Story Time: My First Shoot
Everyone starts somewhere.
No matter what your business is, you had a ‘first time’ trying your hand at the ropes and if you’re like me, it wasn’t very pretty. I’m not going to name any names for the sake of my wonderful (and patient) models, but I want to tell the story of my very first paid photoshoot in May of 2014.
For starters, I think I ‘charged’ (if you can even call it that) $40. Maybe even less than that. Regardless, I was happy to be getting my first shoot under my belt. It was a nice day, not too hot or too cool and the sun was behind the clouds most of the time that I was shooting. Thank GOD for that! I have no idea how I would have been able to handle harsh lighting that day.
At this time, I had knowledge of camera settings and I knew how I wanted the photos to look, but actually making it happen in the moment was a little bit of a different story. I was so nervous. Like, sweat dripping down my back and forgetting everything I know about my camera, nervous. And I knew these people personally! That was the point that I realized that portrait photography is a lot different than just strolling around with my camera with all the time in the world to change settings and take a million test shots. How was I supposed to ever shoot strangers if I couldn’t even pull it together and think straight for people that I knew?
After 15 minutes or so of shooting I started to calm down a bit, but still was blanking out at how to pose them together in the least awkward way possible. Posing was and still is absolutely the most challenging part of portrait photography for me. Sure, some models are more natural than others, but as a photographer it’s my job to help out in that department. Something that I had a VERY hard time with on my first shoot.
Of course there were other problems with the photos if we’re going to pick them apart. Focus issues, inconsistent editing, weird cropping, the list goes on. But, overall I was happy with how they turned out and I did the best I could at the time.
No one comes running out of the gate knowing everything or being perfect at what they do. We are our own worst critic and I’m no exception. I could write a book of things that I would have done differently 4 years ago in my photography, but I suppose that’s proof that I’ve gotten better and that my college photography courses did serve a purpose.
So, reflecting on my very first shoot 4 years ago and the many shoots in between then and now, I can say that I’ve learned for any skillset or talent, it’s almost useless if you can’t perform in the moment when asked. Taking photos at your own leisure is great and fun, but you have to know your trade inside and out, all the time, half asleep without coffee, with your eyes closed. That’s what differentiates a really good photographer from a meh photographer. Do I have it all figured out? No way. I learn something new at EVERY SINGLE shoot that I do. The fact is that practice really does make perfect and you have to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone to feel any level of expertise in your trade. I’ve found this to be true in all aspects of my life, from photography to graphic design to any of the odd jobs I held through college.
At this point, if you’re still reading this, I’m sure you’re curious about how these photos turned out. Obviously I am not putting them in the article, but a die-hard Facebook creep like myself would have no problem finding them on my page. Just saying. :)