I’m an Imposter

By:  Talor Stone                                                                                                             January 12th, 2019

I have a confession…

I’m not who you think I am.

I’m a fraud… a phony.

I’m no one.

I have frequent anxiety – terrified someone will open their eyes and realize the truth.  There’s an imposter in their midst.  She has red hair and wears a constant smile to hide the truth – she doesn’t belong.  She hasn’t really earned the right to be called a photographer.  She must have just slipped through the cracks like some B-lister sneaking into an A-list party armed with nothing but a smile and an easy laugh as camouflage.


Imposter Syndrome:  A pattern in which one doubts their accomplishments and holds a persistent internalized belief that they are a fraud who fears becoming exposed.


I doubt I’m alone in feeling this.  In fact, I know I’m not alone.  Imposter Syndrome is a real thing.  Especially in today’s world of quickly consumable social media where nothing is as it appears, it’s easy to feel like a fraud.  With technology as an interface, I can make anything appear real and everything my eyes take in may not be as it seems.  This has been a serious

struggle for me as I’ve tried to move my love and passion for photography into an actual sustainable business.

Turns out in real life I’m pretty darn awkward.

There are so many questions!  How should I “brand” myself?  What should I use to promote my images?  What is authentic and how much of my true self do I want to put out there?  But these questions are just logistics… there are much bigger ones.

Am I good?  Do I deserve to call myself a photographer, or am I just a girl with a camera?  How do I know the difference?  Will I be validated or recognized or accepted?  Will I ever BE anyone?  Will I ever “make it” and how do I know when I do?

hiking, switzerland, alps, swiss alps, hike, solo, female, adventure, snow, glacier, ice, mountain, peak, summit

Is this what a photographer looks like? Asking for a friend…

God… it’s daunting.  Some questions I know the answer to.  I never want to be a “travel girl.”  You know the type.  The “I quit my 9 to 5 travel the world” type.  The “I haven’t been there yet, but it’s on my list” type.  That works for some people, but I need my life to mean more than that and be more honest than that.

I NEVER want to use my body to promote my work.  There are occasional pictures with me in them…enough for people to know that I’m not a terrible looking woman… but my images featuring me are always intended to enhance the image in some meaningful way.  Sex sells, but not for me.  I won’t compromise on that.

All for this view.

Car camping life

I don’t want my life to be “boutique” or “curated.”  I know I could post glamorous images of the high life of travel carefully arranged in soothing colors on a stylized feed, but I’d much rather share the dirty truth.  I try to portray my life honestly… I sleep in my car, wash my hair in truck stop sinks and use hand dryers to blow dry it.  Yeah… it’s absurd, but this is my real life.  I’m a PhD student who struggles to make ends meet, travels every moment I’m able, lives and travels on a ridiculous budget just to afford it, and gosh darn it I just want to pursue my dreams.  My travel isn’t glamorous and it definitely isn’t always fun.  I’m the biggest screw-up I know.  I just want to be real, but that sure is scary.

The same with my images.  Hell, I don’t know if they’re objectively any good.  Who even decides this stuff?  I feel like every time I promote my business or a sale or an art show that I’m just faking it.  Do I even have the right to ask someone to spend money on my work?  Just who the heck do I think I am?!  Every time someone asks me what I do and I answer, “I’m a photographer,” I feel like an entire boulder just magically appeared in my stomach.  I’m afraid they will look at my images, give me a placating “mhmmm,” and walk away.  I’m afraid someone in the crowd will shout out, “She’s full of shit! She’s no one! She’s lying!”

Turns out not all animals like me either!

The truth is… I don’t know if I’m any good and I don’t know if I ever will be.  I know better than to wait for external validation to get internal satisfaction, but knowing that and practicing it are two different things.  It’s still hard and I spend a lot of time questioning myself.  This questioning has resulted in my rather dismal blog writing schedule.  Trust me… I have lots written, but I am always afraid to share it.  Afraid to expose myself to a world of onlookers who may just realize that I’m faking it through life pretending to know what I’m doing.  How dare I even pretend to give advice?  Am I even qualified to do that?

SO awkward

The truth is… I don’t know what I’m doing.  Let me shout that a little louder:  I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!!!!!  I have no clue how to market my work.  I don’t know how to play the social media game.  I don’t know how to become successful or if I have even earned the right to dream such dreams.  How can I ask others to buy into my dream when I, myself, feel as though I’m an imposter?

All of this is not intended to be a pity party.  I’m not digging for compliments or validation.  I only want to be honest in everything I do.  My images are always honest, minimally edited, and never photoshopped.  My social media posts, stories and captions are always the awkward, weird, and often inconvenient truth about my life and my travel.  And my words… I’m sorry to say my readers get the unfiltered brunt of it.

