Friday, June 3, 2011

A post without photos: The emotional arch of a photoshoot

I had my first paid photo-shoot in a couple years yesterday, it was just a few simple snaps for my husbands business' website. I really do not like business photography because it is so un-artistic but I was glad to help out my hubs and I've become good friends with the owners and wanted to help them out with their website. So I agreed... and stepped on the emotional roller coaster that is a photo-shoot.

Phase one: excitement... that someone would consider me to be a good enough photographer to trust me to take the photos that will represent themselves and their business. yay! I'm so excited!

Phase two: terror... because what if I totally screw it up? What if I get zero usable photos? That would be an embarrassment to me and an inconvenience to them.

and so I vacillate between these two extremes of nerves for a day or two until the day of the photo-shoot arrives...

Phase three: panic... I wake up with a rush of adrenaline, I get up at least an hour before I really need to. I charge my camera batteries, check my equipment and my shot list. Heaven help the poor souls that make me later than I'd like to be to this photo-shoot. I drop them off at the babysitters with a "see ya - bye" and go the maximum speed limit to the photo-shoot's location.

Phase four: the shoot... I don't know how to explain how I feel during a photo-shoot. There are so many things to try to pay attention to and to try to manage all at once. There are the subjects themselves - I have to organize and direct them, keep my cool and try to keep them smiling while I'm trying to pay attention to my settings, bracket my shots to try to guarantee at least one usable shot - try to coax a genuine smile from behind the camera. Sometimes it's like piloting in auto-mode or an out-of-body experience. I just try to get through it and trust that the skills that I've been building up to now won't fail me!

Phase five: the post-photo-shoot high... I walk away from the photo-shoot on a huge high, thinking "that went better than I thought it would!"  I can't wait to get home to see my photos. I've got a ton of energy and feel really good about the experience and can't wait for the next!

Phase six: the crash... but that all evaporates as soon as I get home and load the photos onto my computer. I begin to sort through the photos I've taken and delete more than half of them within the first five minutes. I feel like a total failure as a photographer and like the entire photo-shoot was a waste of time. I'm getting better about this now that I'm doing more personal photo-shoots and my expectations have shifted from getting a hundred awesome shots to more like half a dozen, or even just one. If I get that one really good shot then I'm satisfied. But usually I feel pretty defeated sorting through all of these poorly exposed shots with horrible focus and terrible expressions. I start to wish that I'd never agreed to do this stupid photo-shoot in the first place.

Phase seven: all better... then I start to work my way through my photos. One by one I start cropping them, correcting them, tweaking them and saving them to one shiny special folder that I'll be burning to a CD to send to my client. As I browse through this file I start to realize that maybe I'm okay at this photography thing. That maybe this is something that I really can do. I show a few of my favorites to my husband and maybe share one or two on Facebook... if it's that type of shoot. And I start to feel better about my photography and the experience as a whole and can't wait to give an enthusiastic "yes" to the next person that asks.

I hope that you've enjoyed reading about my crazy roller-coaster ride... I'd love to hear about your experience!

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