Take risks and challenges head on with your photography business
Expanding on a previous article on “starting out“, I want to tell you a quick story!
One thing I have learnt over the years and especially so with my photography business is to step out of my comfort zone once in a while. It is all too easy for anyone to amble along through life keeping the reigns tightly held back on your hobby, job or career and settle for the easy route whilst deep inside you have a passion for running your own photography business one day!
Life is too short…
What holds most people back is the fear of failure or messing up a paying clients’ images coupled with the notion and fear of not “making it” in the world of professional photography. I also read regularly about people “not being quite ready” just yet.
These fears are hard to overcome and there is not much I or anyone else can say to make you feel like the time is right…it is never right! After all it took Thomas Edison 10,000 failures to finally perfect the light bulb (although some credit has to go to Joseph Swan, a British inventor who actually invented the light bulb first).
Regardless, Edison did not stop at failure number one, two three or even 9,000…he kept going and that is the point. You may well “slightly” mess up your first wedding or portrait sitting.
You might get home after shooting the interior of a hotel only to realise that your rear LCD screen when checking images for exposure was on “bright” mode and all your images are underexposed by a few stops.
As long as you have yourself covered by either shooting the wedding for free or promising a re-shoot of a portrait or property shoot should anything go wrong (as well as explaining to the client beforehand that you are a novice), you can only improve and learn by your mistakes. This all starts with getting out of your comfort zone.
This can be quite scary and nerve racking as I myself found out once.
I have a ton of high definition video gear after buying it to shoot various promotional videos and stock videography (as well as family events) so I decided to try and put it to better use.
There has always been a bit of an ongoing feud between wedding photographers and videographers as each generally battles for prime position during a wedding so I decided to try and see it from the latter’s perspective, I would video an entire wedding…something I have never done “for real” before.
After putting up an ad offering to shoot a wedding for free on my website for just a week or so, I had a taker. A young army couple from Plymouth who would be getting married in the wonderful Citadel…a 350 year old British stronghold that is still in use today. It has a quaint little chapel within its grounds and this would be followed by a reception in the 150 year old Duke of Cornwall Hotel.
All I asked was that they pay my fuel prices, my time was theirs in exchange for the opportunity to practice on them….wow, what an experience and I now have a better understanding of what videographers have to go through!
All three venues (Citadel, hotel room on second floor for dinner/speeches and basement for party, dance and “casino”) were just a short drive from each other so not too bad but from the second I set off in the morning, the wedding gremlins starting playing up!
Plymouth is about 100 miles from Weymouth and soon as I set off, the heavens opened and didn’t close for the entire journey. The rain was lashing down and was forecast to stay for the day and even to get worse. Not only that, about 10 miles into the journey, the temperature gauge on my car shot through the roof and my heart sank.
This was an ongoing historic problem with the car’s electrics which I thought were fixed. What happened before was that the instruments would all fail and the car would eventually stall and not start again for hours.
I kept my head down and carried on for 90 miles.
I limped into the hotel car park 2 hours later, turned the engine off, tried to start it again and nothing…zip..nada! It was an hour before I was meant to be at the church and I was stuck with a boot load of gear (3 cameras, three tripods, video lights, sound equipment, 2 camera bags etc) in a dead car…walking was impossible.
Luckily, the photographer called me at that point to introduce himself and after I explained my predicament, he offered to collect me and take me to the church. An hour later(!) I was still waiting…he had been caught in the Easter traffic and had moved 3.5 miles in that one hour…
When he finally arrived, we made it to the church and I had a short while to place two static cameras at key points and lock them down, do a quick sound check and make sure all media cards were running with enough space for the ceremony.
I had the Sony PMW EX1set up near the door to capture the bride arriving as well as much of the ceremony from one angle, I had another Sony HD camera behind the Padre to film the couple during the ceremony with the congregation in the background and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II on a shoulder mount to capture anything else as I moved around.
The bride arrived on time, the ceremony went well and without a hitch and the photographer and myself worked very amicably together (being a wedding photographer myself, I knew the score and kept out of his way).
Then came the fun part.
We had to go through to the back of the church, out through a door into another section to witness the signing of the register. Then we had to make the most of the break in the weather and get up onto the battlements for some nice, portraits etc and then make our way back to the hotel before the bride and groom.
Now, for a photographer, this is simple (or at least it seems that way now). You usually have one camera on the go and everything else neatly stashed in a single bag. Me, I had 3 video cameras, 2 tripods, sound equipment all over the place, a case and a rucksack to contend with.
However, with a bit of cunning planning and forethought during my reccie visit, I managed not only to cope pretty well with the stress and logistics, I was actually ready to leave for the reception before the photographer.
Lugging all that gear from his car to the front of the hotel to grab the couple arriving and then head up two flights of stairs ready for the reception was another story though…I had to get everything set up with another sound check before they made it there…
Still, I got it done and had the cameras rolling ready for the line up and start of the reception. Then came the dance…
Whilst they finished their sweet/dessert, I had to once again pack everything away and make the trip back down two flights of stairs, out onto the main road, along a bit and down into the basement for the first dance and casino/bar.
Did that and finished up with the first dance by around 9.45pm and then had to call the local garage to come and get my car moving…I had a 100 miles to drive and was already knackered!
They got it started but within 5 miles on the M5, all lights (including headlights) faded and the instruments went crazy again…luckily, after hitting the windscreen wipers everything went back to normal. This screams “electrical fault” to me so a diagnostic is in order next week.
Got to bed at about 1am totally exhausted but exhilarated by the fact that I had done what I had set out to achieve/accomplish/try out/experiment with.
I have a new found respect and kudos for wedding videographers and promise not to give them any grief at future weddings…
The morale of this article is that I was so far out of my comfort zone it wasn’t funny and all without an assistant (mental note…get an assistant). Break through that fear barrier, get out there and just go for it.
I often get moments of inspiration and motivation in life that spur me on and something that happened soon after that wedding was no exception. A family member aged just 45 died whilst sitting at his computer…no stress, no signs of pain or struggle, he just “stopped”. Apparently he had a heart condition that no-one knew about.
As I said before, life is too short!
By filming this wedding, I proved to myself that I could do something radically different to what I am used to and the same goes for anyone…if you have a dream to do something and/or want to pursue any career you fancy, you can, there is nothing stopping you except YOU!