Perfectionism at it’s Best (Worst)

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.

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Before

 

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.

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After

 

 

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!

October Madness

October is the month where my photographic life starts to pick up. With the cooler temperatures come more outdoor events  here in the beautiful state of Florida, specifically South West Florida.  I shoot more concerts, festivals and portraits during the fall & winter months than any other time of the year, and some weeks it’s totally crazy.  I  don’t mind  the crazy because October is what I call my “sad” month; it’s the month my father passed away thirty-three years ago on October 17.  I have written before that he too was a photographer and I know if he could see what I have done with a camera he would be incredibly proud of me, but I miss him.  This is also the month my oldest son Jimmy turns 33; where has the time gone?  I was just a young girl of twenty-four when this all took place, truly a lifetime ago.

I have a lot of wonderful events on the books and I’m sure I’ll be writing more as they unfold, but for now………daddy, this one’s for you.

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My father Azle Marteney and my first real camera

Immortality

As I thought about this work “immortality” I am forced to think about my own.  Being a photographer my job is to capture images for people to pass on so they can in a way, become immortal.  It’s a given we are all going to pass from this world, but we can leave incredible memories for those we leave behind.  I was reminded of this just this past week, as our area suffered an EF2 tornado.  Living in Florida, they do happen mostly out in the water and are known as ‘water spouts’, but in the past week we have had some pretty severe weather which has ignited the atmosphere with tornadic activity.  In one close by neighborhood many families had devastating loss of property; everything was blown all over the neighborhood, including photographs.  Someone in the neighborhood found the photographs and posted them on Facebook to see if they could find the owners, saying “we know these mean something to someone and want to get them to the owner”.  I am hoping the family whom the photos belonged were reunited.

These past few weeks with the death of several celebrities like actor Alan Rickman, singer songwriter, performer David Bowie and most recently Glenn Frey of the Eagles, I’ve been taking a walk down memory lane looking at the photos from years past.  As a concert photographer I know when I am photographing an artist that I am one of those who will be continuing their legacy.  In late 2013 I had the honor of photographing the late Johnny Winter in concert and in July 2014 he passed away; I may very well be one of the last people to have photographed him, I have that photo printed and in a scrap book.

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Johnny Winters

All the time I am questioned as to why I don’t offer digital images and I tell potential clients it’s because you are the legacy to your children and grandchildren, without physical photographs in hand, you may not have your story visually told.  Sure I could offer DVD’s or flash drives full of photographs, but the chances of that making it out of a disaster and found or if found not being corrupted is slim; and your life events recorded upon that digital media will be gone forever. Not to mention the fast paced change we see with the way digital media is stored, there may not be a way to view those images in the future.  I suffered this loss myself when I lost my hard drive in 2005 from hurricane Wilma, the electrical surge fried my computer and all of my youngest son’s graduation photos were on that computer……now lost forever.

So for everyone who takes photographs, no matter if you use a point & shoot, dslr or your cell phone, please make prints of your work.  It does not matter if you are shooting wildlife, your pets, your family or even those selfies.  Take those digital images and print them out and put them in an album.  I have done this, I have photos of my adult children, my cat and my adventures with wildlife.  I also have a scrap book of just about all the concerts I have photographed on a professional level along with the credentials that went with the concert.  This is to preserve my legacy as a concert photographer and the personal photos will insure, my family will be remembered long after I am gone.