Embracing My Introvertism as a Photographer

It was a huge relief to discover that being an introvert isn't something I have to hide in my work life – that it's actually something that I should embrace.

- By Jenna Christina

Documentary Photography Education

Being an introvert Finn in an extrovert California has been quite challenging, especially when I'm building a photography business here. As for any sole business owner, networking and making connections is key.

Sometimes people are surprised to hear that I'm an introvert, but they have usually only met me one-on-one. I often feel quite comfortable as a twosome or in tiny groups. I've also learned to fake my way through uncomfortable situations when needed, but afterwards I might not remember a single thing and I feel utterly drained.

As I'm horrible with group situations amongst strangers, I don't give the best impression at different networking events and gatherings. Some take my quietness personally, when it's totally 117% about me feeling uncomfortable about the situation and not at all about the person I've (not) talked to.

I absolutely dread ice-breaking group exercises. If there is a round of "say your name and xyz about yourself", I can't hear what anyone else says about themselves because my brain is on repeat; "Your name is Jenna. Your name is Jenna." (Like I would suddenly forget at 34 years of age...)

Being quiet also makes me a terrible salesperson. Any kind of sales tactic or strategy puts me off – and if it doesn't feel right to me, surely my clients won't feel good about it either.

Documentary Family Photography Workshops

I feel awkward talking on the phone, which is why I always try to schedule a video call or go to coffee with parents who inquire about sessions. Somehow being face-to-face, even if it's on video, helps. I still feel a little awkward at the beginning and at the end of video calls, because I have all these images how I "should" start and end these types of conversations – which again have felt out of alignment with who I am and how I want to do business.

I used to think I should keep my introvertism to myself when it comes to work.

Discovery: being an introvert is a good thing

DFP Education Workshops

Recently I had an experience where I had to face my introvertism, but in a good way. I had a coaching session with Nick McArthur, who helps professionals figure out what makes them different from everyone else.

I always thought I was different, because I see the importance of documenting the everyday for families instead of doing only posed portrait sessions. But that isn't really about me, is it? I was hiding behind this "differentiator", really.

It was a huge relief to discover that being an introvert isn't something I have to hide in my work life – that it's actually something that I should embrace.

Documentary Photography Resources

Some discoveries this far:

1. Being an introvert helps me connect with parents and kids who are also on the quiet side, and who might be scared-to-death about working with a super extrovert photographer.

2. I bring a calm presence to sessions, which helps whether there's a worrisome turn of events at the hospital or when parents are simply nervous about being in pictures.

3. I'm honest and upfront when it comes to the session process and the pricing. Nothing would horrify me more than a family being upset because of some hidden cost that pops up after the session.

4. My pictures are much more about the families I photograph, than about me as the photographer. I don't leave my mark with props, poses, or lighting setups. I believe that families are enough just as they are.

5. I match the mood in the room, and enjoy being the mostly quiet observer.

6. Because I am the quiet observer instead of the life of the party, I notice the little things. A touch here, a tiny misbehavior there – and the pleading eyes of hungry furry family members.

7. Because I don't like to toot my own horn, I need to learn how to ask for help. Whether that's blog post shares, photo session referrals, or reviews and testimonials – all those things would be important for my business yet feel so difficult to ask for.


Figuring this all out, in work as well as life, will take some time. I've been trying to be someone beyond myself for so long, which I now see has been a big waste of time and energy. Now that I'm more aware, I'll probably notice more and more situations where I should embrace my disposition instead of hide it.


Thank you for sticking with me as I navigate this discovery.