I haven’t been blogging lately and it’s because of this gnawing struggle I’ve had with feeling as though I’m an imposter in my own world.  It has created a contradiction in which I want to write and share, but I always second guess myself.  Maybe if I just share my fear then I will find it easier to share my words and my art.  I want to pull away the curtains and shine a light on this shadowy monster that’s been holding me back.  I have hopes and dreams, and I don’t want to live in constant doubt of whether I am worthy of attaining them.  It’s time to let that go.

My name is Talor.  I AM a photographer.

No make-up, dirty hair, the real deal. But hey… that smile though.

2019-04-10T20:39:39-05:00

19 Comments

  1. Vannessa Smith January 12, 2019 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    What an honest take on what so many feel. Read recently, that success is not playing it safe. Looks like you are riding the wave of taking chances and living outside the box. Keep writing. You have a great gift. Someday I hope to come to a book signing. Much luck and love.

    • Talor Stone January 13, 2019 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks Vannessa! You are always so amazingly supportive and I’m so grateful.

  2. M January 13, 2019 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Hi Talor,
    Not everyone is willing to seek to be “real”. That’s because it is scary and HARD; especially in our world as it exists today. I admire you for following your desire to travel and capture what you see in photographs. I think you’re a photographer. My advise: as Dory said, “just keep swimming”.

    • Talor Stone January 13, 2019 at 12:05 pm - Reply

      Michael and this is why you will always be a mentor to me! I always love and appreciate your feedback

  3. Maciej January 13, 2019 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Absolutely Love it! Very relatable, I especially liked the part about being honest, promoting photos with nudity and glamourus life and I’m happy that there are still people who choose to earn their money the hard way. I think that every photographer feels the same as you, at least at some point in their career.
    Great work, keep it up!!!

    • Talor Stone January 13, 2019 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m glad you found this relatable. That’s honestly the highest compliment I could ever receive!

  4. John January 13, 2019 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Very honest and inspiring. You seem to be very effectively living the moment. And that is the most important part of life, the journey. Take care.

  5. Scott January 13, 2019 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    This speaks so many truths. Quite a bit I can not relate to but other bits I absolutely can. It is always a question in my mind if I’m actually good. People compliment but yet I struggle to accept. Every image I post after editing, I feel like I got lucky. When on occasion I sell an image, again I feel like I got lucky. Taking photos at friends weddings, despite then saying if they get one photo, they are happy….immense amount of stress and anxiety and even though thrilled with the photos, I feel I got lucky. So yes, I like many feel like as you do. But I like to think it is a good thing as I feel this fear is also what keeps us true and humble.

  6. Mary Mills January 13, 2019 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    Taylor, I believe you are a photographer and a good one! Life is constantly striving to be our best! That can be ever changing. When you study your work years from now you might be critical of your work but you really will be seeing is how are work and tanacity paying off. Keep putting each foot forward and you will reach the goals you have set for yourself.

  7. Devon Drinkard January 13, 2019 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    Excellent! You really are an inspiration woman! Totally brave especially when baring your soul!

  8. PI January 15, 2019 at 2:01 am - Reply

    You bring some of earth’s most alluring spectacles to the comfort of peoples homes in the most epic and raw fashion. You are an adventurer and one HELL of a photographer. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise (Not even yourself).

    • Talor Stone January 23, 2019 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      haha well thank you! I truly appreciate these amazing words of encouragement and support.

  9. Garen January 17, 2019 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    I’m by no means an expert on the subject, but I think you’re right, by writing the words hopefully you will get some help in navigating these questions. My two cents on you being a photographer: you absolutely are. What you describe here makes me think of Van Goh. It’s sad to think about the amount of work the guy put in and yet, he never really felt validated as an artist, but what is an artist? A photographer? To me it’s exactly what you describe here. Following your passions, expressing yourself honestly, and above all, putting in the work. Keep conveying the world in your way, and you’ll find those who feel the same.

    • Talor Stone January 23, 2019 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much Garen. I hope life is treating you well!

  10. Aydee & Santiago January 22, 2019 at 12:56 am - Reply

    Im so sorry I didn’t get a chance to read it before, you know very well how busy & tired my days are,but PLEASE don’t be so hard on yourself, I admire your work & santiago too.

  11. Elizabeth March 23, 2019 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    It’s honesty like this that actually does something for the world. I NEVER comment on blogs, but I simply couldn’t ignore this one. Well said girl, and holy freaking shmoly, there are so many people (me included) that would love to be half as good as you! I can absolutely relate to the whole “imposter syndrome” thing, but at least that means you are putting yourself out there. I am still getting up the courage to even do that! Thank you so much for your honesty and keep up the good work!

    • Talor Stone April 10, 2019 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      Thank you SO much! These words put wind in my wings, you have no idea.

  12. Ed Obermeyer November 12, 2019 at 7:25 am - Reply

    Impressive blog Taylor and you truly are a “Real Photographer” and then some. Thank you also for your service to our country. Your plan is spot on and you will be a huge success as if you are not already. Stay the course and see you at the next show!

    • Talor Stone November 12, 2019 at 7:33 am - Reply

      Thanks so much Ed! I’ll see ya in the spring!!

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