“Sometimes all you need is one great photo to help you get your confidence back”
That’s what my colleague Meg said to me as we headed from the parking lot to the student union to cover the award ceremony for BU Today this evening. The Bette Davis Lifetime Achievement Award was being given to Michael Douglas, and the two of us were covering the event.
I was squawking on about feeling a lack of confidence in my work, and a lack of motivation as a result of feeling lack-luster in my abilities as a photographer.
It was then that I realized I’d left my telephoto lens back in the office. Insult to injury! Earlier in the day I’d taken the T into downtown Boston to shoot a portrait, and I’d left the long lens behind to lighten my load. Then I forgot to add it back in.
Meg went on ahead and I went back to get my lens with plenty of time to spare before the event began.
When I returned, I joined Meg in the main ballroom, which was set-up with a huge collection of quickly filling chairs for the ceremony. Meg and I went to a side room where a reception was taking place and immediately ran into Vita. We both met Vita while doing a story on the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center and she is a complete delight. I enjoyed her straight-forwardness immediately, and her subtle snark made me feel like we were kindred spirits.
I gave Vita a hug when I saw her and she quickly grabbed one of my hands and one of Meg’s hands, and began to lead us, with some serious purpose, to a small, separate auditorium at the back of the student union.
Meg and I started to buzz “What’s happening?”
“I don’t know!”
But we did know. We could see it coming just in the urgency of Vita’s steps. And then suddenly, unexpectedly, we were meeting, interviewing and photographing ACTING GREAT MICHAEL DOUGLAS!!!!!
He was very gracious, serious but friendly, and he sat in the auditorium seat and chatted with Meg while I shot photos of him. This was after he was assured that Meg and I were not media, but that we worked for BU. And when Meg was done with her questions (We were given a suprisingly substantial amount of time with him actually), I asked if I could take a quick posed portrait.
I looked right at Michael Douglas and he looked right at me and a I photographed him!
I am only now, two hours later, coming completely unglued about this turn of events, but in the moment, I was oddly unfazed.
We covered the event itself, and as Meg and I parted ways at its conclusion, I thought back on what she’d said earlier, “Sometimes all you need is one great photo to help you get your confidence back”
I am still confident that the important photo shoot I’d done with a researcher yesterday yielded very few good photos and that I will still be returning on Friday to rectify that, along with my creative director (the minute I’m told a shoot needs to have a certain “look” I lose all ability to shoot decent photos because the preconceived concept is floating in the back of my mind and I’m incapable to make the concept and the reality come together, but I digress…), but this evening made me feel a ton better about my abilities.
Driving home I thought, no, you’re just excited because you’re star struck and met a great actor! But no. See, I was expecting to photograph that man on stage, from the aisles, from a distance. Instead, I was brought to him with zero warning, introduced to him and given an opportunity to take his portrait. And you know what? I didn’t get fumble or waver. I assessed the environment, placed him where I knew it would work to shoot him, bounced the light off the wall to create a moody shot and you know what? I nailed those portraits. I know I did. Portraits I had no idea I would be shooting and had no time to prepare for.
I’m excited that I met Michael Douglas, but I’m also excited that I was reminded tonight that I’m actually pretty decent at what I do for a living.
That’s not a bad day at work!