I’ve sat here for 15 minutes with absolutely NO idea what to write for you all. None.
I’ve gotten up, gone to my garden and smoked a cigarette. Sat down. Stared at the screen. Gotten back up. Smoked. Sat back down.
Then it struck me! Just go and write it.
Don’t think, do!
I’m fortunate enough to be in the position to have been asked to make a contribution to Scott’s site as as Guest Blogger, so I’m just going to WRITE IT!
And it’s going to be about exactly that principal in relation to photography. The principal of NOT planning, not getting tied up in details, not sweating the small stuff. The principal that sometimes, you just gotta throw your shoulders back, lift your chin, walk in the room with a smile and freaking shoot the thing! :)
I’ve found myself taking this approach increasingly this year. Having spent so many hours in the run up to previous shoots trying to pre-empt the un-pre-emptable, trying to predict how someone’s going to behave, how they’ll respond to the concept, to me, to the location or whatever. I’ve learned that I’ve been in SO MANY rooms with SO MANY different people and I’ve walked out with a picture that there is a great lesson to be learned from all of those shots.
Some of my best pictures, award winners, covers, exhibited works, have come from an idea COMPLETELY off plan and it was only through an ability to be flexible, to go with a different flow, that I’ve been fortunate enough to capture them. Now this isn’t a boast here. I’m not saying that this is a measure of some photographic zen quality. This isn’t even about ME, this is about all of us. In fact below are some examples of work which has come ‘off the cuff.’ What I’m trying to impart is that they are not the result of ANY photographic skill. They are simply in existance becauseIi was FLEXIBLE!. We are all flexible to some degree! We couldn’t cross a main street otherwise, and if we can build on that…ability, it can help enhance our work. Regardless of our lighting kit or our megapixel count.
A GREAT example!:
Last year I was commissioned to shoot Pete Doherty. My client had a PLAN! A detailed one! Now Pete has had his problems and they’re well documented. So when my client tried to brief me on exactly what they wanted I knew I had to just zone out, make ‘yes, yes’ noises and relax in the knowledge that if Mr D actually arrived at the shoot, and as long as I could connect with him and use the lighting skills that I have, we would make it work.
NOTHING went to plan :)
He did arrive and we did connect (I still have the Union Jack neck scarf he gave me permanently around the head of my tripod) and the resulting set of pictures have won enough stuff and been hung in galleries in London. If I had worried about the ‘plan’ we would have probably not shot a thing.
With the same mindset I recently shot for a blue chip corporate client: VODAFONE. The brief moved two or three times in pre-production, the deadline was incredibly tight for post production and the talent list was Florence of Florence And The Machine, F1 superstar Jenson Button and supermodel and actress Lily Cole. The call time was 6am, Jenson was flying in from Montreal having come 2nd in the Canadian Grand Prix and he would be with us for ‘1 HOUR EXACTLY.’ We would have all three together for 20 minutes. The brief moved again :). The deadline got tighter and ‘Did I think everything would be okay?’ :)
Now at this point I had to just remind myself that the job was Lily, Jenson and Florence TOGETHER and the fact was that, again, if they all turned up and if I connected with them then really, with such huge names, it would shoot itself. There was simply no point worrying about what COULD go wrong because if something DID go wrong (ie Jenson’s flight) we would just have to DEAL with it somehow.
“It’s all going to be fine,” I assured my client. Picture below :)
And when it does go wrong? Like when you’re commissioned to shoot a TV personality with a leopard and the day before the shoot a volcano erupts in Iceland meaning that you arrive at the studio to find you have a leopard…and no TV personality?
Well, you shoot the leopard…and shoot the personality two weeks later :):
So now I’m thinking…’This applies to everything I do…or at least I should APPLY it to everything I do!’
How many hours have I sat around OVER THINKING what I should do next only to find that when I have to act, I act positively!? More importantly, how many hours have YOU sat around pondering “What shall I shoot?…How will I contact that magazine?…How should I light this? only to find that when you PUT yourself in front of the subject you wanted to shoot, YOU DID FINE!
Okay you could have improved something by doing this or changing that, but that’s called ‘experience,’ and you’ve learned from it, and it’ll be better the next time BECAUSE you put yourself in the situation in the FIRST place :)
What I’m saying is let’s all STOP trying to work out how to ‘get that client’ and ‘what if my portfolio appointment goes flat’ and ‘how can I light this or that’ or ‘would it be better if I had x camera?’ and let’s just get on with DOING this great, weird, difficult, delightful thing that is photography. Let’s go to places people only dream of, meet people who have inspired and outraged and shocked and entertained us, let’s just capture moments that will never ever ever EVER happen again. Let’s see what happens if we ‘open up a stop’ or ‘turn that head off’ and if we do, if we just throw our shoulders back, lift our chins, walk in the room with a smile and just shoot the freaking thing! I really believe that all the rest of it, will look after itself.
Thanks to Scott and Brad for letting me write this and many many thanks to you for taking
the time to read it!