What If … The Growing Pains of a Photographer

Art-wise the past few months have been quite a lively time for me. I’ve started building up my photography portfolio recently and have been involved in more and more shoots as time has gone by. Photography has developed into a true passion of mine. It is what my heart desires at the current moment. Despite my liking for it and wanting to shoot out in the field every single day, there are a few aspects that have become larger as we speak. They are called the growing pains of an aspiring photographer. I also like to name then the “what ifs”.

Doubt is a natural thing for anyone to have. I have started dealing with doubts the more and more pressure has been put on me. I believe the first time it must have been when I was the only professional shooting my friend’s wedding back in Germany. It all started good, I had my camera ready and was ready to roll. All of a sudden the battery started acting up and the camera shut off. “Don’t you have a back-up or anything?” my friend whispered to me while she witnessed a shocked expression slowly forming on my face. “Uh, I used to but it dropped and shattered into pieces last week” was my shaky answer. I hoped that it was just a temporary thing and that I was still able to get some pictures on that very special day. I knew how much the couple was counting on me. Luckily, for me and everyone else, I got some great 600 shots over the course of the entire event. Canon did not disappoint.
I made a point in buying a backup battery the week I returned from my vacation and have successfully used it ever since.

Something like the aforementioned scenario could be any photographer’s biggest nightmare. Among others, of course. But what are you going to do if your only equipment gives up and you don’t have a Plan B? I have so far bought a few memory cards and other accessories to prevent these things from happening in the future. I have also come into possession of another digital camera, which I warily carry with me now. My photographer friend suggested a great thing: He told me I shouldn’t sell my old camera but keep it as a back-up. So if one fails, I still have another. What a fabulous plan, I find. I guess I have found my Plan B.

Other than equipment problems, there is the pressure of having to give a great performance on the day of the shoot. A good photographer has to be a master in directing. Your subjects are not paying you for nothing, right?! So if they are not in a good mood or insecure, you will have to swallow your annoyance down and try to change their attitude towards the shoot. I sometimes wonder on the day of the performance if I will be able to do it all. If I am able to find a good angle, to satisfy my client, to shoot some great pictures. So far, it has gone well each and every time. I have exceeded my initial expectations and every person has contributed to my outlook of things in a very special way. Still, performance pressure remains. Sometimes this is not a bad thing, I find. Because for every successfully mastered situation you gain a new confidence that stands in opposition to your doubt.

And then of course the big responsibility you carry. “Can you imagine everything going well and then you lose your pictures of the entire shoot?” my friend asked me once. I never really thought about it. And I hate to waste my time on compensation issues and damage payments for a case like this. Still, a reasonable doubt, how I find. I just hope I know how to deal with it the day it shows up.

As much fun as shooting people and events can be, there will always be a form of pressure nagging on you. Be it equipment troubles, performance pressure, weather-related problems or other get-in-the ways – you do not stand alone! Something that really helps me whenever I have any form of fear or self-doubt: Sh*t happens! To anyone. A fellow FIT course-mate told me about her first internship she had when she was in South Africa. She was accompanying a renowned wedding photographer on one of her clients’ special day. Suddenly her boss’ camera stopped working and my acquaintance was quickly made into the main photographer for the remainder of the event. It turned out to be a fabulous occasion for her to show her skill set and she mastered the rest just fine.

Yes, photographers have a great responsibility and carry a good amount of weight on their shoulders. But so do other jobs, don’t you think? The writer who has to come up with two articles a day or a written quota of words for a book. The model who has to get rid of all her zits and body fat within a week because Fashion Show is approaching. Or the CEO of a company who is made responsible for the loss of sales happening over the past month.

Photography is one of those things: As long as it is still fun and it satisfy your inner desires, it is worth pursuing. Responsibility and pressure taken aside: Sometimes you just have to purge ahead and make the best out of each new opportunity!

2 thoughts on “What If … The Growing Pains of a Photographer

  1. I have had some photo shoots and I know the difference between a good photographer and a mediocre one. Everyone can snap pics but not everyone can place you right, get the lighting and make you feel like a superstar and do it so gently that you don`t even notice it.

    Nobody wants to feel like an idiot as they do not know what to do or how to pose. All my respect to those who are masters of their trade.

    Two cameras, many SD cards, backup batteries…words of a prophet.

    • Agreed, agreed, aaand agreed! I am still at the very beginning of this. I do agree with your definition of being mediocre and highly professional. I had too many frustrating shoots during which I was the model where I thought: Is this really worth having a nice picture or two?

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