

Above: Model Jillian Gurley (DirectionsUSA) | Makeup and hair by Sarah Broyhill | © Kris Fulk Photography

There are several benefits to mindfulness: it improves self-awareness, reduces stress, improves focus and concentration, and reduces negative emotions such as anxiety and depression. 

But how does one practice mindfulness, you might ask? You can try these same methods I use:

  • Take 5 to 10 minutes to feel yourself breathe: breathe in and out, and feel your lungs expand and contract as you do.
  • Be in the present.
  • Ground yourself with what you are doing *now*.
  • Think about your body and feel what your body is feeling. Contract and release your muscles from your toes to your hands and arms.
  • Don’t think about the past or the future. Again, be in the present.


Similarly, you can try meditation. Meditation and mindfulness are two very different things, but they are both great ways to deal with stress and anxiety. Meditation is the practice of stilling the mind and focusing on the present moment, while mindfulness is the ability to be aware of what is going on around you in the present moment without judging or reacting. Both of these practices are very important to our overall well-being. Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and focus on your goals, while mindfulness helps you be aware of your surroundings and react appropriately. But if you have ever been stressed out and tried to meditate, you know that it’s hard to do. It takes practice and patience to learn how to keep your mind calm and clear. The best way to practice meditation is to start small. Try to meditate for a few minutes every day. The more you practice, the more you will be able to clear your mind and get rid of stress.

Do Something You Enjoy

Another way to lessen Imposter Syndrome is to do something you enjoy. Perhaps even taking a break so you can relax. For example, if you enjoy drawing, go draw something. If you enjoy baking, bake something (I love to bake chocolate chip cookies, myself). If you enjoy playing guitar, play something. Try to take a break from whatever is triggering your feeling of anxiety and inadequacy. 

The Benefits of Being Over-prepared

If relaxing does not help, the last method I suggest is to be over-prepared. Feeling inadequate can rear its ugly head when you feel like you don’t know the totality of the task at hand, so I try to over-prepare for those tasks. Then I can tell myself that yes, I do know what I’m doing or what I’m talking about. Not only do I know the subject matter, I have also thought of all the ways that a project could have problems and thought of their solutions beforehand. This is always my approach to every project, which settles any nerves I may feel. However, if your feeling of inadequacy persists, see if finding a mentor can help you prepare further.

Remember, you are not alone. We all feel this way some time in our lives: we are all human. Don’t let Imposter Syndrome stop you from making a difference in your career. Try to do at least one of the things I suggested above - start small and build on it. You might be surprised at how quickly you get over this feeling. The more you put yourself out there and the more you do, the less Imposter Syndrome will get in your way. 

Why You Should Invest In More Than One Professional Headshot

A professional headshot is a must these days, whether you’re a business owner, a freelancer, an employee or simply using it for your social media. A headshot photographer can capture your unique personality, add interest and intrigue to your photo and create a unique image for your website or social media profiles. As with most things, the headshot is the first impression you make. If you’re going to be judged by your headshot, you’d better be doing something right. The headshot is your personal brand, your sales pitch, and your professional identity. It’s your calling card.

But why should you invest in more than one headshot? 

(Above: Jen Brown’s two headshots, © Kris Fulk Photography.)

Whereas a single headshot may be used to represent you across many mediums, such as a Facebook page, Twitter profile, LinkedIn profile, etc., a second headshot is more likely to be used for your one-to-one marketing. This is especially true if you have multiple products and services. The second headshot allows you to represent your brand(s) in a more personal way.

Another benefit of a second headshot is that it allows you to create a different mood. One headshot can be serious and polished, while the other can be fun and casual. They can each have different uses: one for your professional brand, for example, and the other for your personal one. Even if they are both for your professional use, sometimes you don’t want to express something with a smiling headshot. A newsletter or an article with a more serious tone, for example, would warrant a non-smiling headshot. Or if you’re using them both for your personal brand, consider a more neutral one for LinkedIn, a platform where professionals connect or look for jobs, and a smiling one for Twitter or another more personable platform like Facebook.

Additionally, a second headshot will allow you to experiment and find out which works best for your brand. You might already be doing A/B testing for your paid advertisements, so you know the value of distilling for the best representation and perception of your brand. 

Finally, a second headshot allows you to express different sides of yourself. If you are a bit shy or introverted, for example, you can choose to have a second headshot with a smiling expression. This is often the case with business owners and entrepreneurs. A smiling headshot shows that you are friendly and approachable. Research has shown that a smiling headshot increases your likability. Compared to a smiling headshot, a headshot with a serious expression allows you to portray yourself as a more confident and professional person.

