Trusting myself on the journey
In this fast paced world, we all have gotten used to things being ready in an instant. As technology advances and information is more readily available from different mediums, our thirst for quick turn around times seems to grow. I have to remind myself at times to not expect things so quickly and just be patient.
One thing I have learned over my time being a photographer is to relax and be creative in the moment. When I first started, the thought of a photoshoot gave me anxiety, and not the good kind. There was something about putting myself out there, knowing that I needed to deliver and clients paying me to produce. I think that is a natural part of doing any job but as subjective as photography is, the pressure seemed more heavy. This, coming from a guy who has been a network engineer and system administrator for almost 20 years. One who has implemented cutovers to new systems, specked out and purchased equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, amongst other high pressure situations. One thing I have learned in my IT profession is to calm down because being stressed clouds the mind and leads to failure, something that is not optional if you want to keep your job. Trust your knowledge and prepare accordingly so you can complete the task at hand. Of course my first few big projects, I was a mess but I managed to push through. With each success, I became more confident and learned to be calm and navigate to the finish.
With IT work, you have to learn systems and memorize a lot of material over the years. Once you understand the basics, it all pretty much works the same with some systems being more or less complex. It’s really about having the base knowledge, expanding on it and providing solutions with that you’re given. I find similarities in photography but the cool part is, I get to forge my own creative path. With IT work, it’s pretty cut and dry with little creativity. Some may argue that point but I’m referring more to artistic creativity.
Expanding my knowledge
As I explained about my anxiety on photo shoots before, I learned something over time. One can have a game plan and an overall goal for a photoshoot but you are allowed to be creative with those constraints. Don’t get me wrong, I still get those butterflies in my stomach on photoshoot, much like when I played basketball and other sports in high school. Anxiety can be crippling but butterflies can be managed.
There are a multitude of things that helped me learn to control my anxiety on shoots. The biggest thing was being familiar with my camera and how it worked. I knew early on, especially being a tech head, that I needed to know how to work my camera without really looking at it. Let’s face it, camera’s today are more like computers than the historical cameras of the past. This leads me to my second item, education. On top of learning how to use my camera and the different settings, educating myself on poses, lighting and other intricacies helped tremendously. With learning and applying all these items came the most important item…allowing myself to be creative. By that I mean, based on what I see on a shoot, I get ideas in the moment. Photography is really just a lot of problem solving. What do my settings need to be for a particular look? How much light is available? How is the light falling on my subjects face or body? Is this a flattering pose? The problem solving goes on and on. You can see how this would create crippling anxiety for someone if they didn’t know how to use their camera.
Making time for creativity
I have learned to allow myself to be creative in the moment. So much of being a photographer is seeing a great moment and capturing it. Setting yourself up so that when something awesome occurs, you can quickly adjust and get the shot. I told someone the other day “Photography is like chasing something I’ll never catch or I will never master.”, which is part of the fun. Will I catch some awesome moments along my journey? Of course I will! Will I get really good at my craft, most likely. But I’m not sure any photographer knows what “mastering” photography really is. It’s hard to explain but as a photographer, I’m always looking to improve and provide different styles. It has become an obsession for me personally and I know other photographers feel the same way. Constantly straining to be better.
Let me expand on being creative in the moment and what I mean. Any photoshoot I approach is done so with my vision and my clients vision in mind. I like for everyone to be on the same page so the expectations are generally known. One day it finally hit me, I needed to trust my creativity in these different situations and embrace it. After all, most, if not all of my clients, came to me for my vision and my style. Not anyone else’s, mine.
There is so much pressure, mostly on myself, to get the shots but I learned to allow myself time to be creative. My clients have to trust me and allow me to be creative. When I started doing this, my work got better and I was able to grow as a photographer.
Learning to be patient
Patience is a virtue. That old adage rings true as we all grow older and hopefully wiser. I know that from a photography perspective, I learn something every time I pick up a camera and click the shutter button. One of the most amazing things that top tier photographers do on a regular basis is tell a story with their photos. This is why we get so emotionally attached to a set of images, because deep down, we see the story and are trying to work it out in our mind. I’m amazed with all the sports I cover, that I always find a way to tell the story of a game. In the back of my mind, I always worry about having a set of images that tell the story in a few frames, mostly predicated on the 10 images Instagram lets you post. Part of that is noticing big moments in a game but also remembering that the game isn’t the only thing happening. Crowd emotion, coach emotion, celebrations…the list goes on. I have to constantly gauge and evaluate the scene and capture that moment when it happens. All the while, doing it in my own creative way. And let me tell you, sometimes a photographer just gets lucky.
I hope my previous clients and future clients enjoy going on the creative journey with me. Know that I always work my tail off to get the best images possible. Making time to be creative and allowing time to be creative are important aspects to get the best results. Client satisfaction is of the utmost importance to me and if you’re happy, I’m happy. I want to provide memories for individuals and families so they can have that emotional reaction when looking over a set of images down the road. If I can capture a persons essence in that moment, that time in their life, I’ve done my job.