Now and then I meet a photographer at a conference or online, and I'm amazed at the potential paralysis over making a mistake. The pure fear of worrying about so many aspects of their business from capture right through to marketing sends them into their own "No Fly Zone."
We all make mistakes. They can't be avoided. Depending on what you do with them, they can stunt your growth as an artist or just the opposite, create a growth spurt. It's all in how you look at the mistakes and if you choose to learn from them. Norman Vincent Peale wrote:
"Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make them strong."
Scott Bourne wrote the following post a while back about making mistakes and as we leave the slow season, and business starts to pick up again, it's the perfect time to share it once more. While a couple of points have been updated by new technology and now auto-reset, it's still a great list to review and develop a habit of how you shut down after each shoot and make sure you're in good shape for the next one!
No matter how seasoned you are, the pressure of business, the economy and new technology all change the game, and suddenly you find yourself buried in mistakes you never used to make. Scott's put together a solid check-off list for cutting out one critical variable in your life, mistakes with your gear.
No matter how experienced, we all make mistakes. Sometimes we go out to shoot and nothing works. We’ve forgotten to reset the ISO from 3200 (shot the basketball game last night) to 200 (for the landscape shots at Mt. Rainier.) Or sometimes that odd custom white balance we set at the art museum gets saved and used for the next wedding. Oops.
Whatever the mistake, mistakes have a way of cascading. And it’s easy to get frustrated to the point where you simply can’t do anything right. When you reach this point it’s time to give up and start over – “reset,” as Joe McNally says.
To do this, you need to establish a baseline for your gear. Here’s my baseline. Your situation may be different, but this works for me...
1. Camera bodies off
2. Camera batteries recharged after each and every shoot – no exceptions
3. Flash(es) off
4. Flash(es) batteries recharged after each and every shoot – no exceptions
5. Set ISO to 200
6. Set aperture to wide open on all lenses
7. Set shutter speed to 1/125
8. Set mode dial to Aperture Priority
9. Turn off IS/VR on all stabilized lenses
10. Set all lenses with focus stops to focus maximum area of focus
11. Remove any and all filters
12. Check that the camera body and any/all lenses are set to autofocus (unless you just always use manual focus – in which case disregard.)
13. Set white balance to AUTO
14. Set exposure compensation to “0.”
15. Reset the focus point to the center.
16. Set motor drive to high speed advance
17. Make sure mirror lockup is disabled
18. Make sure to run camera’s auto sensor cleaning after each shoot, no exceptions
19. Do quick visual examination of the camera to look for damage defects
20. Reset additional gear like tripods, light stands, etc.
After bringing everything back to default condition, you can take a deep breath, find your subject, and start building the next shot knowing you’ve done all you can to be ready.
Remember, we all make mistakes. Even the pros. It doesn’t mean a thing. Fix it, reset, reshoot, repeat. You’ll be fine.