When it comes to your second headshot, don’t be afraid to be creative. The headshot is your branding tool. Be sure to choose a style that fits your personality and the tone of your business, whether with an outfit change or a fun background color. This is something I discuss with my clients after booking. Perhaps you might even consider a library of images that contain both headshot and portrait varieties. If you’re in the Piedmont Triad or the Piedmont Triangle area of North Carolina, specially in Winston-Salem and Charlotte, I’d love to help you capture your different brand personalities. Go ahead and email me with the type of headshot you need. 

How to Prepare for Your Professional Photoshoot

Congrats! You finally booked that professional photographer. You’re getting those portraits done for your business or model portfolio, so now you can sit back, relax, and let the photographer do the work, right? Well, sort of.

As your headshot, portrait or portfolio photographer, I’m going to do everything I can to help you feel comfortable and at ease. It’s my job to capture your winning personality, after all! But there are a few things you can (and should) do to prepare and make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

Get Your Outfit(s) Ready to Go

I’m sure you’ve already thought about what you will wear for your photoshoot (and if you haven’t, there’s no time like the present!), so get those clothes out now and make sure they’re cleaned, steamed, and ready to rock!

If it’s been a while since you wore the outfit, or you recently went up or down a few sizes, Try. It. On. Do a try-on a week or two before your photoshoot to make sure it all fits perfectly. An ill-fitting outfit will result in higher retouching fees, and the outcome may not be as natural as you’re hoping for. It’s best if it just fits right from the start, not only to save you money on retouching but to help you feel more comfortable and confident during the shoot! If you don’t like the way your outfit looks and feels, it’ll show.

Bring your outfits to the shoot on hangers, with all the wrinkles ironed out. If you’re just getting headshots, don’t worry about pants! I mean, please wear them. But you don’t need to stress about wrinkles - just make sure the fit of your pants doesn’t mess up the fit of your top (this is especially important if you’re wearing a suit or jacket).

Plan Your Hair and Makeup

I highly, highly recommend hiring a makeup artist and hair stylist to help you look your best. Men, this is for you too - so pay attention! These portraits or headshots are how you market yourself and your brand, so they need to be as professionally done as possible. Professional stylists will know exactly what looks will or won’t work with the camera - you don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed, but you also don’t want to be so overdone that your headshots look more like 80’s glamour shots. Especially for business men, you may prefer looking as if you’re not wearing any makeup at all. A makeup artist can absolutely provide that, with just a little touch up here and there to take care of shine and give your skin tone a bit of color.

Coming to your shoot professionally styled lessens the need for that extra retouching. If you don’t know who to hire for this, let me know and I can refer you to some of my go-tos in the area! Many artists even offer both hair and makeup services, so you can get it all taken care of in one stop before the shoot.

Get Ready the Night Before

No, I’m not saying sleep in your outfit (that’s a wrinkly disaster waiting to happen). But don’t leave everything until the last minute scramble in the morning! Take some time the day before your professional photoshoot to double-check your outfit(s), review the times and locations for your hair and makeup appointments and the photoshoot itself, and fill out all the necessary forms.

Aside from the standard contract between us, you’ll also need to fill out a couple of liability and COVID-related forms as well as model releases, depending on what kind of shoot we’re doing. I’ll give you most of these forms way in advance, so just make sure they’re submitted before the shoot so you don’t have to worry about it when you get here.

Last but not least, make time for some SELF CARE. Get a good night’s sleep - resist the urge to binge watch that latest Netflix show - and drink lots and lots and lots of water. I suggest literally carrying a water bottle with you everywhere you go for at least a week leading up to your photoshoot and getting in the habit of staying hydrated. This is such a good natural way to keep your hair, skin, nails, and everything else healthy and glowy. So drink up!

What to Bring to Your Photoshoot

You really don’t need to bring much beyond yourself, but here’s a quick list of items that are good to have at your photoshoot:

  • Hairspray and a comb for dealing with last minute unruly hairs
  • Powder or face blotters if your skin tends to be oily
  • All outfit changes
  • A limited selection of accessories (but keep these to a minimum, as they can draw the eye away from the face - we want you to be the star here!)
  • A lint roller to clean up any lint or pet hairs
  • Wearing glasses? Bring some cleaner and a cloth to keep them smudge-free
  • Water! Water! Water!

Finally, bring your unique energy and charm! I’ll coach and direct you, so don’t stress. You’re well taken care of in front of my lens - just come ready to relax, be yourself, and have fun.

Ready to Book?

If you’re in the Winston-Salem, Charlotte, or Raleigh regions of North Carolina, contact me to schedule your portraits!  I also am known to make frequent trips to my hometown of New York City if you want to set something up there. I do everything from business and actor headshots to model portfolio shoots and branding or commercial shoots. Shoot me a message and let’s get this thing in the books for 2022!