Monday, August 29, 2011

Prepare, But Be Ready for the Unexpected

When I am hired for an assignment, whether I'm hired by the University, a business, or a family, I mentally prepare by visualizing the types of images I might make and what the experience will be like. This doesn't mean the photographs I will take are set in stone, but it's just my way of prepping myself for what I might encounter (emphasis on the might). I imagine many photographers do this to some extent, as do people in other fields. Sometimes, I even go as far as sketching out my ideas. Other times I just visit the location in advance to think about options. 

I do this mental preparation with the understanding that there will still be "unknowns" and surprises. This is a good thing because it allows me to create images spontaneously. Somehow, this mental preparation for what I think I will encounter helps me better prepare for the unknowns. What do I do, then, when the situation I had mentally prepared for doesn't actually happen? This is when I rely partly on my experience and knowledge, but mostly I decide to be flexible and just go with the flow to capture the new situation.

I recently had this experience while on assignment. I had mentally prepared for a certain type of image-making but when circumstances prevented that from happening, the client asked if I would play the journalist role to capture the event as it was happening. My response? Sure! How did I mentally prepare for this? Well...there wasn't much advance mental preparation I could do for this. My job became keen observer. Watching, waiting, anticipating and absorbing what was happening around me.

How does mental preparation help in your work? Does this advance prep help, even if the situation is nothing like you had imagined? I'd love to hear your comments!

You can see more images from this assignment here.

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