Disclaimer: This week’s blog post may or may not take a personal turn. (It will.)
I know what I want. I know what level I want my photography to be at, I know the experiences that I want to have, I know what types of jobs I want, and I know the person I want to be. Only one thing is holding me back. Myself.
This semester, I’m taking Fundamentals of Photojournalism, the first class in my Photoj sequence. I love it. I love the teacher and the assignments. I love the critiques and the knowledge. But I don’t love that I’m constantly comparing myself to others. I know we all have varying degrees of experience and photo background (mine being minimal), but it’s still hard to see the phenomenal photos made by peers when your own work does not meet your personal expectations.
This past week, we were given our Sports Action and Feature assignment. Basically, I have to go out and capture two amazing moments in sports. The thought was terrifying. Yes, I’ve played every sport so I know how they work. No, I’ve never tried to shoot them (other than high school yearbook, but that doesn’t count).
We had an awesome Sports Photog come in and talk to our class about his experiences (and he brought us candy, so basically I love him). His photography was beautiful and all I wanted was to be at his level. But I’m not.
I’d planned to check out some equipment this weekend from the photo locker, but alas, all the gear was snagged by the time I’d arrived Friday afternoon. That meant I had to shoot with my D7000 and telephoto 55-300mm F/4.5-5.6. NOT ideal, but still decent.
Fortunately, God shined down on me Friday by providing beautiful weather. It brightened my rainy attitude.
I went with a friend a high school track meet and spent an hour or so in the sun, watching fit people be fit, while I was making photos and what not. I wasn’t taking this shoot too seriously because I was planning on shooting tennis later. I was really excited about tennis.
At 5 p.m., I made my way to the tennis courts, confident and ready for the evening. Little did I know that I was EXTREMELY unprepared.
I’d shot tennis before (kind of) in high school. I played for one season so I knew what was going on and what to look out for. Unfortunately, my camera didn’t agree. I shot and shot and shot. I stayed for two hours, talking to a few of my photog friends between matches. A few minutes in, I came to the sickening realization that I had the most amateur equipment (other than an uncle I’d befriended using an iPhone) out there. I had no idea what I was doing. The worst part was that I was too embarrassed to ask for help. I had a bad case of Short Lens Syndrome. The Sports Photog from my class was even there and I could have easily asked for his assistance, but I didn’t want anyone to think I was incompetent. Seriously, Ellise? What is wrong with you?
I decided to leave before the end because I was so frustrated with myself and I’d already promised a friend a ride, but I was sick to my stomach.
I reviewed some of my photos once I got back to my room, but they were precisely as I’d imagined. Not anywhere near where I thought they should be.
“What am I doing here?” I thought over and over. “Why am I even pursuing photography?”
I feel like this happens to me weekly now. I panic about the future. I’m sure that’s pretty common of college students, but it’s extremely disorienting for me. I know what I want, but I question my aptitude.
I feel so natural with a camera. I love talking to people and learning their stories. I love moments and emotion. I know this is what I want to do. I know that just because I’m painfully subpar at this point doesn’t mean I won’t improve in the future. I know that I won’t be good at everything in photojournalism. I just hope that someday, I will be the journalist and person I want to be.