Gaining Experience

If you hang around me for any length of time you are going to hear my favorite quote, "experience is what you gain the moment after you don't need it". It is one of my go to phrases and I probably say it so much that my friends are sick of it. I don't know where the phrase came from, but as I was writing this I looked it up on Google and got a similar quote from the comedian Steven Wright, "Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it". I don't recall ever hearing Steven Wright say it, but it's close enough that I will attribute it to him.

So What Does It Mean?

I like this phrase because it can be interpreted in many different ways. It can embody the slogan of my alma mater Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, "Learn by Doing", it can also represent the old adage that we learn from our mistakes. The key point to it is that you need to take action in order to learn, and to gain that experience. You can memorize books, study the works of the great masters of photography, but until you actually take the camera in your hand and take a photo you will not be an experienced photographer.

Procrastination and Fear

I have written recently about how I'm afraid to schedule photo shoots. I postpone, I procrastinate, and I wait until the conditions are right. As I wrote, some of this is because of fear of failure but there is another type of fear that keeps me from scheduling a shoot and that is fear of the unknown. I often don't know how I am going to get the shot I have in my mind's eye. I don't know what I'm doing, I look around at the clients, models, and make up artists and wonder if they can see that I don't have a clue. But I power through it, I take some shots, I make some adjustments and 9 times out of 10 I get the shot I wanted. I didn't know what I was doing, but now I do. I'm now experienced and know what to do the next time.

Life is just a series of experiences strung together

Life is just a series of experiences strung together, so we should have as many experiences as possible. This is probably my second most used phrase. To me it means Carpe Diem, try new things, confront your fears, take bold photos, and create Epic shit! Jump into new experiences and you will become an experienced person. Try new experiences with your photography and you will become an experienced photographer!
So tell me about your new experiences in the comments below!

My Photography Fear

It has been a long time (months) since I have scheduled a photo shoot. I feel like I have been really creative lately and have written down a lot of great ideas but I just can't seem to pull the trigger. It bothered me, why wasn't I going and shooting these great concepts I was coming up with? One reason, FEAR!


I'm Afraid to Schedule a Photo Shoot

As my shoot concepts get larger and more complex, fear starts creeping in. I am constantly afraid that I am going to spend all this time planning a shoot and that I'm not going to be able to pull it off. This fear of failure is pervasive and happens at every shoot. After all of the planning and sometime weeks of preparation, the fear that I will come away with nothing useful from the shoot paralyzes me and causes me to put off the shoot.
There is a valid reason for this fear of failure. I have failed before. I have had several shoots were I got a shoot, but am unhappy with the result. The ones that come to mind are the Mermaid playing chess, and the girl dining in the river.
 Mermaid Chess
Dinner in the River 
The concept was great but the I failed the execution. I do use these as learning experiences, but the fear of creating yet another "learning experience" often prevents me from working on my next big shoot idea.
I stupidly tell myself you can't fail if you don't try. But not trying is just another type of failure.

My Solution

I don't have one. Just plow through it. It helps to realize that a lot of my paralysis is caused by fear of failure. I just have to do my best, plan as best as I can, and then go do it. I might fail, or I might come back with the best photograph I have ever taken! I won't know sitting here at my computer.
So I've just scheduled 2 large concept shoots over the next 3 weeks. I still have a lot of planning to do and recruiting of assistants and models, but they are on the calender and going to happen. I'm not going to fail from lack of trying.

How Do You Overcome Your Fear of Failure?