I have recently noticed a trend in my own photography. Whether I want it or not, I seem to be throwing myself at the deep end, in the very unknown, agreeing and seeking out things to cover or create that I never thought I would or I never thought I could manage to.
I do not have stacks of experience or years and years under my belt, and perhaps there will come a point in my life where I’ll feel like I’ve done it all, I’ve seen it all, but I highly doubt it. In fact, I hope that never happens to me. There’s always something new that you can do to test yourself as a photographer and as a person.
I don’t say I’m great at what I do because I don’t feel like I am just yet, it’s still early days, but what I can say is that I do embrace the unknown. Far too many people get stuck. It’s fine to follow certain guidelines you’ve set yourself and for your business, and it’s fine to automate as much as you can in your work process to gain more precious time for yourself and your family away from the job.
But then there’s people who become so stuck in their ways that they cannot fathom putting themselves through something that may seem uncomfortable, new or different to what they are used to. But that’s how we grow, and that’s the only way to develop yourself.
To grow, we need to make mistakes. Doing that we’ll learn not only more about the trade and improved techniques of working but we’ll learn to deal with making mistakes. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of an angry or unhappy client, but we will come across that sooner or later, and best we can do is embrace the challenge, not take it personal, and deal with it.
There will be a day that you may photograph something or someone you have never shot before, and there will be a day where you’ll need to improvise and deal with terrible weather, light or space conditions. There will be a day when your equipment may fail you and you’ll still need to pick yourself up and deal with it head on, the best possible way you can.
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I shot a pregnant lady today. I had never done it before, nor have I done any baby or toddler photography before. It all sounded perfect – we’d plan a beautiful autumn themed photography session in the local park, where she’d take her toddler with her as well. I pictured images with the little one running around the fallen autumn leaves or throwing them around. I pictured his mum sat on the bench looking out and dreaming about her future. I imagined images of the two of them walking hand in hand, playfully hugging one another and exchanging lots of smiles.
Instead, I was faced with the worst weather imaginable. It did not stop raining ever since my early morning train, but there was no turning back. The journey was a little over two hours and with the baby being due a few days later, there literally was no other time to rearrange the shoot for.
It’s okay, I’d comfort myself. We can shoot some cute images in the park with the little one dashing through puddles, wearing wellies, while his mum would be holding an umbrella.
That didn’t go to plan either. The wind was blowing through every single layer, the umbrella option was a no-go because it’d bend to every gust of the wind, and my lovely pregnant client had glasses on that were full of rain drops so I’m surprised she could see anything at all.
As she met me at the tram station, we exchanged a ‘location shoot is not happening’ look. It’s fine, I’d try to cheer myself up again.
Our plan B was to head to her home. I knew we’d end up shooting there anyway but originally we planned to split the shoot with outdoors first and then finish indoors after she’s put the toddler to sleep.
Her beautiful bedroom was lightly coloured with whites and greys everywhere, from the walls to the bedding and furniture, to the carpet. A photographer’s dream room, however, this time I was met with one of the darkest days I’ve ever seen this autumn/winter. Only shortly after noon it felt like it’s an early evening. Very dark grey sky, with the never stopping rain making the matters worse.
So, what can you do? Shoot up your ISO and try your best.
I was sweating nervously, looking at the images anxiously, thinking ‘shit, am I doing this right?’. And what is ‘right’?
Thing is, I’ll never know what is the right shot, but what I’ll know is every time I throw myself in the dark, deep end of the unknown I will try my best, my nerves will keep me on my toes, and I’ll do the best I can. It’s nice to appear relaxed in front of your client, but at the same time do not lose that little bit of excitement and anxiety all in one because once you start thinking ‘ah, it’ll be fine’, it may not be.
Once you stop caring, you will have already lost a large part of your passion and reasons why you are in the business in the first place. Let’s not let that happen.
P.S. Here’s a few from the shoot.