PhotoChat; Photographer Stressors

PhotoChat is a weekly conversation between Photography Pro’s and Amateurs that takes place on Thursdays at 1PM EST hosted by Prime Social Marketing. To follow the conversation or take part use #Photochat on Twitter.

This blog post covers my longer answers to the questions that are condensed then put into tweets for the Photochat.

This Weeks Topic Is; Photographer Stressors 

Q1: Does your area of photography create significant stress when it comes to getting the perfect shot? How do you deal with it?

I mainly take Still Life and Landscape images, the only stress that feel is when I am working against time and light, especially with natural light. With studio lighting you can take as much time as you need with a Still Life image as the subject isn’t going to get bored or need to rest after several hours. There are some subjects that are time sensitive for example food but with planning this can become a less stressful experience. With landscape images you are always working against the light as it is fickle and won’t stay still for long at all. I have tackled storms and brilliant sunshine in the same day.


To reduce stress the best thing to do is to be prepared and prep as much as you can before your subject enters the frame. With Still Life shots, I sketch out ideas of images I am looking to get, I dress the scene and light it. This means when I place the subject in the scene I can shoot without too much stress.
With landscapes really you need to learn how to predict the light and weather. If you can do this you can compose and focus your image ready for the clouds and or the light hit the rights spot. I bracket my exposures to make sure I have got the shoot.

These practices work with other areas of photography I am sure. When I have been asked to shoot weddings I always prep by confirming what the bride wants (the bride I feel who is your main client because usually it is her word which is final), visit the church and locations at the similar time of day that the wedding will be to get the feel for the light and where the sun will be.
Last year there was one wedding where the bride and groom were standing with the sun to their back as the guest came out of the church. The guests formed a line to greet the new couple. Both I and the cameraman filming the wedding looked at each other with a knowing look. It was quite stressful as to manoeuvre around the line was difficult with no room to put the sun to my back. In the end I had to make the most of the bad situation.


Shooting into the sun is never fun.

That is the end message when it comes to calming stress. If something doesn’t go your way use what you are given to make a good image.

Q2: How do you handle a sticky situation when your equipment fails you on the job? How do you prepare for the worst?

With all technology there is a chance that it will fail. If equipment fails you need to roll with it and go with your backup. Second batteries charged, second lenses and second bodies, all help when you are stuck in a situation when your main equipment fails. The same with multiple memory cards all formatted and checked. Of course there could be a double failure or even a triple, though as long as you keep your gear clean and treat it well hopefully this will not happen.

A photobank, that you can download your images to on the go.

Something else I take in case of memory card problems is a hard dive that I can download the images to on location once the card is full. This is a neat piece of kit as it allows you to back up your pictures on the go. Has saved me a few times I can tell you

Q3: What is the absolute toughest part of being a photographer, and why?

I think the toughest part is not taking the pictures but promoting yourself. With the modern interconnect web we live I, it is important to keep up a social media profile, a blog, a website and organize images on 500px and Flickr for example. If you do stock work you also have to keep an eye on what is selling and what is not, seeing  what the next trends will be. It is at times like this that I like that I sit as an amateur and not a professional (in the sense that photography is not my fulltime job).

Q4: Do friends and family constantly expect you to document social events in your down time? Do you embrace it or shy away?

Logo created for my sister buisness

Logo created for my sister buisness

Friends and family know you are good and they want that level of work at a cut price or even free. Sometimes it is not a problem as I would be taking pictures there anyway, but I feel the role you have changes from being a guest at a party taking pictures to a photographer and of course the expectations of the image changes. These are no longer your candid snaps but the images for the event.

I had a similar problem with the old school I used to work at, where I was casually asked to take pictures of an event.  The pictures actually were for a promotional campaign for the school, with the images being used for posters, leaflets and the web, not just to document the event. If I knew this was the outcome my answer would have been different.

I feel you have to define the boundaries of what your friend or family member wants and what their expectations are. After several weddings, product shoots and portraits, it can be a good thing to do this work for your friends and family, as it is more content for your portfolio and you never know when you will need legal advice or your computer or car to be repaired in the future.

Are other people a source of stress, or the opposite? Clients, subjects, strangers, other photographers?

I find it annoying and then once those annoyances pile up it becomes stressful, when people look at every image and say “photoshopped”. Mainly because it modern photography every image has gone through Photoshop (or an image editor) and the term “photoshopped image” seems to be derogative to the image.

This stress does change how Id edit my work, in part due to the way winners of photo competitions have been attacked for photoshopping images by those who did not win. The outcome of these accusations has meant many photographers have had their titles stripped for small things like cloning out a plastic bag, a common practise as most of us clone out unwanted things from our images. Yes I would say that it is best to get everything right in the camera first but as we are human we do miss things.


Photoshopped image but does that detract from it.

Strangers’ critiques of images can also be stressful, especially when they are not aimed at the image but at you. I feel the best form of critique is positive critique, saying what you like, what you don’t like and what you would have done differently. This leaves open a chance for a conversation and learning experience between two photographers.

I am worried that there are parts of the photographic community that feel that smashing peoples work is a way to show their superior skill and ability. As a community we can learn from each other and in turn push the boundaries of photography.

I would love to know what your opinions to the questions are. Do you agree or disagree with my answers? Either way you can let me know using the comment box below.

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