When all your friends and family members know that you are into photography, it sometimes happens that they ask you if you can shoot photos for them. That’s basically how I often got a chance to gain experience in portrait photography as well. As with everything, you have to learn it, by just doing it. When I go through my library, I see how my portraits got better and better, although there is probably still room to improve. I don’t own an external flash yet, but I think that could improve my portraits too in the future.
To get back to the point that you sometimes get challenged to try something new, this happened again this week. This time I was not asked to take portraits for someone, this time my best friend asked me if I could take group photos of his son’s soccer team. It’s a little league soccer team and they don’t need prints, they just need a good group photo of the team for their website. Hiring a professional is probably not the best option for a small soccer club, which is why my friend probably asked me. I played in a soccer team too when I was young and my family paid membership contributions. Small clubs do this to be able to pay for expenses.
So, I had no problem to say yes, and I don’t want money. We will do the shooting in a week, he is still waiting for the coach to give an exact day. Anyway, I told my friend that photography is not equal photography. He liked all my nature and animal photos that I also do upload to Facebook at times, but I told him that this is a completely different subject. With animals for example it’s about your own expectations, because you either get a great shot or not, it doesn’t matter because it’s for your own library. When I work with people, I do think more about their expectations. Then thoughts like “What if I mess it up?” are not far away.
I told my friend that I want to do it anyway, because who knows what I can do in the future with the experience I gain. I also told him that I know my camera already very well and that I have to set things up manually to find the results I want to see. I explained that I would want to take several shots, not only to find the right exposure, but also to have the whole group in focus. Another thing that could easily go wrong if you don’t take enough photos is that some kids in the picture have the eyes closed or anything like that. My friend replied that we will take our time, they don’t expect me to nail it right away, I can do enought shots.
Perfectionism is a devil. I sometimes think too much about the things that could go wrong or not, and that not just with photography. I want to do the things right, and these thoughts can really stress me out. It’s like having an angel on the left shoulder, and the devil on the right, both fighting each other. The angel would say “Just go there, it’s your first time but it will be fun, it will work and you gain experience”, while the devil’s reply would be “Mate, you have to be prepared, black clouds will be upon you, driving you over ISO 1600”. You maybe get what I mean, I’d be more relaxed if I knew the exact conditions already today. That however would probably be not the case if I would already be experienced working with groups.
The shooting will be anytime soon, probably within a week and definitely at 7pm. At first this was freaking me out, but then I noticed that this would be short before the golden hour starts. So, maybe I shouldn’t freak out about lightning, it could be the best colour if the sun is behind me and if there are not huge cloud walls blocking the sun. I don’t need massive DoF, which means I want to shoot over f/8 to get a focussed picture. That would also mean that I don’t need my Nikon 50mm 1.8G lens, I could just use my Nikon 18-105mm lens that allows me to try different framing without moving my position. I could use aperture mode, but maybe I will set my camera somewhere around 1/100 or 1/150 shutter speed, depending on the lightning conditions and aperture. Same for ISO, I will try anything between 100 and 400 ISO depending on the conditions. Getting the picture exposed to my liking is just trying different settings. Also I will have a chance to use my tripod!
I am more afraid that I can’t get every face in the picture in focus. I say that because usually I take photos of single individuals or single objects, which means I just have to focus on the individual subject. Since I never did work with groups, my first question was how I would get everyone in focus. I did research a bit about this situation and as it seems I still can use the single focus point, because if I would use more focus points, I would hand the decision where to focus over to the camera. So, as I have read, it’s probably best to use the single point to focus at someone’s face in the middle of the first row of the group. I hope I will get the kids in the second row in focus too on that way. You see what I mean, I don’t have these thoughts when I take a photo of a bird, I just focus on the bird and I am happy if the shot is good, and the bird won’t complain if not. With people it’s different, and you have to do it right.
I was so busy thinking if I get the whole group in focus, but then I wondered if finding the right background would be a challenge too. But logic did hit me, I could just place the kids in front of the goal box, because we have it to do with a soccer team, and the box represents the sport very well. I don’t think that it is creative, because I think most soccer team photos are taken in front of the box, but I think it just fits well. Another fear that I have is that I might not be able to keep the kids in mood when I do some test photos. In fact, I am not sure how to make them smile at all. That’s my point about working with people, it takes more than just pressing the shutter button. That’s why I am interested to do it despite my insecurity, because it’s a good way to get used to these situations and to learn something new.
Do I plan to do photography prosessionally? Of course not, I am absolutely happy with photography as a hobby. Also I don’t own all the gear that might be handy for professional work, and second I don’t think that I am at a professional level yet, nor am I sure if I ever will be. But my point is that you can try different things out with photography, and who knows, maybe someday I will feel so experienced that I get this crazy idea. It’s not my goal yet, but I think it would be stupid to say no to opportunities where I can learn new things. Apart from photography, I can also improve myself with new situations, especially because depression and social anxiety was a real problem in my past. I am still sometimes bad with new situations, because as said it can make me quite nervous, and I don’t want this. And the only way that helps here is to say yes to new situations, or to situations I am not used to, because then I will be less in panic if the same situation comes up again.
I can’t do anything now, I think I should relax and wait for the shooting. I think I will manage it to take a good photo for them, and it will probably be a lot of fun.