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Read This If You’ve Ever Been Scared Before a Photo Shoot

In the age of increased mental health awareness, it is important to address some mental health issues that photographers may have to cope with. For many, that is primarily anxiety. In this article, I will break down a few ways you can be less anxious before and during a shoot.

How I Shot Events at 17

Let me start with a personal story. At the joyfully stupid age of 17, through some connection of events, I was asked to come and shoot an event with 500 people. Some of them were CEOs and one of them was a minister. At that time, it was my biggest job ever — in fact, it was much bigger than anything before.

To say that it was a challenge would be an understatement.

In my arsenal, I had: a camera that took 1 CF card, a working lens, a semi-working lens, a poorly working Speedlite, a laptop from 2010, and a single hard drive. To add to the trouble, I was going to be in a different city without a camera store nearby to help should things go south.

I was incredibly stressed, but I couldn’t refuse a job I had wanted to do for some time. I didn’t know if I could pull it off, and I would describe the two days of shooting as being extremely stressful. In hindsight, that job was probably more than I could handle. However, the client has since hired me over and over again.

Ever since that experience, I’ve been trying to reduce stress as much as I can. I think over the years I’ve managed to distill shoot anxiety and figure out how to combat it.

Less Anxiety Translates Into More Fun

We’ve all been there: a shoot is coming up soon, you’re sweating, having a headache, and not having fun at all. I’ve been there, and I still go there sometimes. That’s completely normal. Each shoot is a huge commitment, the pre-production is often quite extensive, and failing on shoot day would be the worst thing imaginable.

While pre-shoot stress and anxiety can be quite normal, it is best to go on set feeling positive instead of stressed. I’ve found the environment to be a lot more fun and the resulting pictures better when the photographer is rather relaxed.

Prepare

Sometimes the origin of pre-shoot anxiety is simply lack of preparation. Winging a shoot rarely works, and it’s safe to assume that it won’t. If a major detail is up in the air on shoot day, I strongly suggest moving it to a later date. Some of the worst cases of anxiety stem from a lack of readiness.

One of the simplest ways to reduce anxiety is packing up for shooting the day before. For me that means going through a checklist of things:

Cameras and Lenses

Ask yourself: “What am I taking, and does it all work? Should one item die, can I still make do?”

If you’re in business, I suggest bringing a backup camera to all shoots. Even if it is significantly worse, it is still a backup that can take pictures. Ideally, you’ll want to own two copies of the same camera.

Lights and Grip

Pack them in cases and don’t leave loose lights or stands for the last minute. Check that all tubes work and that everything syncs properly. Stands should work as they did on day one, and make sure nothing is odd about your grip. It can get ugly expensive fast.

Batteries

Don’t store your batteries in the camera — I found that they deteriorate a bit faster. You want to make sure that everything is charged the day before. Labeling batteries helps you keep track of which ones are charged and ones that are not.

Read also: A DIY Solution for Tracking the Charge of Camera Batteries

Storage

Have multiple storage locations. Although I’m tethering most of the time, a few memory cards never leave my bag. I have two cards permanently in my go-to bag. In case I forget something at home, I have a place to shoot on.

If you’re going to be on location, designate a corner for stuff that’s packed. It is a very easy way to check everything you have and don’t have.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation is as important as mental preparation. One of the most stressful shooting experiences I had so far was a portrait right after sunset with only five minutes available for the subject. I visited the shoot location the day before and planned out everything. Mentally, I pictured the shots in my head, as well as I imagined myself shooting in the place tomorrow. While that may be stressful for some, it helps me be calm and reassured that I know what’s happening.

One of the best ways to prepare mentally for the situation is to grab a friend and give yourself 5 minutes to shoot a killer portrait of them. This mock session will give you practice when running against the clock and you won’t be as nervous about the real thing.

Care For Yourself

For me, caring for myself means having a nice breakfast with lots of coffee. Taking a long shower or just listening to music before the shoot can be relaxing and put you in the right place for shooting. I find it best to come to the studio as early as I can and just sit down sip on coffee before everyone arrives.

While Shooting

This is when nerves can kick in quite badly. When everyone arrived and you’re setting up, things may not go as planned and you may go back to feeling anxious. It is important to know that it may happen.

Assistants Are Your Best Friends

I truly believe that assistants are your best friends. You spend lots of time with them, and they are the people who know your process inside out. They often know everyone on the shoot and sometimes even know more than you do.

Chatting with an assistant can be very helpful when you’re bouncing ideas back and forth. If Plan A doesn’t work, the assistant knows what Plan B is, and can execute it in a second. I discuss what I will be doing in detail before each shoot, and if something is a bit dodgy I talk it through with the assistants.

Be Grateful

I like to think that the universe never gives you more than you can handle. If something changes, it is probably because you’ve got it. Like me and the big event job, it was just on the brink of what I could handle, and for that reason the opportunity presented itself. I probably can’t handle a Nike campaign just yet, so I’m not shooting something on that level. Regardless of what is happening, chances are you’ve got it — otherwise, it wouldn’t happen. Being grateful for what’s happening is a great trick up your sleeve to reduce stress.

