Jasmine Star is a bride turned wedding photographer from southern CA. Creative photographer, and talented blogger, Jasmine takes part in this “Pro: You” series of lessons learned from before success blossomed. DPS thanks Jasmine for the time she invested interviewing for this story.
It was five months since she officially begun diving into the wedding photography business as a second shooter. She learned many lessons along the way. She knew this is what she wanted to do. And now, she was about to take her progress to the next level.
“This is it.” She rolled over in her bed, tossing and turning again. She couldn’t sleep. Her brain was fixed on the incredible opportunity that has presented itself to her. Tomorrow, the testing of her skills would officially begin. It was her time to shine. She was not “proud”, but she knew that she would get “those shots” that no one else had captured before. She was going to prove that she could be in this business and she would rock the world.
In the morning, she cycled through her thoughts before heading out:
- Professional outfit [which she choose the previous night]
- Camera bag packed [with just cleaned equipment]
- Batteries charged [for both camera and lights]
- Lights [handy 580 EX speedlights]
- Aperture Priority set [her best shooting friend]
- Mental Shot List
As she drove, she tried to get herself into the zone but it seems that the harder she tried to focus, the more her mind turned into molasses. She met up with “The Photographer” whom she admired and respected to discuss assignments. Before she even began shooting the Bridal preparations she was sweating bullets. She tried to pull out creativity, but instead, felt completely blank.
And then, the nightmare of wedding photographer nightmares took place: Her camera wigged out. She didn’t know what happened. She didn’t know what’s wrong. But even worse, she didn’t know how to fix it. She tried to calm herself, deciding to fake it till she made it. In the pit of her stomach, she knew that there was no way that philosophy is going to work. But what other choice did she have?
She met up with “The Photographer” and hoped that she wasn’t showing the panicked desperation. “The Photographer” hands out the ceremony assignments. “You take the groom, I’ll take the bride…” She heard the first few words and blink. “Okay, right, yeah…” She paused, not sure if she really wanted to ask the question. “But what are you shooting on? I mean, what are you exposing for?”
“The Photographer” looked at her in a long pause, then finally sighed.”Manual, ISO 400, Shutter speed 50, Aperture 2.8. Okay? Let’s go.” The instructions may have as well been in Farsi. Her brain wasn’t translating. She took another deep breath. “Okay. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.”
But it was too late for that. The tension was building. She felt so completely screwed. She wanted nothing more than to disappear. Run away. But she knew that was not an option. She gathered herself feebly. “Just shoot first. Fix later.”
She didn’t change her settings. Not once through the ceremony. Not through the reception. She continued to stick to her creed: “shoot first and fix later”. It was her only solution. “Maybe it won’t’be so bad after all.” She thought it may work. But then “The Photographer” turned to her. “When the wedding is over, we’ll head back. On the way and you can upload your images to my laptop as we drive.”
This is the worst case scenario. Her only hope was a miracle. The Bible said God did miracles right? “God, please just let something happen to the cards…make them empty or, better yet, make the pictures just perfect! It could happen right?”
It doesn’t. She left “The Photographer” with an undeserved check in hand. The emotions were raging. Her performance was horrible. Her images were awful. After some tears she decided to let the pictures rest a night. But the images were just as bad as she thought. She cried the next day when she looked through the pictures. They really were awful.
In those moments, her dreams of being a professional wedding photographer gave away. She decided not to shoot anymore. She knew that no one would trust her after this episode. Even worse, she didn’t think she could trust herself. She turned to her spouse. “I quit.” She managed through a shaky voice. “I’m giving up.”
She received a compassionate look and a kind word. “If this is what you really want, you can’t just give up. You have to figure out what went wrong and fix it so that it doesn’t happen again.”
The words echoed through her mind and she realized something: She had the details, she had the opportunity, she had the gear, and she had the desire. When the rubber met the road, she wasn’t good enough – yet. But that didn’t mean she could never be there.
That humiliating experience turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to her. The lessons carried with her for the rest of her shooting career. Now she encourages others with those lessons:
- You can’t let one bad experience determine your passion
- It’s okay to ask questions, even if it is humbling.
- If you have a dream, you must be willing to work through all the challenges you will face with courage.
- If you want to be a pro, you have to do the “Pro Way” – like knowing your camera as well as you know yourself.
- You have to learn from your mistakes so you can grow through them.
And who would have thought that such an experience could have shaped Jasmine Star into the Pro she is today?
Thanks again to Jasmine Star for her time in putting together this story.