This is one of the better shots from the first shoot

When I walked into a photo studio for the first time I had a very clear idea of what I wanted. I could see each image in my head gracing the cover of some yet to be named magazine. I set up the 3 strobes on full blast (not the best choice), laid out the 400 dollars worth of props that I bought in front of a black background and fired away.

It was a little more than a disaster. I took over 1500 photos that day and got around 10 usable shots, all of them happy accidents. Not one picture was a shot that I meticulously planned out in my head beforehand.

It’s these moments that are the hardest in any sort of passion that’s worth following. All of this time, money, blood, sweat and tears go into a project that misses the target. Yes, it’s disappointing, and it can damage the soul a litte. The thing is this: a little damage to the soul is good because, if you make it through, the soul comes back stronger and healthier.

I’ve always believed that a true calling will require exactly 10% more time and energy than I have to give. It will require me to push myself beyond what I thought was possible and go places in my mind that I didn’t know existed. It will also require me to take a couple of soul bruises  Most of all, a calling will have me reach for perfection- something I won’t ever achieve- in the process of growing and learning.

I’ve done a lot since that first shoot. I’ve learned more about lighting, directing the models, Photoshop and how to pick the right studio. I also achieved a healthy distain for boring shots in front of a white background. The point is this: I’m in a place where I’m taking the pictures that I planned and capturing the stories that I want to tell.

Even though I’ve progressed a since that first shoot, I keep going back to that day, when I didn’t know anything. That first shoot was pure passion. Even though I missed the mark on the final product, remembering the way I felt behind a camera that day drives me to continue to push myself to be better.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that every photo is of a subject, but in that subject, in that moment, I find myself, 1/400th of a second at a time.

In a way, that first shoot might be the closest I’ll ever feel to the perfection I know I can’t have making it the most important shoot of my career.