With a subject/subjects in front of you you need nerves of steel or at least the ability to give the impression of nerves of steel. It’s all too easy to assume that a photographer just points and clicks but have a look at the gazillions of web pages dedicated to photography and you have an idea of the intricacies involved. Of course, your photographer will be experienced and professional enough to have you believe he/she is simply pointing and clicking and they would never ask you to spare a thought for the knots in their gut as they go about their work.
Everything and anything can make you nervous but this is me and this is my phoblog so I’m focussing (get it?) on photography. The reason I mention nerves is that I wanted to share a short summary of my first professional job as a photographer. There are a few definitions of what makes a professional so for me I chose to think of myself as a professional the first time I was paid for a job. It was an 80th birthday party and I was the back up guy as the original photographer cancelled at the last minute, my first mistake was not checking out the venue first and just turning up on the night, if I wondered why the first guy cancelled I soon found out, in the words of Ben Kenobi “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”. The venue (I won’t name it) staff decided a photographer was not worthy of civility and I was instructed to wait outside until the party guests arrived, at the time my equipment was few but expensive nonetheless and the looks of ‘how much is THAT worth?’ from the passing off licence customers only made me wrap my bag strap tighter round my leg as I attempted the nonchalant look. The party soon started and to be fair the paying customer was very nice and we were able to discuss the feel of how the night should go and I requested payment before I got started, there weren’t a lot of posed shots requested but they happened on a kind of ad hoc basis which suited me as I was still panicking slightly at the thought of being paid for my ‘hobby’. Let’s get one thing straight, this ends in disaster but as a testament to the professionalism I have learned in other work no one even knew the disaster was taking place right before their eyes. So my first hurdle was when a party couple plonked their toddler in front of me and ordered me to take pictures of him. On the floor. In a pub. A dark pub. With disco lights. “Aye mate, here’s ur perfect pictures of ur wean”, I didn’t say. So it went on similar to, but thankfully not worse, than that. My time was from 7-10pm and as the end neared I was approached and asked if I could stay till the birthday girl had cut the cake, of course I could, no problem. By 20 past 10 the cake was still nowhere near being cut but I remained composed, a tap on the shoulder was a request from one of the party couples for a nice portrait shot for their album, so I posed them, got ready to shoot, clicked the camera and nothing happened, clicked again, nothing. I had read up on the basic rookie mistakes, one of which was not having a spare battery so I made sure I had 5 spare batteries, changed the battery, nothing happened. The camera had just died, I thought my insides were going to make a guest appearance and for a small moment I considered getting my iPhone out to finish off the last few shots and the impending cake cut. I was panicking inside but managed to hide it and my only get out clause was the fact I was already over my time so I took a stand and informed my customer that I could wait no longer on the cake cut and it wasn’t my fault they had taken so long to get to it. I packed up as quickly as I could because I could see they were scurrying to try and get the cake cut ready and I bolted out the door. On hindsight it was a good learning curve, If I want to be a professional I need to experience the bad with the good.
The camera was, in fact, dead and needed to be replaced so at least I can take comfort knowing there was nothing could do and the thought of the same thing happening when I eventually moved up to weddings was horrible so soon after I invested in a back up camera.
Thankfully, I’ve not experienced anything to curb my enthusiasm for photography and as the time goes on I’m still learning and still loving it.
thats another phoblog out the way, until next time.