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Second Guessing

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We were about to start shooting a wedding at a cathedral. It was one of our amazing 2012 couple’s wedding day and everything was going so SO well! Getting ready, first look, portraits, everything had been perfect! We arrive at the beautiful cathedral where the ceremony would be taking place and I notice that there are BRIGHT spotlights on the altar. So bright that you can feel the heat from them when you’re standing under them!! Me being nosy and not wanting to bother anyone, I started looking for the dimmer switch. Unfortunately, it was nowhere to be found and so I passed the priest in the hallway and mentioned my concern.

Maybe he was just having a bad day….or maybe this wasn’t his job and he was just annoyed that I was bothering him with such an unimportant question. Whatever the case, when I mentioned that the spotlights were too harsh, his response was “They aren’t spotlights and I have NEVER had another photographer complain.”

My immediate thought was 1. That was rude and 2. Maybe I’m wrong…. maybe that light is just fine and I don’t know what I’m talking about. If I was the first photographer to ever complain, maybe I was the one with the issue! ….. I thought about this during the ceremony as I exposed for just the bride and groom and the rest of the room was pitch black. Did it work, yes. Was it ideal? No. The more I thought about it, the more I questioned if I really knew what good lighting was! ….. And then I snapped out of it! Of course I know what good lighting is! I’ve been photographing weddings for well over 5 years now and I have over 200 under my belt!! I think I know what I’m talking about.

I realize that so often I doubt my knowledge and talent because of simple, uneducated comments from others. When a bride is getting ready and her aunt is turning EVERY lamp on in the room that has window light, it happens again. I’m questioned and I have to choose to remember that I know what I’m doing and they don’t. I also have to remember to handle those situations with grace because if I showed my frustration, that would tarnish how people view my business and personality.

Recently I had to ask a family member to keep the lamps turned off and they said to me “I have never seen a photographer that didn’t want LIGHT.” It was frustrating, but I had to realize that they had NO idea what they were talking about. I was so tempted to say “Well, you see, the Tungsten light and the natural light will cause the auto white balance of the camera to be off and I could fix it in post processing because I’m shooting RAW files and could adjust the split-toning but it would be better if I could calibrate my white balance for one type of light and since the window light is directional and creates highlights and shadows, that is the best light to use, I’ll just crank my ISO up to 1600 and drop my aperture a bit…… get it?”  :)

The truth is, I doubt myself just like everyone else…. and then I see what I’m capable of producing and I’m reminded that I’m a professional. I know what I’m doing…. I know that gazebos aren’t the most photogenic things on the planet, even though the majority of the world thinks they are.  I know that lighting is ALWAYS more important than location.  I know what makes a beautiful portrait and I have been creating them over and over again for the past 5+ years. Am I perfect? Umm, NO. Of course not. Do I have more to learn? Yes! I will never know EVERYTHING about photography…… But I know enough that I should never let comments from those who don’t understand photography affect me. I’ve learned that my gut feeling and initial opinion about lighting is normally accurate and my clients receive better images if I go with what I know!

So many photographers lack confidence and ambition simply because of one or two comments that really threw off their confidence. It’s happened to me before and so I understand that those harsh words can really make you doubt your abilities and your talent…. but that can’t define you. If you let simple, uneducated comments steal your confidence and joy in your work, you will NEVER make it in this industry…. or any industry for that matter! So pull up your boot straps, trust your judgement and your opinions and take control this weekend at your shoots and weddings!!!! Stop second guessing yourself and have a Happy Friday everyone! 

xoxo, Katelyn
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