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Question for full time pros and thoughts for those who are not
Old 10-27-2005, 11:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Ok, so I sit here O.D.ing on Theraflu and Nyquil because I caught one NASTY bug last week. That is probably the reason for all of these posts...lol.

Jim Lewchuk, Robert Sanders and I grabbed lunch at the Expo last week in NY (home of the nasty bug) and one of the things we discussed is something that has been on my mind for a while as I teach seminars. I would like to see if the rest of the full timers out there see this as much as I do.

The biggest thing holding back some very talented people from getting better or climbing the proverbial ladder is a real understanding of what it is like to shoot as a pro. Those struggling believe that the "big boys" always know what to do, or how to deal with any situation. The truth is that we figure it out as we go many times. That is all. We don't say "I can't do that. I don't know how." We say "Ok, how am I going to do that?"

So many talented photographers crawl back into their safety zone when challenges come. Hey, let's face it, it is easier for someone with little to no experience with studio lighting to say "I prefer available light" because they are intimidated or just lack that feeling of "surety" at first. If you say to someone new to studio lighting "How are you going to light this?" they will have that feeling of "Am I going to show my lack of knowledge with my answer?"

It seems to me that all pros are confronted with the "What the heck do I do now?" feeling from time to time. We just know that we will find our way through the problem. We won't back down or fail because, if we are shooting for a client, we just plain can't. We HAVE to find a way. Those shooting for their enjoyment or to improve a book will usually back into a safety zone.

Here is an example of what I am saying. When I was asked to shoot for this catalog I was told "We are going to shoot with a jet on a runway at the airport." Great! That's easy! Day of shoot....hurricane remnants pass through the city and I am told "We are going to shoot in a hangar instead."

Ummm....errrr....studio light a jet and balance it with the dress.

The common misconception, it seems to me, is that people just assume that pros know exactly what to do in every situation. The truth? My mind said "How the heck do I do this?" My mouth said "Ok, no problem." Keep in mind these images were bound for Teen Vogue and/or Cosmo Girl as well as a catlog so I couldn't "give it my best shot". I HAD to succeed.

To the pros, maybe I am crazy, or Therflud, but isn't this the moment that seperates those doing this for a living and those not? We just do it, and don't say "I can't. I don't know how." We don't get intimidated into NOT accomplishing something, simply because we can't let that happen.

Robert Sanders said it perfectly (as he tends to...bastard) when he said "We are problem solvers." I hope he chimes in and explains because his take was perfect! His take on that and the illusion of what we do were great.

My point to those growing as shooters is don't let your lack of confidence be your undoing. Take the approach that you WILL get the shot and don't settle or stop until you DO get it. Find a way. No excuses. You don't have the lights? Find a way anyway! You don't have the understanding of how to get a shot? Find a way. Don't back down from it. Don't run back to your comfort zone or accept less. Get what you set out to get. That is what we do as pros. We find a way.

I heard something that said it all to me at the Expo. A photographer that is nationally renowned, and is someonone we would all admit is "big time" turned to another shooter and said "What are those filters called that get darker as you turn them?" The other person answered "polaraizers". The question was asked by an INCREDIBLY talented, nationally renowned shooter. Polarizers!!!!!!!!!!!! He did not know POLARIZERS!!!! I tell ya what ...he knows how to shoot pictures! SO many people know every lens and every megapixel and every photoshop detail and color setting, but they can't function in the real world or take good images.

Polarizers!!!!!!!

Don't be intimidated that the big boys know everything. Get the shot. No excuses. You CAN do it if you just don't take no for an answer.

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Re: Question for full time pros and thoughts for those who are not
Old 10-27-2005, 11:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Good post. I would add that this applies just as well to any career. Often it's our own insecurity that keeps us from progressing forward. Have some confidence in your abilities and don't be afraid to take on something that will stretch your capabilities. Succesful people are the ones who are always pushing to do a little more with what they have.

Nice shot too. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
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Re: Question for full time pros and thoughts for those who are not
Old 10-27-2005, 12:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Rick, Great post! Although I don't make my living at photography I do suppliment it with my paid shoots. I think you are correct that the pros don't have the option to say "I can't do it" because the client is counting them to do a professional job and earn their pay. But I also think that may other photographers who don't do it for a living are frightened by failure and therefore slip back into their safety zone -- especiallly if there is money involved. It's a very natural human reaction. I've had jobs where I felt uneasy about the shoot and nervous that I would get nothing for the client that they liked, but in my other line of work failure is not an option so I carry it over to the photography and give it my best. And yes, my skills are no where near yours or many of the others on this forum, so I am forced to be creative and think of ways to do things I normally don't.

Your post brought to mind the commercial "We can do that, we can do that, we can do that, How're we going to do that?" It's all a matter of confidence, experience, trust in your abilities, and a little ego tossed in for kicks.

Again, I enjoyed your post -- nice insight into the attitude of a pro!

Thanks,
mark
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Re: Question for full time pros and thoughts for those who are not
Old 10-27-2005, 12:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You are absolutely right. A working pro gets an lucrative assignment, maybe his next month's mortgage payment, or maybe last month's, depends on his getting it right. We simply can't say no because we don't know how or don't have some special piece of hrdware. Don't have enough lights or the right lens? Rent them. Don't know how to light some special or unique situation, test, test again then test some more. That's why working pros used to go through cases of Polaroid film, now I suppose it's digital, which is easier. Can't get the lighting right, then find out how or hire a lighting assistant who knows how. Next time you'll know how. There are solutions to any and every problem, it's simply a question of motivation and next month's mortgage payment can be a great motivator.

