I was recently contacted by the Paul Mellon centre to commission me to take a photo of the George Villiers statue in Portsmouth cathedral. Whilst I've taken photos of statues and still life subjects before I've always approached the subject with more of an artists eye rather than reproducing the subject exactly as it is for inclusion in a printed book.
Whilst the shoot itself was fairly straight forward - I had already arranged in advance with the Cathedral when I would be there so access wasn't an issue - it did get me thinking about the different types of photography I carry out these days.
The challenge with this shot was to get as much detail as possible, every part of the monument in focus and as noise free an image as possible. Whilst that's pretty much the case with every photo I take - be it a commission piece, a gig, a wedding or a portrait - there's usually a bit of latitude. For example, when I'm shooting at a gig with low-light and fast action on stage with my cameras settings maxed out, I'll let a tiny bit of missed focus or motion blur slide. With a portrait session, you can adjust your lighting and position to get the desired results.
To be honest, I was feeling a bit nervous about this shot - straightforward as it was. What if the client didn't like the image? What if my memory card failed mysteriously between taking the image and importing it into Adobe Lightroom? What if I'd missed some crucial detail?
These are the same niggling anxieties that strike me whenever I'm shooting for a paying client,especially a portrait. Did I capture their personality? Did I get the look they wanted? Were they happy and comfortable during the shoot? In this case nothing went wrong, the client was happy with the image I delivered and I can't wait to see my photo in the book once it's published.
I love photography and it's something I find endlessly fascinating, there's always something new to learn. A new technique to master. A new solution to a problem to find. I think the worries I talked about earlier are a necessary part of the process. When there's an aspect of photography I'm not sure about, I'll practice it until I'm confident and in turn I become a better photographer.
Whenever I'm taking photos, I'm happy. Whether it's for a paying client where there's a expectation of the quality I'll need to deliver or taking photos for fun when the only person who'll be disappointed would be myself. I count myself extremely fortunate to be able to do the thing I love for a living.
How do you deal with your anxiety's when shooting? Do you prep yourself before a shoot like you would prep your equipment?