I was standing in a camera shop in the centre of Brisbane when the anxiety began to take hold. Lizzie and I have a shoot this afternoon, and from all accounts it should be awesome: rockin’ couple, engagement party, private boat, emerald green dress, and the big city lights of Brisbane as the backdrop. I have the tools, and I have the talent. So, why am I so nervous, and why do I love this feeling so much?
There are so many things that can go wrong today, from accidentally shooting the whole day two stops underexposed in JPEG, to getting on the wrong boat, shooting someone else's party, and then dropping all my gear overboard, before being bitten by a mosquito and contracting Ross River Fever. Wedding photography is a dangerous business.
Only a couple of hours to go now. What should I be doing? The nerves are really kicking in. I can’t just continue walking in ever smaller circles, listening to the Cure. I do this to myself every time. When I woke this morning, I was feeling fine. Lizzie cooked me an awesome birthday breakfast, because it’s my birthday. I took a couple of well-wishing phone calls, but all too soon, it was time to get prepared.
I’ve checked my gear again and again. Counted my bodies: 2, that’s the correct number of bodies. My batteries are charged, camera, flash, and triggers. My cards are formatted, loaded, and there’re eight spares in my Pocket Rocket; that should last me the next few hours. All lenses cleaned and in their correct slots. Run sheet saved to my iPhone lock screen (thank you Pye). Check. Right, check again, just in case.
I'm as ready as I’ll ever be. I’m not going to check my gear again for at least half an hour, so it’s time to really let my mind run free on the fear. Who do I think I am, what right do I have calling myself a professional photographer? I tried at least one new thing on the last shoot that didn’t work out as well as I wanted. What if this time nothing I try works? What am I going to do if the music stops and someone points at me and yells, “he’s a fraud!”? What if I split my pants? Do I remember my exposure triangle? Do I know all my rules? Could I even draw a golden spiral freehand, I don't think so.
I know this feeling well. I get it before every shoot, I get it before I go onstage with my band, and I get it before I hit post on one of these blogs. I don’t consider myself an adrenaline junkie; I’ve never even owned a GoPro, but I do love this nervous anticipation. With the band, nerves are easier to deal with; it’s all about me. Any music made since the 70s is basically punk, and chaos is beautiful, but with photography, there’s a duty of care. Today isn’t about me. I get to paint it with my chaos, but there are limits, and there are expectations.
I know that as soon as I take that first image all of these cares will drift away. Lost in a sea of laughter, tears, beautiful moments, and wild dancing. I’ll surrender to the flow, and my camera will know just what to do. What was I so worried about? Wedding photography is totally punk rock.