It’s easy for the pro shooter to get so caught up in the artistry of photography that (s)he forgets that it’s essentially still a business. While creativity is a critical ingredient for both hobbyist and the pro shooter, impetus flows rather differently in both cases.
Perfectly acceptable for the hobbyist to shoot what and when they want. For the pro shooter, however, the client plays a huge part in determining all of that. There’s a reason they say “the customer is king”, despite being every bit human: random and diverse as can be. That’s the way of business. Few things typify this better than the picture you see above.
I had cleared my agenda for the weekend, wanting to attend to a few personal things. A ‘quick’ game of soccer in the morning to get the blood pumping right and I could have the rest of the day to myself. Turns out a client had something else planned. Soccer kept me out in the blistering heat for the better part of three hours; was absolutely knackered – but, per my plans, it was nothing a full ‘indoor day’ couldn’t fix.
Had barely got in bed to sleep it off when this particular client called. He (and the miss) wanted a shoot – and they wanted it ‘NOW’. It was absolutely insane (said the human in me) – but every artist has that crazy Nike voice in their heads that always says “just do it”. I loved the concept and what they were trying to achieve. They seemed like just the kind of people I would enjoy working with. So, against every strand of logic and human instinct, I jumped out of bed and headed to the race track.
Physically, it was impossible; my reflexes had been numbed by sleep-deprivation, every joint in my body ached, and there was nothing but a little post-soccer cereal in my stomach. But the client wanted it ‘Now’. (Of course, you can always say ‘No’ – but that’s not the point here. The point is how to brace effectively for random client demands). It wasn’t easy – but it was possible to drag myself and still exceed their expectations (perks of being human). Imagine if my gear wasn’t ready. There would have been no getting around that. I’m yet to discover how to make an empty battery useful on a shoot.
You see, I learnt long ago the importance of keeping inertia to the minimum. You just never know when the next call would come in. Being ready at short notice is an amazing way to delight old clients and get new ones (many last-such clients would typically have had last-minute issues with the photographers they’d been in discussions with). In the famous words of the Boy Scouts: “Be Prepared”.
Quick Tip: Charge batteries and clean out gear after every shoot. It’s the perfect preparation for the next.
Feel free to post your thoughts or ask questions about this picture.