What everyone should know about being a photographer

Fashion photographyPicture this … you’re at a wedding, photographing a beautiful bride as she walks down the aisle, when suddenly your camera fails!  All the excitement of the day comes crashing down around you, you feel like you’re in one of those nightmares, where you can’t move and everything’s happening in slow motion.

Back when I was photographing weddings, I found people seemed to get emotional when I told them what I did for a job.  They’d say things like ‘that sounds so exciting!’.

No-one mentions the fact that, unlike many professions, your success rate needs to be close to 100%.  There are simply no excuses for missing a must-have shot at a wedding, so while redundancies are a must, there’s no escaping that feeling in the back of your mind that something could go awfully wrong at any moment.

Here are a few things worth knowing:

  • Carrying heavy bags and equipment helps to keep you fit.  You know you’re doing really well when you can outsource this exercise to your assistant, who’s often younger and fitter.
  • Photographing outside in all conditions allows you to experience the full force of nature.  You always get enough Vitamin D in summer, as you burn and swelter, and in winter you can practice avoiding camera shake as you shiver.
  • You get to spend quality time on clients’ floors photographing children or pets. If you’re lucky, you might get a lick on the lens by a dog, ensuring your opinion of yourself remains humble.
  • Getting up way too early for a fashion shoot keeps you focused on the important things – will you have enough time to get your coffee?
  • Hearing ‘you can just Photoshop that, can’t you?’ fills you with dread, as you realise, if you say yes, you could be spending hours editing just one photo!
  • Thinking about what piece of equipment might fail helps keep your nervous system alert and encourages creative thinking.
  • You find yourself getting to know every image intimately, as you spend much more time retouching than photographing.
  • You spend your hard earned money on the latest camera only to discover your client already had that camera months ago!

So, next time you hear someone talking about how wonderful it would be to be a photographer, spare a thought for the rest of us, those of us in the real world, you know – the experienced retouchers who photograph people on the side.