Shooting People

Back in 2009 when I was unemployed I spent a few hours each week hunting for a new job – most of the postings were for crappy factory jobs or low paying customer service gigs.  To make matters worse, 95% of them were through staffing agencies that take a cut of your pay.  Screw that!

After several months of searching (to no avail) I decided that I was going to start my own photography business.  I’d been shooting for as long as I could remember and surely I could parlay my hobby into full time employment.

My plan was to shoot people.  You know, weddings, babies, families, etc.  I scored my first referral within a few days of making the announcement that I was going into business.  The assignment was to shoot a large family, both individually and as a group.  I didn’t own a flash at the time so I went out and bought a brand new Canon 580EXII.  I had no clue how the damn thing worked but after farting around with it for a week I had a pretty good grasp on the controls and settings.

At the shoot, I simply aimed my flash straight up at the roof and when it bounced back everyone was blanketed in nice soft light.  The session went smoothly, my client was happy, and I felt pretty damn good about it!  A business was born.  Or was it?

My next shoot came a few weeks later.  It was another referral but this time to shoot a baptism.   I actually knew the client so I felt some added pressure to do a really good job.  At this shoot things were different, much different.  The roof in the church was about 60’ high and I couldn’t get that nice soft light bouncing back like the previous shoot.  Dammit, Now what?  I decided to start aiming the flash directly at my subjects – this created nasty highlights and ugly shadows.  A little panicked, I fiddled with the ISO and aperture hoping to massage a decent looking photo but they all looked awful.  After the shoot I loaded the photos onto the computer and did my best to rescue them.  The white balance, exposure and composition were all over the place.  I was inexperienced under pressure and it showed.

I processed the photos the best that I could and delivered them gratis.  I felt upset that I didn’t capture a perfect set of photos during this once-in-a-lifetime moment and decided that I’m not shooting people anymore.

A lot has happened since then…  I’m now running a successful interior and architectural photography business and consider myself to be an expert (well almost) at using off camera flash.  Over the years I’ve invested a ton of time tinkering and honing my skills so when I was approached recently to shoot a large social media head shot session I jumped at the opportunity.

The photos turned out great and I had a lot of fun shooting them.  My client was also extremely pleased and I’ve already booked two more sessions in March.

I guess I’m shooting people again…



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