I have an anxious personality and at any minute I expect the wheels to fly off any project I touch.

And today is no different.  I'm trying to sort out playing HD video/slideshows on a system that's totally composite.  The deadline is, of course, tomorrow.  We'll just have an audience of 400 we're supposed to impress.  I know a little about the production end and if all the TV monitors we're aiming at are interconnected thru a composite hub then we'll be showing programming at 480i.  The best we can hope for is the gentle buffer of viewing distance.

With a few thousand dollars and some more time we could re-wire everything to hub to HDMI or CAT-5 but it's not my system, it's embedded in a club/restaurant and reality checking tells me that part isn't going to change.  But it doesn't stop me from worrying about it.  Not at all.  You know, butterflies in the stomach and what not.

I'd love to run the programming off my laptop and that's what usually gets done at bigger corporate shows.  I just can't let it go.  I know I'll be up at 3 am researching all of this for the second or third time.  But the outcome won't change.

In an hour my friend and swim buddy, Rip, is coming by to be photographed.  He wrote a cookbook called, The Engine Two Diet, (wildly popular)  and we're doing some photography for a related project.  He's a vegan and will probably be arriving with an entourage and a couple hundred pounds of great looking fruits and vegetables from Whole Foods.  We don't have a comp or a brief or a layout so we're just going to wing it.  That also makes me nervous.  You see, I like to have everything nailed down before we start.  Lighting design in place, prop tables ready.  I've cleaned up and set up the lights I think we're going to use.  I've charged the camera batteries and tethered the camera to a laptop.  Not much more I can do on that one.

I don't know about you guys (speaking to fellow photographers of all stripes) but I get nervous the night before every shoot.  It dissipates when we pull up the first image on a screen and the art director goes, "Ahhhh."  But the feeling is there right up until that moment.  I'll tell you one thing though.....when you are nervous about every shoot you rarely leave stuff to chance.  I'll have three options ready to go for the presentation tomorrow and two back up laptops just in case.

I have extra power packs, modifiers and cameras standing by today.  Perhaps what makes us better professional photographers is the fear......

That's a sad thought.  But one that might be especially true nowadays when the prospect of losing a client or losing a project is fraught with a greater sense of calamity.  Perhaps when the economy straightens out it will be different.  But it never was before.

All this is a public rumination about why my personal work is so important to me.  It's unencumbered by this kind of stress.  No expectations.  No driving intentions.  Just the pleasure of looking and finding and snapping.  The anti-job.

I hope your job doesn't come with the same kind of endless deadlines, third party dependence and logistical trepidation.  If it does then I hope you are paid well.

It's the ambiguity and uncertainty that will kill you.


Don said...

"Perhaps what makes us better professional photographers is the fear......"

Oh hell yeah. But it goes farther than just fear. It is a need to be right, a need to be in control and a special obligation to our clients to be perfect... or as close to perfect as we can be.

I get those little butterflies at every shoot, at every starting moment of the design process and at every client meeting where something big is on the table.

I do think that without it, the business would take its toll and we would find ourselves a little short for it.

That 'tingle' in the gut is our strength. It is what we have that forces the excellence and creates the solution.

Without it, we would be dead.

kirk tuck said...


Bill Beebe said...

I hope your job doesn't come with the same kind of endless deadlines, third party dependence and logistical trepidation. If it does then I hope you are paid well.

I'm in essence a contract engineer working various DoD projects. As a consequence my job does, and, I suppose, I am.

Don Harper said...

Joe McNally was talking about that fear, that the client will realize the emperor has no cloths. That someone will realize you are a total fraud, but than you pick up that camera and it happens.
I think it has to do with our looking for acceptance and recognition with our images and that fear that we won't feel that inspiration when needed. Writers talk about writer's block but I guess we don't have that luxury of self-indulgence.
Clients pay my bills but it's not the money that motivates me, it's the chance to create something I hope will endure. The money is only one of the tools I need to achieve that goal and clients accepting my work provides that monetary tool allowing me to try new concepts and projects. But, I look for more than that individual's acceptance. I'm like a hunter looking for that next exciting image and hoping I'm ready by paying my dues and having that camera ready. It always works out at each assignment and on to the next, always looking.

Don Harper

Dave Elfering Photography said...

Maybe I'm a type A person but if it's not worth getting nervous about then its not worth doing. My problem is not getting so amped up that it creates errors in my execution. When I start shooting it's like the rest of the world melts away and I'm in a tunnel. That's why taking care of details up front is so essential and perhaps the nervous energy in the days leading up to an event. Every second spent stepping back out of the intense creativity focus during execution is an opportunity to not get back in. In my day job part of my task as a manager is to take care of details so that my people can focus on what they do. As a standalone photographer who has to deliver a product, we have to do that ourselves - and pulling it off is incredibly rewarding.

Frank Grygier said...

Render the project to the target resolution

kirk tuck said...

Frank, Thanks. I just took your advice and burned disks for each conceivable application. I have a small box full. We'll be covered. I'm sure.

Frank Grygier said...

It is exciting stepping over the cliff and trying to find the rope before you hit the ground.

kirk tuck said...

So, I'm at the venue and I've just met with the AV guy. We're working full tilt on getting everything set up but I have about a half hour of downtown before we can do our first video test. Fingers crossed that I have what I need.

Anonymous said...

When I shot professionally, Murphy and his law were always right around the corner. I always carried 2 of everything, and even then sometimes it wasn't enough (reminds me of the time we rented 2 RZ67's, both which failed within half hour of each other). You could never let your guard down, because that was when things went wrong, usually wildly wrong. And that's when the "pro" kicks in--as in pro-blem solving. The fear, together with the excitement and adrenaline, made for memorable times.

Thanks for the good read.

Bold Photography said...

When Murphy shows up at a shoot I'm doing, I can turn into a real diva... eat your heart out Aretha...

I think the fear is what keeps you sharp... someone once said to a hero - weren't you afraid? The response: "Terrified. But I did it anyway..."