Saturday, 18 May 2013

Keep Your Head On.

Instead of completing three different photo essays over the course of the year, we were told that we would instead be assigned to cover one of the opening nights of the Head On Photo Festival. 

From my perspective, this was a good thing. Not only was it getting us away from the dull briefs that we had been fulfilling since the beginning of our first year, but it was also giving us experience and throwing us head first into the industry. A real job in place of three ideas presented to us by our teachers - it sounded like a good idea to me. 

It didn't hurt that I felt I was on top of things. Since I shoot concerts, I'm no stranger to low light situations where your subject never stands still. I thought I had a pretty good idea about how to handle low light. If anything, shooting the open night should have been easy - the light would be unchanging and much more concert than the spotlights you get on a stage. 

But last night was nothing like I expected. 

I think I covered the three briefs I was given well enough, but I still feel like the night was a failure to me personally. 

Shooting shows is easy - you get there, and you know that your subject is up there on the stage. You don't need to know names; you don't even need to know faces. You don't need to speak to anybody - you just need to shoot.

But last night was nothing like that. I knew it was going to be a little more difficult going in - that I was actually going to need to speak to people and find things out - but I was nowhere near as prepared as I thought I was. And I'll be damned if my old timid tendencies didn't come back right at the moment that I needed them the least. 

When I got there, I spoke to the three people who were sitting at the front desk and did what I was supposed to - introduced myself, explained that I was shooting and asked if there was anybody I should know. They weren't entirely sure themselves, but they did describe what the Head On representative looked like. Her brightly coloured shoes would be hard to miss. 

After that, the little bit of confidence that I'd managed to scrounge up before walking in pretty much vanished. I took some shots of people, some long exposures, some detail shots, but eventually I started to panic a little. I felt that I didn't know what I was doing. I felt that I wasn't doing things right. 

But as the night progressed, things got better. My confidence started coming back. My shots started getting better. I grew more comfortable in my surroundings and took the shots that I thought I would need in order to fill my briefs. And then I let the gig photographer in me take over and just took photos of whatever took my fancy. 

Overall, the night wasn't a huge success. I screwed up a lot, but the important thing is that I know. So next time I can do better. 

And I have to keep reminding myself that it could also have been a whole lot worse. Being at the main opening, and at the TAFE of all places, I had classmates and teachers all around me, helping me out and encouraging me every step of the way. They, along with my best friend, are probably the main reason that I finished the night feeling more like a professional as opposed to the lost child I had felt like when the night began. 

But from this event, I can also say that I know for certain I'm not a huge fan of these sorts of jobs. I'll stick to concerts, and to weddings. Because in a way, those two things are similar - you go in knowing exactly what shots you need to get, who your main subjects are, and the lighting is unpredictable. 

That makes me sound crazy, but I suppose we like what we like. 

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