In the early days of doing photos, the budget was tight, the options for hiring help was worse than zero. So, of course, what one does is lean a bit on friends. Before the lean, one has to chat with friends and find out what they’re up to and if they’re willing to help you out. As a young eager photographer, I needed all the help I could get and the free variety preferred.
It is then that I discovered that several friends of mine shared the same aversion to being photographed that I do. Yes, I don’t enjoy being photographed just like most don’t like to speak in public. Over time, I did get over that discomfort enough that I don’t make a deal about it anymore. But I still avoid being photographed if I can help it. This from the guy who has photographed many people and events over the years.
Sitting with one of my friends, who would eventually become one of my biggest supporters, I presented my plans and case hoping to get a quick yes. Little did I know that I was touching a nerve that had been hidden for quite some time. She was painfully camera shy. There were many reasons for this and I was not sure how to uncover them all let alone know if I should. My friend explained to me why she was very hesitant. Her reasons made perfect sense to me. However, being that I didn’t see what she saw, I weighed hard the decision to press forward or not.
After some quiet moments in the conversation, the brilliant idea came to mind to have my work prove itself first. Ok, there was no work to talk about really. This was my early days. I had no prayer of showcasing anything brilliant. I was depending on my friends to give of their time so that I can build something in the future. I had to get the skills. So, the only way to prove anything, I offered to let her pick the location of the first shoot, invite as many friends and acquaintances as she needed to feel comfortable. Then, after she saw my work ethics in play, she’d be able to assess if she’d step in front of my camera or not. I even said that I’d go to great lengths to hide her identity if need be. Then, had no clue how I would deliver that either.
I knew one thing, I was pretty active online learning from many professional photographer who joined forums to share their tips and tricks. I figured I could learn what I needed to learn there for free and then apply it on the shoot. I didn’t mention that in the initial conversation of course, I just needed to nail a yes.
My friend thought long and hard. I thought the answer would be no in the end. She then cautiously said she’d do it if I not only managed to convince a few of her friends but a few of her church folks too. That was a very tall order. I know I could get the church folks on my side, but her friends, I didn’t know them that well or at all. This would be a challenge worth taking. If it worked out, I’d have more models to work with than I ever dreamed. If it failed, my aspirations would have hit a hard roadblock
Little did I know at the time that this would be the starting point of a long career of doing photos that now is leading into a blog and will hopefully give me more photography options in the future. I had no idea that many of the photos that would come over the years would prove both popular online, but also give me the tools I would need to assert myself as a photographer and close deals I wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to do.
By the time the big day arrived, my nerves were a bit unsteady. I was out of my league. The event was not ideal for taking photos, the lighting was not great at all, and my editing skills were non-existent. The other friends were quite reluctant and not sure what they were getting into. Having limited equipment, I looked more like an eager guy with a small camera just trying to get a bunch of gals to model for his personal entertainment. I still made my pitch and went for it. I knew enough to know that a lot of the negative thinking going in my head was generated by my anxieties and fears. I later would find out that no one thought so negatively about me and my project. In fact, several times I was asked when the site would come up and become a reality. A decade later, here I am working on the site finally lol
The single most salient point that struck me from this shoot and has stuck with me is how clouded a lens my friend used to assess her beauty. While there is not much I want to comment about how that came to be, like many, she feels she’s not model material and is much happier not being photographed at all. This resonates with me in that I often feel I have nothing to offer the blogging world. I view myself through a clouded lens. I think I’m not as deserving or as capable as I really am. Too often, I give in to the feelings and avoid doing things that are great and awesome.
Looking back on this shoot, I can’t help but ask myself how many things I’ve passed on that would have been great if I only had tried. Had I just tried, by now I would have gotten the skills, the opportunity, the chance, etc. We all live with that inner critic who doesn’t see things as clearly as others do. And when that inner critique gets a chance, he/she robs you the chance to excel in a new area of life.
Just like back then, I faced my fears and went for it, I’m doing it again. You see, in ten years, I went from a rookie amateur who should have dared to have models giving their time to one who has done many weddings, many events, and is daring to dream even bigger. Many overnight successes took ten years to become what they are. I’m not saying I’m one of those, but that saying means a lot more to me seeing where I am today as a photographer and now writer.
Looking at where my friends are today, I can’t help but smile. They took the time to work on their craft and their passions and they’ve blossomed. Some have cleared up their lens and see their craft and nurture it. Others still have that clouded lens and still need a push to see things better.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, I have to keep reminding myself. It just has to be started and kept going. Perfection comes with time.. Or so I like to believe. Daily work towards the dream is the way to go instead of waiting until you miraculously are perfectly suited to go after the dream.
I’d like to thank all the friends who gave so generously of their time to help me become better. All the phone calls, the plans, the modeling, the hours, the standing in place for ever as I figure out my camera, the hours of watching me trying to sort out my own thoughts and gear.