I recently was given the opportunity to shoot my first big event. I was so excited…! And nervous. And then nervous some more. But when it started, I became so focused on what I was supposed to do that I realized I wasn’t nervous anymore. It was great! I loved every minute of it and even when it was winding down, I was still grinning like the Cheshire cat and could barely contain my excitement.
Here are some of the things that I learned…
1. I dressed professionally and tried my best to blend in. Sometimes I think that I am invisible. Really! And it works great as a photographer because people shouldn’t notice me. I don’t want them to notice me. I love natural, candid photography which is much easier to get when people don’t realize they are being photographed. But even when it’s supposed to be posed (and a lot of event/corporate photography is), I want to be able to snap the picture and move on, without a wrinkle. The subjects shouldn’t even remember the brief moment it took me to get that picture. It was a black tie event, and even though I wore slacks (remember how much we, as photographers, have to move and crouch and bend), I made sure they were neat and clean and paired them with a nice dressy top. Yes, I wore all black (I think black always looks dressier). And, yes, I covered the tattoos.
2. I took pictures of everything! The people are obviously the main event. However, I didn’t forget the setting, the stage, the tables, and the decorations. Also, I wanted the pictures to flow and tell a story. I tried to set the scene. I arrived early and was able to get some shots of the main room and stage before anyone came in. Also, getting there early made me focus and I forgot that I was supposed to be nervous.
3. Along with being invisible, I didn’t talk to anybody. I am a friendly person and I can hold a conversation with everyone from the grocery store clerk to fellow patients in a waiting room to the stranger next to me on the bus. But, in an event, the chitchat should be non-existent. I’m queen of the comeback quips and there were a few times when those words were just about to escape. I clamped my mouth shut and moved on. Honestly, I want people to forget that I was even there. There are a lot of things people should remember about an event. An annoying photographer isn’t one of them.
4. I have a tendency to be star struck. I have no idea why, but famous people fascinate me. Well, people in general fascinate me. But I tried to stay focused. And, someone famous was there that I wasn’t expecting to be there. I love her. And I love her work, but she wasn’t there to be stalked by me. While she did end up in the table photo, I didn’t even sneak an unsuspecting shot for my personal satisfaction. I never called her name, I didn’t even make eye contact with her.
5. I realized that I am not perfect. (Well, I kind of knew that already but it’s nice to be smacked in the face with it every now and then.) I missed a couple of shots that I probably should have gotten. Some shots are blurry and some ended up with really bad lighting. But I also got a lot of really great shots that I am proud of and I learned some valuable lessons that I would not have otherwise.
What I should have done better?
1. I should’ve worn more comfortable shoes. My feet hurt so bad I could hardly walk by the end of the 5 hours! I’m typically on my feet all day but the different shoes really took a toll on me.
2. I should’ve done my homework a little better. I wish I had scoped the company out beforehand so I knew who the main people were. I knew who the guest speaker was supposed to be and I fully snooped on him (remember my tendency to be star struck?) but when it came to the actual company holding the event, I failed to know the main players.
All in all, it was a great experience and I’m so grateful that someone took a chance on me. I could never thank them enough. This was a great step as I continue to grow as a photographer. I know I still have a long way to go, if I can ever fully get there, but I’m on the path and I love it.
© Photography by KimberlyDawn