I think most of us would like to think that it would be a better world without exams, and yet we all know they are necessary and good. So, what do I mean by exams? I guess I could say performance or recital or final or test or deadline or competition or game or goal. We need to have things in our life that point us towards a milestone or particular point. Without these exams, we seem to lack the urgency to get something done. We tend to drag things on and not quite get to the point of completion. With a pending exam date, we push ourselves or are pushed towards something. We know there is a point where we have to show what we know or can do.
Well, a month or so ago, I was asked to take wedding pictures for a friend. I was quite nervous about the whole thing and told them that I was neither experienced nor totally comfortable doing this. They said that their expectations were not high; otherwise they could hire a professional to do the work. However, they did not want me to do it if it would stress me out. I told them that being uncomfortable doing something is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps one grow. So, I agreed to do it. I was doing it for the experience and to help out friends.
Well, for about a month before the big day, I studied YouTube videos talking about wedding photography, so I would have a few insights. I also studied about flash photography, since I would need to do this and have really never used a flash in my photography work before. I studied all the wedding related poses I could find on the Web, because I am just not so creative with my poses and needed a lot of ideas. Almost on a daily basis, I was doing something to prepare as much as I could. I even had sample pictures and videos on my iPad, so I could keep studying the material during my lunch break at work and anytime I had a free moment. I thought of this like a class at college where I was studying towards the final and hoping I would be able to remember all the stuff I had learned. I guess a big difference is that no one directly was helping me learn the material, but I was also didn’t need to pay tuition.
Well, the wedding day arrived and I still did not feel all the way ready, kind of how you feel when you wish you had more time to prepare a for a final exam, but the day had arrived and ready or not, I would need to do what I was asked to do. Well, because the expectations were not high, I was more than prepared for what they wanted. This was fine with me because I wanted to use this event as a learning experience and to push myself to do as much as I could get out of myself, and things mostly turned out OK. I did have a problem caused by some tricky indoor lighting, but I really couldn’t have known how to prepare for this – I do now. Overall, I think I pulled it off. Maybe not an A grade, but hopefully a B.
Anyway, the event was my exam and because I had this, I have learned a huge amount about wedding and flash photography. I still have a lot to learn, but I am a lot further along now. I have done several shoots over the years and none of them turn out perfect, but I learn so much with each shoot, or should I say exam, so I reiterate my opinion that we need exams.