I recently had a conversation with a budding photographer. He is quite good and has produced some great shots. However he expressed that he was quite nervous when asked to do a photograph for someone or an event. I asked if these were paying clients and he said no, but still had the pressure of failing and worried about not delivering on his ideas and wasting their time. I told him not to worry because it wasn’t a paid engagement, but that didn’t assuage his fears.
I know another photographer who hardly picks up his camera because he is worried about bad results.
I can empathize with these feelings because I have had to deal with this myself. However I know that the only way to get over this is to just smile, pretend you are relaxed and just start. But here are a couple ideas that might help.
1) know that many photographers are nervous about shoots. If you are nervous it means you are trying something new – and that’s good. If you are challenging yourself then there is always a possibility that it will not work. The experienced of us have had to face this and recover. This means just being flexible if the situation is not going the way you want. Therefore you need to shoot a lot to develop the experience to adapt to the unexpected. Repetition is the best way to understand light and composition and how your camera and lenses behave.
2) Shoot a lot. This is a follow on to the above. More shooting means more good images and that builds confidence. Practice, Practice, Practice.
3-a) It’s not the last chance to shoot. Each shoot is important, but there will be lots more opportunities, and someone has to be the subject while you are gaining experience. We have all been there, and even the best of tell stories about some of their early experiences and on shoot.
3-b) It’s not the last chance to shoot. You dont need to squeeze every idea into this shoot. Being too ambitious puts a lot of pressure on you. Scale back the ideas and save some for next time.
4) Prepare some standard shots. Have some go to shots done first, then try out the new stuff, that way if the creative new stuff does not work there is something to show.
5) Underpromise and over deliver. Don’t set expectations for shots like Mario Testino, just say in simple terms what you hope for. Communicate your ideas as best as possible. I know that can be hard but it is worth the effort. That way everyone knows what to expect and is part of the project. If it works or doesn’t then it is a joint attempt and chances are if everyone is clear then they will be game to try again.
6) Think of this as a learning experience and be prepared to try again. If it doesn’t work the first time then think about what went wrong and how you can do better the next time, That is it he only way to learn.
7) Don’t worry about your gear. There is more gear around than anyone can use, and you dont need it all. Just learn how to use what you have. More gear can just be more confusing.
8) Don’t criticize yourself to your subject. This may seem obvious, but I have done this before. After my first shoot was done and I delivered the images (they were free), I decided to get in front of the situation and let them I know that I was aware of some flaws. My idea was to make it easier for them to express any areas of concerns. However, I realized that they were happy with the shots and that by pointing out problems I made them self concious about them. These were photographer problems, not client problems. So realize that we are more critical of ourselves.
9) Shoot what you want the way you want to. You cant be that other photographer and you dont need to be. trust me originality comes from being yourself. It is hard when we are surrounded by awesome images. But trust your taste and style.
I’m sure that there is more. I welcome any additional comments or suggestions for relaxing before a shoot.