When Things Go Wrong:
Corey Rich on Learning From Your Mistakes
A mistake frame from a cover shoot with Kelly Slater and Jack Johnson. Used with permission from Corey Rich.
Beginning your career as a photographer can be a mix of feelings. There’s plenty of excitement, freedom, and positive energy. But there’s also the other stuff – the uncertainty, self-doubt, and fear. At some point in our careers, especially in the early stages, we’ve all asked ourselves, “Am I good enough?” Underneath the sense of excitement that comes from booking a ‘dream client’, or shooting a beautiful sunset often lies an overactive brain programmed to torment us. It whispers,
“Can I do a shoot like this? Will people like it? Will I ever get hired again? Will EVERY editor in the world know about how bad this went? Is the Starbucks on the corner still hiring?”
These questions will eventually pass through everyone’s mind at some point, and it isn’t always a bad thing. At the end of the Summit workshops, we host an open forum where students and instructors can chat about the future of photography, business practices, and perhaps most importantly, seek advice. In every discussion, our instructors are asked how they have dealt with fear and failure. The answer is usually unanimous – that feeling of fear and messing up never really leaves, but what makes a professional succeed is the ability to shrug it off and channel it into motivation.
During one seminar, a student asked National Geographic photographer Charlie Hamilton James, “What does it feel like to be on assignment for Nat Geo?” Charlie, after laughing a bit, responded that a two-week assignment was a two-week test in trying not to feel sick from worry the entire time. Nikon Ambassador Dave Black answered a similar question by saying that a small amount of worry is what drives him to scout every shoot, plan ahead, ask for advice, and in short, to do everything possible to ensure success.
The lesson from these answers? Don’t let worry stop you. Realize that it’s always going to be there and that the right mindset, even if things go wrong, can lead you towards perfection and a rewarding career.
We loved Corey Rich’s reflection about one shoot that didn’t go well. With Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and Kelly Slater in the room for a cover shoot, there wasn’t much room for error. But things didn’t go as planned…