Getting out of my head

by Kate Djupe

I get very nervous when taking pictures of strangers for money. 

I learned a hard lesson about taking something that you love to do for yourself and making it into something you do for others on their dime. It took me several years to want to play with food after leaving the life of a professional cook. I don't want to feel unanchored again.

I think the difference between paid and hobby is in the expectations.

Nobody has them when I just show up on my own with a camera in hand. I choose what fills my viewfinder. I can play as much or as little as I want.  

Expectations exist when I am hired. 

This is what goes through my head every single time:

I remember that failure of a day when I tried to be a second shooter in a crazy situation with a dying camera.

I wonder how it would feel if someone submited my photos to 

I worry about the critics. The people that say "your camera takes nice shots."

That Facebook conversation I had with a jerk "professional" photographer that I held hands with in junior high. On his business's FB page, he argued that just because someone owns an expensive camera does not mean they have any right or ability to take away from his business. As he said, "Just because I own a few tools, doesn't mean that I should start charging people to frame their house or shingle their roof."


There is a similarly disparaging conversation constantly cycling about caterers versus "real chefs"; adobe creative suite tinkerers versus "real designers." (We, as a people, sure do like to play the better than/less than game.)

As I drive to meet a client, I wonder what makes someone a professional.

The answer is right there in the question, isn't it?  Being professional. Delivering a product, whether it be jpegs or a plate of food, that I am proud to put my name on.

When the nerves and doubt attack, I turn the camera away from the paying model and do what I do best: play. And later, in the safety of my own home, I can see the progression from a nervous person with an expensive camera to a photographer that knows a few things.

I'm reluctant to consider doing this full time for a variety of reasons - almost all are noted here. But the more "play" appears on my prep list, the more my confidence in being creative for other people increases. 

(These photos are a few of the stolen moments while on the job. There are more here. When I look at them, I don't always see perfection, but I can feel myself letting go of doubt.)