Wow. My very first paid gig EVER! And no; it isn’t the one to which I previously alluded in an earlier post. This one came out of the blue…from left field…out of nowhere. And maybe it should have stayed out there.
Sometime last year I was hanging out at my local camera shop, chatting with my main man Alex, when in came a customer who needed some help with a few questions. This cute little blonde had dragged in her kit and plenty of kit she had! (get your minds out of the gutter) Apparently she has her own family-run photography thing and she had been having some issues with white balance when doing team shots at a local gym.
Oddly enough I thought I might have the answer in my head, but said nothing while Alex outlined his solution. Even more odd was how his solution was the same as mine. Or vice versa. Or something like that.
While they finished up with a conversation and looking at some equipment for her flash, I was thinking, “Damn. I don’t get paid to be a photographer, but I recognized her problem and the solution simply because I’ve read about it before. Maybe this person could use an assistant or such?” And so it was I obtained her e-mail address and fired off a message stating I’d like to chat with her if possible about a photographic opportunity. Alas, I never heard back from her. Until recently.
About five or so weeks ago my guy Alex phones me (you know it’s good when your camera store guy has your phone number) and asks if I remember J (name shortened to protect the innocent) because she’d like to talk to me. “Better late than never,” I think and get the phone number from him. Our conversation brings to light how she and another local photographer have joined forces to take team photos at an upcoming soccer event here in the Dayton, Ohio area. She wants to know if I’d be interested in being one of the on-site photographers.
Naturally I explained how I had never done that sort of thing at all (barely photographed people much less something important like this event) and I confess the meager money she was offering didn’t leave me feeling very interested. But I asked to think about it for a day or two and so I did my readers… so I did.
In the end I figured “Why not?” I mean… here was a chance to broaden my horizons and make a few dollars. Or so I thought.
First though I needed to obtain some equipment. Nothing outrageous, mind you, but some new batteries for the camera and flash unit as well as a folding chair to sit in for the day. If you have a dSLR you know that batteries are not cheap and I needed two (no place to recharge during the day), plus new rechargeables for the flash. In the end, half of what I made from the event went to cover the batteries and chair. Bummer.
So I didn’t bank a wad, but I learned stuff, right? No. Not really. The unfortunate aspect of this entire endeavor was that it didn’t really go as planned. The studios had anticipated a lot more work than actually materialized. I mean a lot more. I was led to believe I would be busy all day long for both Saturday and Sunday. Expectations were running high and we were pumped up as we arrived at our location on Saturday morning at 6:45a.m. Reality struck pretty quickly. Only one team had pre-registered from the night before and as the morning hours ticked away only two more teams signed up. Three teams for three photographers for an entire 12-hour day.
Sunday was no better.
I worked another location (closer to home, which was nice) by myself on Sunday and managed to photograph three teams. At least I was busier this time, but still…. the ladies running the show must have been horribly disappointed in the results (may have been a financial loss for them).
But the real question is: Did I walk away learning anything? And while the big answer is “no” the smaller answer is “maybe”. I photographed four teams over the weekend and I walked away with one distinct notion: girls are so much easier to photograph.
The boy teams were clearly not into having their pictures taken. After their respective games they wanted to go on and watch another match. Maybe one with other family members or friends. But the girls were a completely different story. They spent loads of time thinking up poses and trying different ones until they got the one they liked most. They egged each other on and encouraged each other to try something cooler than the girl before them. They were, in a nutshell, a pleasure and joy to both work with and photograph.
While the event itself was something of a bust I will confess the company was good. All the people I met and worked with over the course of the weekend were friendly, polite and helpful. Many folks were either family or friends of J and I must say her family and friends were truly great. I have zero complaints there.
I guess the big question is: Would I do it again? Well I don’t really know. I don’t know if I would have been happier if it had been busier. I may have been less bored, but I don’t know that I would have enjoyed it any more. The experience was, on the whole, okay, but it doesn’t readily come to mind as one of those “a-ha” moments in life (and I’m not referring to the Norwegian band here). It was an opportunity and I’m glad I took it, but I don’t know that I’m interested in repeating it.
All things considered…. I’d rather be out photographing dragonflies.