Shooting After a Long Break

I had a shoot with a model recently with the previous shoot being ten months earlier. It was fortunate that the model I shot was someone I’ve known for years because I think anyone else would’ve thrown something at me. If she had thrown a coffee pot, I couldn’t have blamed her. Unless the pot was full because that’s just wasteful.

So here’s a pro tip: If you decide to do a photo session with a model after months of not shooting, it’s going to be worth your time to pick up the camera maybe a week before your actual shoot. Why?

As I settled into my first shot in our first set, I discovered that all of my camera settings were reset to factory defaults.

In the long span of time between shoots, I mostly spent that time re-editing photos from years past, taking the occasional random shot of some fragment of life here and there. So I kept the battery out of the camera for the most part and at some point during that last stretch, the settings reverted to their factory settings. Maybe something else caused it but regardless, having a few days before the shoot to uncover that would’ve been better than being surprised and fiddling with the settings during the shoot.

Shoots are one thing that usually run very smoothly for me. Yes, there are always variables that need adjusting (like lighting) but once I’m shooting, I’m pretty much in that moment. And I might find myself particularly in the zone if all of the stars have aligned. Naturally, I like to have everything in order before I shoot, otherwise I’m mentally pulled away from the moment. And the model is too, waiting for me to get my shit together. It breaks the flow. So fooling with settings during this latest shoot was a huge distraction for me.

And really, I rarely change my camera settings. I can’t imagine anyone doing it regularly but I don’t know. For me, once my main menu settings are in, I’m pretty good. I’m not talking about shot settings (ISO/aperture/shutter speed) but things like focus grid size, color space, shutter volume, frames per second, and so on. Settings that you just normally don’t use on a day to day basis. So to have to navigate through a menu you rarely touch during a shoot is a pain.

But More Importantly

The other, and probably more important, reason to pick up your camera before your scheduled shoot is because it helps get your head back into the game. Again, maybe this is just me since I was seriously on the fence for a while about whether I would even keep shooting. But had I picked up my camera at any point during the week prior (to shoot anything at all), it might’ve helped me. I actually found that not having shot for so long, I was a little freer in my thinking about how to shoot. And if I had some time beforehand to explore that, the shoot could’ve been a little more than it was. As it was, I was just shooting how I remembered how to shoot, phoning it in as the people from an older generation might say.

Even with this, my rough re-entry to shooting, I’m still pleased with the results. A lot of it could’ve been executed better but honestly, taking that long of a break and then doing this shoot has helped to move me a little farther on a path I’ve been traveling. My mental space shifted long ago about what I’m doing and where I’m going and the disconnect (and overlap) of the two. This shoot helped me evaluate how the technical side of shooting factors into that equation.

So good things, good things. That’s the takeaway. But by sheer luck.

(The featured photo is from the first set we shot. Of course it’s the couch. What? Did you think it would be something other than the couch?)

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