Maila's first paid event!
I honestly did not know how to start this blog but with gratitude.
June 28, 2019 came. After preparing for this event by watching tutorial videos, acquiring gear and practising what I've learned, the day finally came when I got to apply my newfound knowledge and equipment. I had been hired to cover Sundre High School's graduation banquet night. The experience was overwhelming, but also exciting -- a veritable mix of every emotion in my heart and soul...joy, anxiety, fear, excitement, eagerness and contentment.
Covering the graduation banquet was challenging as I had never before covered a big event, let alone on a paid contract. The morning's graduation ceremony, followed later that evening by the dinner and dance, were entirely different from anything I’m used to shooting. That being said, I learned a lot, and I want to share those lessons with you.
I had to step out of my shell and open up, which took a conscious effort for an introvert like me, maybe because I know my English is not flawless. But at the same time, I also didn't know everybody there, so I really had to be sure to approach everyone and introduce myself while trying to avoid invading anyone else’s space. This taught me how to be more confident. Although I am not used to giving directions, the experience helped me to better control my fear of failure. It let me accept that I am human and that errors are inevitable. You cannot please everybody, so best to focus on what can go right rather than needlessly worry about what can go wrong. Mistakes are just an opportunity to grow, and what matters most is never giving up. As long I have equipment and my imagination, I will continue to use them. Not every picture will be perfect, so I must remind myself that it is all good and to just keep on trying and moving on.
Planning ahead is mandatory. I am not only referring to preparing all of your equipment or practising your shots, but also coordinating in advance with the organizers, the students as well as the hosts. That includes scouting out the venue beforehand, and trying to learn the program's itinerary so you'll know where and when to stand for the best angles. Don’t get me wrong, while I appreciate the trust these people placed in me to get the job done well, I think I could have done even better had I done all of the things I mentioned above.
Having those conversations would have given me a chance to meet with them personally so I could better get to know my subjects. Because to be honest, during the grad ceremony, as soon as the students removed their cap and gown, I did not know who the graduates and their families were. I realized that being a photographer doesn’t just mean only taking pictures, but also establishing a good relationship with my clients, including the students and their families. Communicating with all of these people would have better enabled me to place myself at a given time. For example, I missed a lot of potential photos when the dance began because I was changing my batteries on the other side of the arena and I was unaware that it was about to start. And by the time I got to the dance floor, I realized how tight the space I had to work with was, prompting me to switch to a wider lens, which took another few minutes. When I was finally ready, the first song was done.
Checking out the venue would have allowed me to know the area very well, giving me crucial insight on where to position myself during different parts of the program. By doing this, I would have known the best spots from which to take photos, and also gotten a better feeling for the lighting. If only I had done a bit more homework, I would have brought my strobe lights as well as my ladder, and positioned them precisely to capture the best pictures. Additionally, a better understanding of the evening's itinerary would have given me an advantage to get better images by being able to instruct my subjects where to stand without rushing them or myself.
But despite a few speed bumps, this was an unforgettable experience for me and if I am again extended the opportunity to cover the grad ceremony and banquet, I gladly will with all my heart! However, I would definitely apply all of these lessons, and am confident I would do even better.
To the graduates, their parents and families, I am forever grateful for trusting me to be a part of this milestone in your lives. No matter where life takes me, I will always remember the first group of people who gambled on me to do this job and deliver memorable photos they could cherish for years to come.