Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What Comfort Zone?

So, I mentioned on my Twitter feed a few days ago that I had a request from a client that put me a little out of my comfort zone. Some people might think I'm a pansy for this, but basically, the client (actually, the clients PR agent) requested that I hand over a few select images the night of the job, immediately following the shoot.

Now, for me, I follow the concept of "get it right in-camera" pretty closely, but the idea of not being able to analyze and do any minor editing before the client sees the work still scares me. What if I had a bad night? What if my settings were a little off for a few of the more important shots? What if I just flat-out failed?

News photographers are probably too busy pointing at their screen and laughing at me to continue reading, but the truth is, for most of us, we're afraid to let people see our raw, unedited work. If we get home, or back to our offices, and go through our images to find out that nothing needed any tweaking at all, then we pat ourselves on the back and feel a sense of accomplishment. Should we return to our computers to find that some images need some CPR, then we make the necessary changes, say a few funny sounding words under our breath, and deliver our newly-perfect, polished images. We then pat ourselves on the back and feel a sense of accomplishment. In the end we don't release anything we aren't proud of, so the concept of not having at least the chance to give ourselves the mental "green light" is frightening! What if we look like completely inept morons and the client never calls us back again!? What if we shot the entire night with the wrong white balance and everyone looks like a martian!? There are a ton of "what if" questions, but in the end, it all comes down to this: Am I good enough?

Really though, we're artists, and we have this relationship with our work where we always want to be better, to do better, to create better things. Maybe our fear of showing unedited work comes from our desire to constantly critique and torture ourselves.

On a final note, what really is a "comfort zone?" Obviously, it has a definition, but seriously, why do we put ourselves into these little boxes of "I can do this" and "I can't do that" and how do we know when to break free? Without sounding like I'm bragging, the photos came out just fine, and client and their PR agent were very pleased and the necessary photos went out for immediate release that night. I delivered the balance of the images to the client on Monday... and the only editing I did was cropping.

Just goes to show you that you don't know what you can accomplish until you are pushed to do so. It's impossible to tell yourself to be spontaneous with this kind of stuff because planning to be spontaneous is in-and-of-itself the very opposite of the concept.

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