Everyone always wants to know, what are the worst experiences I’ve had as a photographer? I don’t like to think of any experience as bad, but there have been some learning opportunities…
1. Forgotten Memory Cards
In the very early days of running a photography business, I showed up at a client's house ready for their autumn golden hour family session, with no memory cards. Also, with no knowledge of this fact until we were all outside and the camera was pointed at them. Needless to say, this was a mortifying experience. I ended up borrowing the memory card out of the family's vacation camera to complete the shoot, as I lived across town with no time to turn around before losing the light.
What I learned? To keep my cards organized in a memory card keeper. To immediately replace the memory card holder in the pocket where I keep them in my backpack after importing the images onto my computer. To double, triple and even quadruple-check that I have my cards. To be humble and know there will always be room for error, we’re all human, after all.
After one of my very first brand shoots, I delivered the imagery which I was very happy with, only to find out the client was…not. The client had a set of expectations that I was unaware of. Their communication with me was less than professional, and I was now re-shooting a session that I didn’t charge enough for in the first place.
What I learned? To make sure both sides (me and the client) are very clear ahead of the session. To create vision boards. To communicate thoughtfully and candidly. To raise my prices to avoid resentment.
3. lululemon Spin Shoot sans Flash
In one of my first lululemon shoots (back when every major city had their own channel), I was hired to create some spin content. At this point in my fitness photography career, I had only ever used cheap lights if I couldn’t use a natural light source, I had no idea I needed a flash, let alone how to use one. If you’ve never been in a spin studio, you'll know, they're very dark, and a flash is essential for creating bright movement in a fast-paced exercise. The client was clear with me ahead of the session and was very candid in giving me feedback on my work after the session.
What I learned? I needed to learn more skills to be a better photographer. To not be defensive when feedback comes, it’s business, it’s not personal. To create relationships with clients that are full of open and honest communication. This moment changed the trajectory of my career. I owe everything to the person who delivered the feedback in such a candid way.
I want to know what your worst experiences at a session have been, and what you learned from the experience!