I'm stressing out!
I have a paying photo shoot coming up and I'm starting to stress out about it. Since it is still a few days away, I'm doing fairly well. Yet with each passing day I can feel my throat slowly tightening, my heart beating a bit faster and the need to use more antiperspirant! Anybody who knows me knows this is something I don't normally do--a paying photo shoot that is. Stressing out, well I excel at that, and do quite often. You name it, and most likely I have stressed out about it at some point in my 52 years on this planet.
It boils down to a few things. First, I'm not much of a leader, more of a follower. Unfortunately, to photograph people, you have to take charge and tell the client what you need them to do. Not a strong point of mine. This could be traced back to my early childhood where I learned that the adults are to be followed, listened to, learned from, and you do what is asked. Today, that has become somebody else should be in charge and leading. Leading was a skill I never learned, always placing another person in charge and doing what I'm asked to do still works for me. Thinking of myself as a kid this way is my secret to staying young.
Second, I guess it helps if you feel confident in what you are doing and that you feel you can and will be able correctly do the task at hand. Always big hurtle for me, having questioned myself on everything I have done my whole life. This arises because I'm poor at spelling, reading, math, etc. I found myself never trusting what I had done to be right. So maybe I am good at photography, but as with everything else in the back of my head I'm thinking, “am I really doing this right and can I do it?” Then toss in a bad memory and I become a real bad mixture of thinking too much and insecurities.
I try to be humble and not brag about what my abilities might be. This is so as not to be found out to be a fraud by the people I could be shooting. I live by the old saying "let people assume you are smart instead of opening your mouth and proving you are not”.....or something along those lines. These next few stress points go a little like this, I joke that I'm not a people person. That is not really the case, I love people, but I am very much in the “introverted camp” having learned the truth at 17. I look at portraits and wish I could do that but alas I hold myself back. Lastly, there is the whole responsibility thing about taking somebody's money and worrying, ok stressing out about it; will I be able to produce a quality product for them? My real photography enjoyment comes from going off and doing my own shooting when I want and how I want. No rules, requirements or guidelines! After that comes the hope of somebody buying prints from me. Though this business model maybe not be the best, I'm going with it for now.
This will be my fourth paying shoot in the nine years I have been doing photography. Today, it's a good thing I have a friend and fellow photographer I can send somebody to when I'm asked to do this kind of work. I could have really used her back for my first paying shoot. It was a small wedding in the couple's backyard. This would be a second wedding for each so at least I didn't have the full pressure of a big wedding to shoot! This was back in the days of shooting film so I couldn't check my exposure, had to change rolls after 36 frames and had no idea how to price things, still don't. Yet I came up with a price, got the film developed and then had them scanned and copied to a CD. The couple was very happy with what I had done which was a good ending to that adventure, one that I never wanted try again. You see, this shoot almost caused my own divorce! Since it took a few days to get the film back, all I did during that time was mope around and complain about how badly I must have been at taking the photos, what I had missed, etc. It was driving the lovely Kath nuts! She was trying to buck me up, reasoning since I had not seen the developed film and prints I didn't know if things were indeed a failure. She was right of course, (as she quite frequently is!) but I was having none of it. In the end all was fine and right in the world, and we have lived on together to celebrate our 30th anniversary this summer.
So, here I go again, not into the great unknown but into a known place that I'm not very comfortable visiting. Maybe in the long run it's good to stick my toes in there from time to time. They say if it doesn't kill you then it makes you stronger, well I don't know about that but what I can say for me is, it causes me to use more antiperspirant!
One last note, my third paying shoot was very easy, I enjoyed it and I didn't freak out! Yup, I know! I was doing it for my follow photographer and friend Meghan Lince. The reason it was fun and easy was because I already knew her so and was past the first meeting stage and second she knew what she wanted so I didn't have to director her. A win win in my books!
One thing that will really help with this shoot is I'll have the lovely Kath along to help me. I still will feel my throat slowly tightening, but at least not as much, and afterward, we are going out for dinner....sort of a date night!