I got to thinking about all those Olympians, striving for perfection in their own field of excellence, is ‘perfection’ achievable? Take Jess Ennis for example. 7 gruelling events. Is she perfect in any of them? No, of course not. But she’s very good in all, better in some than others. She must have a favourite discipline though, one that she always excels at. Her bread & butter guaranteed points winner. All that said it doesn’t stop her trying to attain perfection in all of her chosen disciplines. Training hard week in, week out, getting better & better. Usain Bolt, arguably the best sprinter to ever grace the sports track even said, after winning his second gold medal of the 2012 Olympics, he “wasn’t happy as he could have run faster if the conditions were better.” All that said he was able to make the best of what was on offer at the time.
It was then that I had my ‘light bulb moment’. I realised that I was like an Olympian! Yes, me! I’m a ‘Photographic Olympian’. I’m not perfect in any discipline, but I do my very best in all. I’m always striving to achieve perfection, pushing myself creatively and technically with every shoot. Sometimes I get close to how I perceive perfection to be, depending on whom or what I’m photographing at the time. When that happens, I’m pleased obviously. But after a while I think “right, how can I improve on that?” The second part, my ‘Usain Bolt’, is although I can be unhappy with the weather or other things out of my control, I make the best of what has been given to me at the time. It’s raining – move indoors. A ‘poor’ location? Usually a turn to the left or right usually improves the shot. The list goes on.
So, thinking along those lines and using the same analogy, I realised I trained like an Olympian too! For instance, when booked to photograph a wedding, especially one somewhere I’ve never been before, I recce the venue, as I’m sure all good pro’s do of course. That is my ‘training’ – looking for the best images, taking test shots to see if they would work in practice and match the picture I have in my minds eye. Meeting the couple for the first time is also a ‘training session’ for me. Not only is it a meet & greet, or business meeting, it’s also a chance to gauge the client’s personality. I try and draw out their best characteristics, likes, dislikes etc. With all this information I can merge both sessions of training and come up with my action plan, my ‘tactics for the race ahead’. It’s the same routine for any shoot be it a wedding, portrait sitting, or pet portrait shoot. The ultimate goal in any shoot is a ‘gold medal’. On the day the nerves kick in. Not in a bad way, but in a good, exciting way, anticipating the ‘race ahead’. It’s my cue for some last minute ‘training’. Check the weather, check my gear, timings, etc. etc. Then it’s out onto the track. (The client’s house, studio, location etc.) Then it’s under starters orders and “BANG!” we’re off! Doing the best I can, striving for the best possible on the day, putting my action plan into practice.After all this comes the medal ceremony. I at least need to be ‘placed’, but a gold is what I’m after. That comes when I see the reaction on the client’s face upon seeing the proofs. Then it’s all over, back to normal --- until next time.
Always training, always striving for perfection.