Many years ago, a major client asked me to do some food shots for some upcoming ads. Now I was not a food photographer, that's a serious specialty in the commercial arena. I know=ew that if I said no or indicated I was not qualified, I might loose the client,so the solution was simple. I hired a photo stylist who was an expert in food prearation and design. We all made money and the client was happy.

BTW, that hanger shot is a perfect example of figuring it out and rendering it flawlessly.

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Re: Question for full time pros and thoughts for those who are not
Old 10-27-2005, 12:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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AMEN This post hits home for almost EVERY profession.

As I was putting myself thru College doing a number of different things (Computers, Photography, and Magic), I was asked one time about doing a Magic shoe in a certain building on the college campus. I at first thought to myself.. hmmmm.. can I do that??? Then I looked at the person and said.. Yep, I can not only do that, but I can make the "blank - blank" vanish as well.

Needless to say.. I then went into that problem solving mode and made it work.
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Re: Question for full time pros and thoughts for those who are not
Old 10-27-2005, 12:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
Robert Sanders said it perfectly (as he tends to...bastard) when he said "We are problem solvers."

[/ QUOTE ]

I thought you said that. Or was it, "I'm a people person with a camera."

Rick this is a great post. As most people know, if not the do now, I am not a glamour or fashion photographer full-time. I earn the majority of my living as a portrait and wedding photographer. Glamour and fashion is fun for me. It pays a few bucks and helps me pay the rent from time to time, but retail is my bread and butter.

This same philosophy and approach applies in what I do everyday. How many weird photo requests have I received at weddings? Too many to remember and I haven't been doing it that long!

I am pretty green when it comes to being a pro. But I've developed a network of friends that I can call for advice, if I can't figure it out myself. I learned really quick (trial by fire if you will), that I couldn't say no to a client, ever! Of course, I get asked to do things I don't know how to do less and less each day as I learn more. I will however not tell a client something is impossible.

I remember talking to a good friend about my insecurities in regards to certain assignments or what if scenarios and he said something that realy made an impact. "There's nothing wrong with learning on a job." I think that was you.

I can't to see what others say on this topic. Great post again!

Mike
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Re: Question for full time pros and thoughts for those who are not
Old 10-27-2005, 01:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Great photo!

Jennifer
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No one is going to die on the table...
Old 10-27-2005, 02:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have had so many conversations with photographers who act like their work is the alpha and omega, the dawn and the dusk, their photography is life itself... I am lucky if you might see my work at the Alpha Beta supermarket. Wait, they don't have that supermarket chain anymore! This isn't rocket science and it sure as heII isn't brain surgery, more like brain salad with a great dressing, and that is what keeps it all in perspective.

Awesome post Rick, it amazes me - like our conversation the other day less the condiments - that you invest such passion in the very content of our trade, not just in the photography. You, and some other people who know me, know that I am not the kind of photographer who says, "grab that wrap and go stand over there and lets shoot some snaps." I need feed, I need the challenge, the puzzle, the very motivation to stimulate the creative side... not that shooting impulsively is bad, not at all, in fact I envy those who do it so comfortably well. As a pro though thinking on my feet is what has to happen and it is what I enjoy most: The greater the danger or threat of not succeeding, the greater the motivation.

Something I love doing is going back over - reviewing - work I shot last year, the year before, in studio, location, for clients, for myself, whatever, and seeing all the things I would/could change to make those images better. I love looking at the work retrospectively to see both my growth and my failing... most of all, to see what I would do differently to address the same scenario or problem. Quick thinking is the virtue of the really successful impromptu shooter whereas some of us need to contemplate or cogitate the situation facing us. I feel, and this is just me mind you, when you look at your portfolio and see a lot of variations of the same photograph, it is time to stir the creative challenge pot. Apathy to the photographer can be doom, reaching new goals and frightening challenge levels is so important - this is why great workshops are so very important.

Nothing feels quite like the last really good photo I created... except the one I am about to challenge. Or about to challenge me. Being a pro is wonderful, I love what I do, but I envy the guy who doesn't have to rely on the imagination and creative patience to feed the bulldog. Or clothe the kids, or put food on the table. The ultimate challenge of the professional world are the clients themselves, nothing is more threatening nor frightening, more difficult, more disappointing. But that can be said about any profession. Getting the work continues to be a far greater difficulty than doing the work... marketing, now that is scary! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img]

Not sure if this adds to an already great post by you, but some of it is important I think. Great shot btw... and I agree with David, you need to do more of the stylized stuff!

Robert

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Re: Question for full time pros and thoughts for those who are not
Old 10-27-2005, 02:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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you just described my entire career, be it photography, videography, cinematography... editing or shooting tv spots, late-nite cable, trailers, adult, or other stuff.. get the gig then, if i didn't already know how, figure out how to pull it off.
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Re: Question for full time pros and thoughts for those who are not
Old 10-27-2005, 03:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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what makes a pro a pro is his consistency.

Many people know this, but they tend to forget its not being able to produce the same quality images over and over, but producing those same quality images while overcoming the obstacles that can come with them as you did with the hurricane variable on your jet.

We must remember to tell ourselves, there are no problems, just solutions waiting to be discovered.

JasonNJ
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