No amount of excuses can change or make up for the fact that, when it comes to creating portraits, I am rusty. It’s embarrassing, to say the least because I know people who have been shooting during this pandemic and didn’t let it stop them from getting out there and continuing to practice their craft. Before this week, the last time I photographed anyone was in June at my final wedding. And before that, I’d photographed a mom and a mom-to-be. And that’s my own fault. I keep wanting to say that it’s the pandemic, oh what a weird year, or tell everyone that I’ve been going through a transitional phase and felt like I needed to get back to the learning process before running out and shooting. And while both of those things are true, they did not have to stop me from continuing the practice. What stopped me, more than anything else was fear.
Needless to say, I’ve had long breaks between having to be in front of a client or even personal project subject. My kids and my husband don’t count on this front. I photograph them on a nearly daily basis. But this practice does not help me get in shape for being in front of people I know very little about. I don’t have to give my family much posing or be on my game. I don’t truly worry about lighting or location because I’m really just capturing our memories.
On Tuesday, when I photographed Emma & Price Suddarth, I realized just how rusty I truly am. I needed to warm up for quite a bit longer than I usually do before starting to feel like I was in the flow of the shoot. I didn’t feel like my normal self, I didn’t have that “I got the shot” vibe. And I spent quite a bit of time joking or giggling or apologizing to hide the fact that I felt uncomfortably out of practice.
Lucky for me, Emma and Price are kind and understood how I felt. They allowed me to figure out what I was doing while they stood in the chilly pre-fall morning air. They gave me grace as I remembered that I needed to give them a solid count down before capturing one of their breathtaking jumps.
Here’s the moral: Practice. Keep up the habit. I just read an incredible book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It made me feel both ashamed that I’ve been slacking as a photographer and also motivated to get off my butt and go shoot something. I can easily change the habit of letting fear stop me from getting in front of the camera. So that’s what I’m going to do. One small step for man at a time. One giant leap for my self-confidence.