Kids seem to always go hand in hand with major life-threatening, heart stopping anxiety. Hold on, before you start making calls to the authorities about the title of this article, let’s not get carried away. I’m talking about shooting kids with cameras and as much as many of the little bastards deserved to be shot with something else, none of that ever took place. Now that we have that cleared up, back to my point-anxiety-it’s a killer.
I used to photograph massive sports leagues at soccer fields, YMCA’s and other locations where we would bring together about 3 to 15 independent contractors and a 10×10 storage unit full of equipment including tents that all had the potential to fly, maim, kill, and injure anyone who found himself on the wrong side of a strong wind gust. On top of that, I would constantly struggle with hungover subcontractors who might or might not show up depending on how the blonde waitress at the bar responded to their not-so-clever offers to take “Modeling Portfolio” pictures of her for free with my loaned equipment.
Forget the worries about wanna-be photographers who don’t own their own equipment absconding with the cameras I needed for the 5000 kid soccer league I needed to shoot between 6AM and noon, or the awful thought of little Katy being beaned over the head with any number of heavy, sharp objects blowing around when one of my tents took off with the breeze, I had worse things to worry about-the parents of these kids.
Soccer moms can be some of the nicest, and some of the meanest people you will ever meet. I personally, would rather get between a grizzly bear mom and her cubs while walking naked with by nuts dripping with honey than get on the wrong side of some of these women. Needless to say there were many challenges to deal with, and for the first 5 years I slept fitfully, waking every 15 minutes or so, staring at the alarm clock, wondering if I had remembered to pack batteries, or change, or CF cards, or a million other things whose absence could throw the entire day into chaos.
Many times I would arrive at the locations at dawn on Saturday morning, the weather would cooperate, the equipment and photographers would arrive and the event would go off without a hitch. Then there were the other days when the wind would howl, people and equipment would be missing, and screaming parents and crying children would rip me and my staff a new crap-hole. In all I probably “Shot” more than a half a million kids in my 7 years of service. I can say that no matter how much preparation and planning went into each job, there were always moments of total paralysis when the anxious blood coursed through my head like a lava flow at the realization that one of the photographers had been shooting on Manual with the Aperture set to make each kid look like daylight itself.
Getting over this feeling takes time. There’s no shortcut to dealing with it. If you were looking for one, you probably are really disappointed right now! The only way to get past whatever makes you anxious is to face your fears and do it and keep doing it and keep doing it. Eventually, with time, you will see that everything you were afraid of will probably happen. You will be shocked to find that you don’t spontaneously combust when the worst case scenario happens. Over time you either get more comfortable with your fears and life gets supremely better.
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