This post really has nothing to do with bubble wrap unless you’re staring at it on your desk as well but it really is about a few thoughts I have on photography. ;)
I can still remember sitting for hours upon hours in front of my computer starting….motionless except for the click of my mouse in the Spring of 2006. I had no idea what went into a being a photographer. All I knew is that I wanted to create photos as beautiful as what I saw. BAD. I wanted to create memorable images, shots that haven’t been seen or done before. I can still remember one of the first contemporary albums I stumbled upon that day online. BLEW. MY. MIND. Seriously? Weddings could be documented like that????!!!!! WOW. And so it began, in that very moment for me.
That Spring, I met a guy would who really introduce me to photography. From him, I learned more than just the technical aspects of the camera. I learned about business, about client relationships, and how to make a living from photography. He set me up with my first bride in (I believe it was) the Fall of 2007. I was petrified, but gave it all I had, and knew immediately I was addicted. I would talk about some of the ideas that I had or how I wanted to photograph the couples with him…I wanted clients that were unafraid to be who they are, and to be a bit different.
Now, I have clients like that and I STILL can’t believe it! There are SO many things that I learn on a daily basis, most of which I may not even realize. And today, I wanted to sit and think a bit about 10 things I’ve learned since the start about being a photographer. Please note that I, in no way, think that I know it all…these are simply my thoughts on my experiences and I hope that by sharing them, it can inspire at least one other person to keep moving forward.
- It’s not always a cake walk — (Is that the phrase I’m looking for??!! I tried to google it…no such luck. ;)…) — I LOVE what I do. I don’t mind, you can not like me for saying I like my job. But I do. In addition, I know I would MUCH rather be here in my office right now, writing this blog, in an office filled with images hanging of clients I love, than anywhere else. But don’t be fooled either. This job has been NO joke; And I’ve observed that the best in this field, work hard. I can see it in them. One day, I strive to be as much of a leader as they are…but for now, I’m learning, sweating (definitely sweating in this heat), and taking my mistakes in stride. I realize that not everyday will be perfect. But the opportunity to live doing something that makes me happy, is perfect.
- Being a Professional is more than wearing a Suit – It’s actually not about what you wear at all, as long as it’s not white (the bride may not like you very much for that). :) Yes, looking professional and being well put together is important but I’ve learned that being a professional is more about the way you treat your clients and others in the industry. Professionalism (in my opinion) is more than your equipment, it’s the WHOLE package: Promise + Delivery, Character, Knowledge, and Organization.
- I know I’m not the only one who crys – I’ve said it before and I’m not afraid to say it again, I’m sensitive. And I know that I’m not the only one who is this way. My clients are as well; and being exposed to the camera (I know) can be one of the absolute scariest things. I realize that as photographers, we are asking you to expose your vulnerabilities, so being sensitive to their feelings, is SO SO important.
- A.W.A.R.E. — No, unfortunately I’m not smart enough to make the word actually stand for anything, I just thought the text would look cool with periods in between. But it DOES stand for something necessary. Being aware is unBELIEVABY important. A moment can happen in the blink of an eye. Unexpected emotions, a change in plans, or an exchange of words can come and go in a SECOND. Being aware is a must….
- LESS Talking, MORE Listening — Alright, so I’m still working on this one, but I know it’s important. Again, this goes back to my clients being vulnerable. And I don’t want to ask them more than once. When they’re sharing things like how they met or any intimate detail…I really don’t want to have to ask them twice. Now, I am forgetful so forgive me if I repeat myself, but the point is about being more focused on them and less on me. I grew up the baby girl of three so I have been given my fair share of attention. However, it is NOT my day, it’s their’s and I want it to be 100% about making them happy.
- “If you Build it, they will come.” — Confidence is tough. Even if you say you don’t care, you most likely do. I try to fool myself into thinking that what other people say doesn’t matter but I still hear it/read it and it’s still important. And SO…I always have to remind myself that confidence is key. Knowing your abilites and having the confidence to execute them is key. Your clients will trust you and in turn, you will feel better about yourself and your accomplishments as a photographer.
- I promise, it’s ok to laugh. — I am guilty; at times, I’ve held back. I’ve wanted to be vulnerable too and I didn’t. But little by little, I’ve opened up more of myself and seen more in return. I heard Jesh De Rox once say that a client will only cry with you, if they’ve laughed with you first and it’s true. My closest friends are those that I can laugh with, cry with, and just be myself around. So, remember…have fun! After all, isn’t that what life’s about?!
- Leaving the Pre-Conceived Ideas Behind — We all have expectations. And it’s not to say that having an idea of what’s to come is not important, but one thing I’ve learned to avoid is OVER planning. And trust me, if anyone is an over planner…it’s me. :( Flipping through wedding blogs and becoming inspired by others’ photography is important. But somewhere along the way, I had to realize that this is MY work, my clients (or YOUR clients and your work)…and in reality, most poeple want something different. The only way to really do that, is by getting to know them, understanding who they are, and creating something unique and spontanious for them.
- Being like Drew Brees — Personally, I took the learn-as-I-go approach. If I could have done it over again, I suppose I would have worked with an actual WEDDING photographer before I began. But….as I like to say, “It is what it is.” As a result, I’ve learned the importance of knowing my equipment. In a crutch situation, there is not time. Like Drew Brees says, “When it’s game time, there’s no time to think, you have to be prepared to react.” This comes with practice and preparation.
- Setting the Table — It was a chore I absolutely DESPISED growing up. We would get ready for dinner and my mom would ask me to lay out the napkins, set up the forks and knives, and fill the cups with ice. BLAH. However, we wouldn’t have been ready for dinner without the table being set. When the wedding day…or any shoot for that matter rolls around, it’s imperative to have things ready, all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. ;) My softball coach always used to say…”The hay is in the barn.” :) :) :) This still makes me smile.
Today’s post was actually a lot of fun to write! It’s interesting having those moments of reflection. :) :)
If there’s one thing that you’ve learned that you’d like to share, I’d love to have you comment with your thoughts below!
I’m sure you all have lots more experience and knowledge to give to the world. :)