Ever make a mistake? Yes, me too and when I do they are normally doozies! I consider myself a perfectionist. I was the kid who would not erase, but start over on a paper, it always took me longer because of this. I still carry that bit of perfectionism into my life today and in doing so it imparts undue stress which is something I try to avoid.
When it comes to photography, I rarely have to edit, not that my photos are perfect, far from it many times, but I try to get my settings right in camera to avoid having to spend time in front of a computer to edit. Last week that completely changed and I had an extremely humbling experience.
The story begins when I was asked by the lead singer of a headlining band to take their final bow shot at the end of the evening. I knew it would be difficult because the lighting at these shows are less than stellar. I accepted the challenge convinced I’d be able to give them something great. Throughout the show I really fought with my settings and the non existent or highly saturated stage lighting, but I still thought “I can do this” because there is one thing I rarely do is question my skills. Finally the moment came I climbed the steps up to the stage to position myself behind the drum kit and on my way I kept thinking, “I should have grabbed my flash”, I really didn’t want to use flash because the idea was to capture the crowd behind the band. I shot off the first few frames and thought my settings were adequate, however I had nothing to focus on as the stage lights were completely off except for this glaring green light bouncing off the cymbals. Still no realizing what was happening I continued to shoot as both bands took a final bow and my job was done.
On the way home the lead singer sent me a text message telling me how he couldn’t wait to see the photos. I felt the same way, until I downloaded them into Lightroom. My stomach dropped, every single photo was dark; except for the green lights reflecting from the cymbals on the drum kit. What was I going to do? I completely broke down; THESE were the MOST important shots of the night and I had completely failed. I began to question myself, my abilities and my judgement. For three days I tried to work on the photos and just could not get anything usable. I was devastated, I had ruined the photos.
On the fourth day once again I received a text message from the lead singer asking when I would be sending the photos over, I told him they would be done later that night; again I broke down, but something at that moment hit me. I could and would salvage the photo!
I needed to believe in myself and my abilities and understand I could solve the problem (with a lot of prayer and pleading to God). Finally it came to me what to do and three hours later, the band had their photo.
Here is what I didn’t realize at the time: The green lights were reflecting from the cymbals back to the sensor on my camera, so when I thought I was exposing for the faces, I exposing for the cymbals. I should have stepped forward instead of staying behind the drums and finally I should have used my flash and deal with the crowd in post processing.
Here is what I learned about myself: Always go with your gut! No matter what, do what your instincts tell you to do. I should have used my flash. Next I learned that I need to not stress over this, just breathe and work until a solution is evident. And finally I learned I am human, and I make mistakes and I need to learn from them. However, the biggest take away from this is that God has given me the gift of creativity and I need to rely on him and not on myself no matter how impossible the situation seems. Thanks for following me, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!