Monday, March 11, 2013

Stepping Outside of My Comfort Zone

A couple of weeks ago, my college roommate sent me an e-mail. This is not unusual. But, the contents of the e-mail? Different than the norm. The gist was, "Hey, my husband's best friend is getting married. He and his bride, who are lovely, were going to elope, but every one's convinced them to have a proper wedding. But, they are paying for it themselves. So, they do not have much money to fork out on extras.  Would you take pictures of their wedding?"

Now, I was THE black-and-white 35mm single-lens reflex girl in high school and college. That Pentax? Was perma-fixed to my neck. But then... Digital.  It made my (gasp) film camera obsolete. And then, I had kids. Digital facilitated easy uploads for out-of-state grandparents. Point-and-shoot, memory captured, uploaded to an online picture-sharing software, DONE. No fancy depth-of-field fun or anything like that, but hey, whaddya gonna do?  Convenience trumps artistry.

This all means:  the composition, lighting, aperture, shutter speed muscle that had been fairly 'roided in my formative years?  Flabby. Weak. Spongy. But so was the rest of myself, and I took care of that over the past 10 months, now DIDN'T I?  So, I thought, why not?

I have entered some kind of weird year of saying yes to things that 2012 me would've refused, lickety-split. the 2012 me would've thought, "My participation can only wreck this situation. I should graciously refuse."

2013 me? Who has accomplished the twin goals of getting published* and losing some tonnage? The 2013 me cannot be stopped.

So, I said yes. And then I bought a used digital SLR. And a fancy flash. and I read the manual, did a little forum-stalking on using the digital SLR, and subjected my kids to a Princess Kate Middleton-level of paparazzi photo-stalking. 

Then I went to the wedding.

I was outside of my comfort zone at the start, for sure. I am an introverted people-pleaser. So, forcing complete strangers into semi-candid shots? I had to put on my big-girl pants and MAKE IT HAPPEN. 'Cause if I didn't? This bride would not have the memories of her Big Day that she (didn't even know she) wanted.

Here's the thing, though: the ka-tunk of the SLR? Totally comforting. Welcoming.  A re-introduction to an old friend, like I expect to have some day in a darkened bar whilst consuming an amber-colored beverage. After a few minutes with that solid, mechanical, obedient tool in my hand, I was in control, in my element. I really, really enjoyed it.

Cut to the end of the evening, back in my hotel room.  I looked over the hundreds of shots, and was worried that I hadn't gotten everything that I should.  I tweaked, I sharpened, I brightened, I lamented the things that I missed because of unfamiliarity with my apparatus, unfortunate back-lighting, or inexperience. Things I should've asked them to do, but didn't.


I finished my PhotoShop fu, uploaded the pix to a professional-grade site where the bride and groom could order copies, and sent it out last night. I haven't heard back from the bride yet. I was nervous that she didn't find a usable pic in the bunch.  So, I Facebooked her in a shadowy fashion.  Am I proud of that?  No, but I'm not un-proud of it, either.  And you know what?  

She took one of the pics that I SHOT and posted it to her Facebook page.  Within an hour of me sending it to her.  The comments?  I know they are from her friends, so they are OBVIOUSLY going to be friendly.  But, they say, "Gorgeous photo!" "Beautiful pic!" "Looks like something out of a magazine!" "That is about the best smile I've ever seen!"

The bride is, in fact, gorgeous. And the groom? Quite dashing. And me? I am so honored, and grateful, that I got to capture it. I only hope I did them a good turn and gave them some pictures that will last a lifetime.

*Did I tell you?  My place of business solicited some original kids' tales from among the folks who worked for them.  I wrote six, SIX, pre-school-appropriate short stories and the BOUGHT THEM ALL! 

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