Failing Less & Learning More

About a week ago I got a message from someone on Instagram asking if I would be interested in photographing them. “This is really starting to take off”, I thought to myself. My confidence burst through my chest: I have people reaching out to me to be photographed. Have I made it? Are people actually interested in my work? Why am I also nervous? I tend to get extremely nervous before photographing people: I think about their expectations and how I’m going to meet them over and over in my head. I have to remind myself that there are no expectations, and that I’m free to let my creativity wander. I’m still creating molds I need to break.

I met up with Justin in downtown Toledo right after work, which meant 8 straight hours of looking for inspiration online and trying to figure out what I can do differently to make these photographs stand out. I have a difficult time not letting my thoughts become headaches & damaging my creative process. 

So we meet up and make our way to my first spot. I’ve cultivated a new process where I go on long walks with people before I start shooting; I find it helps ease the tension & nerves from everyone if we start with light chat about whatever crosses our minds. 

Justin told me that he happened upon my photos through my work with Flynn not one week prior. He complimented my work, explaining that he’d always been interested in being photographed but never reached out to anyone he thought would be too professional and over-priced. Ah, my medium

During our talks in-between photos we talked about our shared love for music, particularly punk-rock. I shamelessly told my love story for blink-182 and many other bands that influenced the music I create. Though he has a great love for all depths of music, Justin surprised me when he noted that he wasn’t in the band. He totally has the vibe & heart. If you need a bass player, I’d reach out. 

During our first hour of exploration I played it safe with my locations: I used places that had served me well before. However, I tried to make a point to look in new places for scenery, which ended up leading us on a hunt through a parking garage with some fantastic lighting. 

I think I play it too safe with my portraits. After so many years of trying more to please my clients with safe, easy images I stopped being expressive and  creative with my photos. I think about this frequently when I dump my card every night. But I suppose learning from these small failures is what makes it less of a failure, right?