Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Time as a Photographer

OR "How I gained so much more respect for real photographers."

When a friend asked me to take her engagement photos, I was not only hesitant but a little surprised.  I had never really taken pictures of people the way real photographers do and knew that I was way under qualified.  So I was frank with her and said, "I'm not really a photographer... and I can't edit them.  I don't have the software or skills to do that."  Yet, she still insisted - and I insisted on doing it for free.  God bless her for having so much confidence in me.

For the next week or so, I stressed constantly about how I was going to pull this off.  I mean, the list of things I had to remember was tremendous - lighting, composition, energy, poses, angles.  I had just gotten my new fancy camera a few months earlier, so I also had to remember how to fix the white balance, what setting to use for which lighting, if I wanted to use the preview or the viewfinder.  I literally started to panic.

When the day finally came, I decided the best approach was to be comfortable {i.e. jeans and a plaid shirt} and make sure I made them as comfortable as possible.  I remember how awkward my engagement shoot was.  Our photographer {a professional photographer} was a coworker of my husband and it was, truthfully, very uncomfortable for us to be super lovey dovey with each other in front of her.  We aren't fans of PDA to start with and now it had to be committed to film?!  Ugh, awkwaaaard. 

So, when I met up with my photography subjects, I gave them a little speech.  "Just so you know... this is going to feel uncomfortable.  I need you two to be romantic and lovey, almost like I'm not here... but I am here.  And you'll hear the camera taking the pictures.  It's awkward.  But the more you commit, the better the pictures will be.  And I want real smiles... not fake ones!"  Yeah!  Let's do this!

We get going with the photo shoot and my heart was pounding!  Ugh, this light isn't working.  Neither are these poses.  What if I don't come out with any good pictures?  I hope I have enough variety for them.   Is she still going to be my friend after this?  As you can see, I panicked.

Still, I pushed forward.  I was hard on them when their smiles were phony.  I gently requested they change positions when a stance wasn't flattering.  I had to keep reminding my friend to stop talking because open mouth pictures weren't good engagement photos.  ;)

We powered through for an hour.  Four outfit changes and three "location" changes {we were really in one park}... and we were done.  I was exhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaausted.  I said my goodbyes to them, got in my car, and took a big, deep breath.  That was that, I could only hope when I got home that there were usable photos.

I immediately plugged my camera into my computer when I got home and as I held my breath letting the 248 pictures load up to the computer, I said a little prayer that there would be ones she could use.

HALLELUJAH!  As I flipped through the pictures, I found a handful of pictures that were totally usable.  Not perfect, but they looked really good!  Even better, there were a few really hilarious outtake pictures that these two would love to have.   My husband looked over my shoulder and said, "These are really great, babe.  You did a great job."

Of course, I continued to hold my breath until I gave her the flash drive will all 248 pictures on them.  I wanted her to choose the pictures.  All of my fears and my worries melted away when her face was overcome with emotion - "These are great, Jen."

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.  Thank goodness!!!  The stress just melted away.

Looking back, I had a lot of fun but man, was that stressful!  I know a handful of really amazing professional photographers and I can only imagine that stress translates into adrenaline for them - but holy wow!  I have so much more respect for how they maintain their cool, creativity, energy and direction during and after photoshoots.  My friend even told me I looked exhausted at the end.  I simply was.  Don't get me wrong, I knew photography took a lot of skill, but I, admittedly, greatly underestimated how draining it could be.

So, while it was a great experience, I think I'm going to leave the personal photography to the professionals and I'll stick to photographing my crafts and the world around me.

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