Gratitude is a great thing. While that sounds like the most obvious sentence in this article, it is probably the most important one. You can’t be prepared for everything materially, but you can be grateful for your team, for the world, and for the past to align so that you are able to shoot.

Being grateful and expressing that gratitude over and over again is creating positive energy and a positive shooting environment. This comes down to saying thank you, but also to feeling grateful.

People are putting their hands to work so that you can shoot pictures. I find that incredibly kind, and I’m grateful for my team and everyone involved. Part of feeling grateful is being approachable. A team member should not be afraid to ask you something, even if it is the craziest idea they’ve ever had. Being kind and grateful goes a long way in feeling comfortable and reducing anxiety in photography.

Conclusion

I’d like to conclude by saying that reducing anxiety in photography is not a quick fix. It took me a few years to get to where I am now. Starting to be more prepared is easier, but feeling grateful takes some time and even courage. Being courageous enough to say ideas out loud and being grateful for others and yourself is crucial to feeling “home” when shooting. Think back to when you first picked up a camera; did you have fun? If yes, why not have fun now?


About the author: Illya Ovchar is a fashion photographer based in Budapest, Hungary. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Ovchar’s work on his website.


Image credits: Stock photos licensed from Depositphotos

Lessons Learned on Making Something from ‘Nothing’ as a Photographer

One of the most constantly joyful aspects of photography is the ability of the medium to allow the creator to make something from nothing.

Nothing doesn’t mean forgetting and leaving the lens cap on but instead studying things that are not epic or poetic in a way that renders them aesthetically. I’ve seen beautiful photographs made of leaves, folds in newspapers, overflowing bins, and many other things we would otherwise pass by.

This idea that photography can visually elevate the mundane is nothing new, and plenty has been written and discussed about the ways this can be practiced. It is central to many genres, including street and still life, where the everyday can become larger than life. However, I am not so certain that the same can be achieved when it comes to telling a story in a way that accurately describes what happened when what happened wasn’t too interesting.

Sometimes the everyday is just the everyday, no more, no less. Sometimes you can put poetry and artistry into a photograph, but the story it tells does not become more interesting by association.

I recently spent some time in Bulgaria, which was necessary for me to transit onwards to work on a project in the United States. The decision to spend this time in Sofia, Bulgaria, was not directed by any specific project or goal beyond running down the clock before I was able to head onwards to the States, which left me without a narrative to guide my day-to-day routine there. I had just spent a very hectic summer focused on a number of documentary photographs, so to be thrown back into undirected street photography was a bit challenging.

I did not find it difficult to make interesting observations to photograph or to find “uninteresting” things to make interesting through photography, but what was difficult was the reconciliation that the story I would eventually be telling through these photographs was not an inherently interesting one.

Sofia is a beautiful city, although a lot was restricted due to pandemic safeguards, which left me to a simple daily exploration of the outdoors as I worked with whatever situations I happened across. Although I am happy with the collection of photographs I produced, they do not make for a riveting sequence in the way that some of my more energetic documentary stories with structure as simple as beginning, middle, and end, might.

The sequence I ultimately decided on for the body of work shot while there was roughly an outline of this daily routine, moving from point of interest to point of interest. There are a couple of vignettes highlighting the time I spent around the skate community, and the photographs I shot on Christmas day at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

This is not a substantial narrative and is closer to a collection of street photographs and personal journal than my more intimate documentary investigations. In this way, my publication, Transiting Bulgaria, very much feels like it is something from nothing. There is not a lot of groundbreaking introspection, not enough anecdotes for it to be a diary, not enough investment in any particular story beyond my own to consider it anything other than a document of a place at a particular time.

For some this is enough. Plenty of street photography publications seem content to simply present a highlight reel or portfolio style body of images, bound to the photographer more than to a story. I want to be able to say that this is enough to me, and in the case of Transiting Bulgaria, it almost has to be, to exist as a personal chapter which will either interest people or not but, without anything to really tie it together overall, with no ultimate point or conclusion to be found.

I am happy with the work, I really am – for a focused and dedicated amount of time I am proud to have produced the quantity and quality of work that I have, but my lesson was that I needed to accept that not all of my projects will be some decade-spanning feat or extreme deep dive into a culture.

Instead, it’s about allowing these quieter editions to exist alongside those other works and accepting that these are as much a part of my work and life. The less-interesting bits in-between the high-energy sprints are healthy and allow me and my career to breathe in a natural, peaceful, way.


P.S. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Transiting Bulgaria, it is currently available to pre-order from my website at a reduced list price of £22 until the end of June, at which point pre-orders will be fulfilled.


About the author: Simon King is a London-based photographer and photojournalist, currently working on a number of long-term documentary and street photography projects. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can follow his work through his documentary collective, The New Exit Photography Group, and on Instagram.

