Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mission accomplished

When I first accepted this photography assignment I kept thinking how lucky I was to be getting paid for something that I love doing so much. Well after all the stress I've been under this week, I don't think they paid me enough! I still loved taking the photos, but I've literally been a nervous wreck 24/7 since I got the job last Friday.

Yesterday I had to shoot the employee photos and the cover shot. The big boss man was coming at about 5pm, but I was so nervous about it that I showed up at about 2:45 to do some set up and some test shots to make sure I had everything perfect. I brought Shawn along and he was my assistant and my stand in for the photos.

One of the reasons I tend not to do a lot of portrait photography is because lighting is not my friend! If I had a studio set up with consistent lighting, where I could keep my studio lights in the same place, it would be fine, because I'd always be shooting in the same lighting conditions. But on location portraits where you never know what the lighting situation is going to be stresses me out, mostly just because I don't do it very often. I love still life and art photography where I can play with it as much as I want and take my time to be creative, but portraits have to be done quickly and really require you to think of your feet since every situation is different. It's a lot of pressure, and not the type of photography I'm used to. I CAN do it, I just don't do it as often, so I'm not as comfortable with it. It doesn't come as easy to me as shooting fine art shots and nature photography, which I've had years of of practice with.

The magazine is going to do some serious photoshop work on the cover anyway, so all I had to do was shoot the boss with a plain background so that they can photoshop it out. They have a specific theme planned for the cover, so I had to have him posed in a certain way so that when they photoshop it, he'll be in the right position. Easy enough, right?

First of all, the lighting in the building was complicated. The main part of the store has big windows and and multicolored mood lighting, and without doing a really complicated studio set up, that wasn't a good place to shoot. Then I tried the install bay, which is just a big garage, and the lighting was at least more even, but still not great. Then they mentioned that they have an unused basement there, so I tried some rooms down there for a bit, with no luck. I kept shooting Shawn to see how it was going to look and I wasn't really happy with any of the photos.

Finally I decided that the best place to take them was back up in the install bay. The problem was that I needed an open space to put my backdrop and there wasn't really a good spot. I finally found a spot that would basically work and I got some decent shots of Shawn, but the one big problem was all the overhead lighting putting huge light spots in Shawn's glasses. My only saving grace was going to be if the owner didn't have glasses. I asked someone if he did, and OF COURSE, he does. Crap.

So by then it was almost 5:00 and I was totally panicking. I wasn't happy with the lighting, I had no idea how I was going to overcome light in his glasses, unless I had him tilt his head at a ridiculous angle, and I was ready to have a nervous breakdown. Then the boss got in there, and I don't know if he has magical glasses or what, but that mans glasses don't show even one single light reflection in them. Not at all. It was almost like there was no glass in them. Freaky. I'm pretty sure that I want to track down his optometrist and kiss him.

So I got him posed correctly and I got the shot done. The guy was really friendly and cooperative and everything went fine. The pictures are not my favorite photos that I've ever taken, but they don't suck and I think they're going to work just fine for the cover. I'm sure the guy had no idea that five minutes before he got there I was having a total nervous breakdown, lol.

Then I did the employee shot. I asked them a couple of days ago if they could bring in a really cool car to be shot with, and BOY did they deliver!!! The have a customer with a Cadillac Escalade that is completely customized and BEAUTIFUL. It has SEVEN TV's in it, for Heavens sake! It was perfectly shiny and beautiful and made a really amazing background for the photos. Those turned out good, I'm happy with them.

All in all the whole thing went fine. They're not the photos I'm the very most proud of in my career, but they turned out fine, I think the magazine is going to be happy with them and frankly, at this point I'm just happy to be done! This type of photography is not my specialty, so I really had to stretch myself to get it accomplished. I learned a lot if I ever have to do something like this again, but hopefully I don't have to do it again for a while, because after this little adventure I'm sending my brain on vacation for a while.

I love shooting nature shots, still life shots and fun artistic shots when I'm on my own schedule and I only have to work with my own creative vision. I can spend days taking photos of the same flowers or the same bird feeder and never get bored of it. But assignment photography is a whole other thing. I still loved taking the photos, but being on a deadline and having to shoot someone else's ideas took a little bit of the fun out of it for me. Maybe just because it was my first time though, and I really second guessed myself too much. I was way outside my comfort zone and generally that's a place I don't like to be. I proved to myself that I can pull it off though, so I gained some confidence in the process.

But stress or not, it was actually a really fun adventure and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it. I don't want to make it sound like it was a horrible experience, because it definitely wasn't. It forced me to think outside the box, try some new techniques and trust in my abilities a little more. I like to play it safe and stick with the things I'm familiar and comfortable with, but this was a good opportunity for me to try something new and prove to myself that I could do it and that stepping outside my comfort zone wasn't going to kill me after all.

Yay for me. :)

No comments: