Forget heights, snakes, spiders, and the dark. We need to focus on some real phobias for a change - like group portraits, malfunctioning gear, and...posing senior guys! Just as the seemingly picture perfect family, with the gorgeous, well-behaved children, lovely home, and dazzling careers inevitably often has something else lurking beneath the surface, so does the world of professional photography. Sure, we may look calm, cool, and collected in our crisp black turtlenecks but unbeknownst to the casual viewer, we too suffer from demons. These demons are the dreaded 'photo phobias' we all carry with us to each shoot. We've spoken with hundreds of professional photographers throughout the years about this phenomena and it's enough to leave you walking away saying, “Now I know it's not just me!” Most likely, just like many other pros whose 'photo phobia' manifests as a series of anxiety-ridden dreams. And it's quite fascinating how universal the dreaded “pre-wedding dreams” are. We all know the 'pre-wedding dreams'. They start a few nights before a wedding and involve anything from showing up at the wedding naked, to not showing up at the wedding at all, and our personal favorite, getting to the wedding and realizing that we've brought no equipment, and the bride and groom are beginning their march down the aisle. Whether we are afraid of shooting large groups, obsessed about losing our images, or worry that our equipment will malfunction, we are here to detect the underlying reason for these crippling feelings that pang in our chests and could make us question our love for the career.
WHAT THE FEAR MEANS
One of the first ways to calming a fear is understanding the root of the distress. Before the fear can be tackled, it's important to understand why it's there. Basically, fear is just as natural of an emotion as love or anger. It's a feeling that is not only essential to have in order to move successfully through life, but also essential for our very survival. Without fear, our ancestors would have died off a long, long time ago. Think about it. If we are in the woods making ourselves a peanut butter and honey sandwich and accidentally break the honey jar, getting it all over us, only to look up and notice a hungry bear staring us down, it's time to be very, very afraid. This is survival fear and should be uncomfortable because without it we wouldn't start running for our lives. However, other fears are not so easy to understand, thereby, it takes more work to overcome it. If we dig deeper and discover the root of the fear, we will see that there is a solution.
CALM THAT BEAST!
It may seem elementary, but the absolute most important tip is preparation. We've found that no matter what the day throws at us, 99% of the time we can quickly handle with the situation with an adequate level of preparation. Preparation means never going into a situation blindly. We'll even take a pretty risky gamble and say that there's probably no such thing as being over-prepared. Another important tip to help deal with the jitters is knowledge. And, yes, we've heard it a million times but we'll say the three magic words again. Know. Your. Equipment. Know it forwards, backwards, inside and out. How many times have we fallen into a situation of equipment malfunction? In particular, let's just talk about the most important device: your camera. Something is wrong. The screen turns black, an error message lights up in exclamation marks and our faces turn twenty-five shades of white, gray, and green. Our immediate fear is that the device is not fixable. Panic sets in, our fear is becoming a reality. But, hold on a second, our fear wouldn't come to life if we truly educated ourselves on every aspect of the equipment. If we had taken the time to read the manual and familiarize ourselves with all the ins and outs of the device, any problem would be solved in a matter of seconds and we would have been spared the grief and added stress. Last, but not least, another tip to banish panic is experience! Over time, we land all sorts of jobs that will put us in different situations we aren't used to and there is no way to calm the jitters that come with inexperience. If we are just starting out on our own as a professional, it will be awhile until we are able to approach all shoots confidently, as confidence comes with practice, experiences, and many trial-and-error problem solving events. But, don't fret! Each shoot will be an amazing opportunity to learn new things from mistakes made and to add the solutions to your fear-busting repertoire. It takes time to experience every problem, malfunction, and weird situation. And the good news? The photo phobia won't last, but it will take time to subside. Just hang in there and know that our confidence will shine more and more with each successful shoot. It's true. Fear is real and it can be paralyzing. It may be the one and only obstacle between us and the achievement of success. But, with preparation, knowledge and experience, we promise you, fear will dissolve...leaving us with ability to accomplish our happiest dreams without the nightmares and stress!
Perhaps your anxieties are internal? The fear of failing at that which is most dear to you? Or the terror of living with regrets that can never be remedied?