What it’s like to live in a remote fjord town in Iceland as a photographer

The older I get, the more I want to move from the city to a small, quiet village. From what I know, many people have the same dream. Well, photographer Isley Reust is living this dream. After living in the US and Germany, she moved to a small remote fjord town of Ìsafjörður in Iceland. […]

The post What it’s like to live in a remote fjord town in Iceland as a photographer appeared first on DIY Photography.

It took six hours and 400,000 images to shoot this timelapse of massive solar activity

Whenever I see Andrew McCarthy’s name pop up on my Instagram feed, I know I’ll see and read something amazing. This time, this creative astrophotographer blew my mind with a timelapse of a massive active region of the Sun. It took Andrew solid six hours of observation and shooting this incredible sight, but judging from […]

The post It took six hours and 400,000 images to shoot this timelapse of massive solar activity appeared first on DIY Photography.

This is what a 10-million second long exposure photograph of the sun looks like

Matthew Vandeputte is generally better known for his timelapse and hyperlapse work than his regular single image photography. But in this project, he decided to kind of merge the two, shooting what is essentially a timelapse in a single exposure that lasted for four months. Of course, he didn’t use the digital cameras he typically […]

The post This is what a 10-million second long exposure photograph of the sun looks like appeared first on DIY Photography.

These hilarious photos are friendly reminders that Instagram doesn’t reflect real life

Sure, we all know that what we see on Instagram is a carefully curated version of real life. But it’s easy to forget it sometimes. It’s easier than you think to fall into a trap of thinking that everyone has their sh*t together except you. This is why we occasionally need friendly reminders to tell […]

The post These hilarious photos are friendly reminders that Instagram doesn’t reflect real life appeared first on DIY Photography.

Photographer explores subconscious mind through dark and intimate skin macro photos

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love it when two different forms of art intertwine to create something new and unique. Such is the project Too Close for Comfort by the UK-based photographer Courtenay Florence. Florence mixes macro photography and writing, adds a generous amount of intimacy, psychology, and subconscious, and […]

The post Photographer explores subconscious mind through dark and intimate skin macro photos appeared first on DIY Photography.

Follow these five tips if you don’t want to suck at color theory

Understanding color theory is one of the essential skills for photographers. It combines art and science and it’s what makes it so interesting, so complex… and so frustrating at times. If you want to be a good photographer, you don’t want to suck at color theory. And this video from Greg Gunn (The Futur Academy) […]

The post Follow these five tips if you don’t want to suck at color theory appeared first on DIY Photography.

Gorgeous Starlapse Shot From Upcoming Launch Site of Ariane 6 Rocket

Watching any Milky Way timelapse is almost always an awe-inspiring experience, but add in the stellar location of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Ariane 6 rocket launch site and you’ve got a recipe for something truly special.

As Digital Trends reports, the agency is currently preparing for the arrival of Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle. The above starscape-filled timelapse was filmed around the launch base in French Guiana and lets you “imagine yourself stepping out of the launcher assembly building or standing on the launch pad in front of the 90-meter high mobile gantry, to look at the stars.”

The video opens with a breathtaking view of the Milky Way before shifting gears and showing off several of the night scenes around the ESA’s launch site in South America where Europe’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket will soon lift off from. Comprised of two versions, the Ariane 6 is a modular three-stage launcher (Solid-Cryogenic-Crogenic) and is configured with an A62 with two strap-on boosters and an A64 with four boosters. The entire Ariane 6 sits at just over 60 meters tall (196.85 feet), which is just about the same height as SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

The European Space Agency says the new rocket will weigh nearly 900 tons when launched with a full payload that is “roughly equivalent to one-and-a-half Airbus A380 passenger airplanes.” The video below shows what this launch mission should look like once the rocket finally gets started.

According to the ESA, the launch of the Ariane 6 is comprised of three stages: the two or four strap-on boosters, a core stage, and the upper stage. The core stage propels the Ariane 6 for the first 10 minutes of flight where either the two or four boosters will provide additional thrust at liftoff. The upper stage will be powered by the re-ignitable Vinci engine allowing the Ariane 6 to reach a range of orbits on a single mission to deliver more payloads, with the upper stage burning up two or more times to reach the required orbit. Once the payload has been separated, the rocket will burn a final time to deorbit the upper stage to mitigate space debris.

Exploded view

Sitting at the top of the rocket is the 20 meters (65.6 feet) tall and 5.4 meters (17.7 feet) diameter Ariane 6 fairing which will contain the various payloads and protect them from any thermal, acoustic, or aerodynamic stress during the ascent to space. This section has only recently arrived at the launch facility and will undergo a series of tests before its maiden voyage into outer space. While the rocket was initially scheduled to launch back in 2020, multiple delays — including some caused by the global coronavirus pandemic — have caused the mission to be pushed back until the spring of this upcoming year (2022).