As professional creators we often take on jobs that might seem interesting on paper, but once you’re ankle deep in the slightly rushing waters of a three block long water slide for five and a half hours you begin to rethink what is and what isn’t worth your time. It is hard for me to turn down work because turning down work means turning down money. While in the process of rebuilding my client base and my brand I need to make as much money as possible, therefore I have been taking on some jobs that I normally would have turned down in time of prosperity.
The first job I took on that was outside of my norm and remains on the far end of what I am willing to do was to shoot the ceremony of a wedding. Weddings, since I began shooting video and photos have been an off limits gig for me by my own creation. I have zero desire to shoot a wedding and deal with the stress of ruining someone’s “perfect day.” Ironically my first paying gig about six years ago was a wedding for one of my mom’s friends and since then I have sworn them off. However, times have been tough so when the chance to make some quick easy money shooting only the ceremony and not doing anything “fancy” as the client requested popped up I jumped at the chance. The shoot was easy, but once I found myself in the edit I began to have this overwhelming feeling that I need to make this the best damn wedding video I can because of the stupid level of integrity I have placed on myself and my work. It didn’t take long for me to stop trying to be fancy and understand that not fancy was what the client wanted. I packaged it and sent it off and haven’t heard from them since. I was paid in advance so I assume not hearing anything is a good sign.
Next I took on some live broadcast type work for a friend of a friend. This was another type of gig I had only done once and sworn off. It turned out to be rather easy and I even made money renting some gear to the video team on top of my pay to shoot. This gig, that I would have normally turned down in times of prosperity, turned out to be a lot of fun and opened a door to greater possibilities. Had I remained stuck in my, “I’m only going to do X and will never do Y” attitude I might never have grown as a creator and learned about ways of shooting that I had long forgotten.
Finally, we come to the great slide disaster. This was a gig I took to pay a bill and since I had nothing booked I figured money is money let’s shoot. Now there are a few factors I failed to take into account when signing up for this gig, such as: Oklahoma’s blistering heat, standing in a water slide for five and a half hours, and the need to bring drinking water to survive the day. Time seemed to snail by about as slow as the sliders coming down the barely inclined slide. My feet were soaked and my skin was on fire. Unfortunately, I did not have a rain sleeve on my camera as the posting for the gig had said would be provided so getting myself completely wet to cool off wasn’t an option. Outside of the pains of being outside in Oklahoma the people I worked with were very cool and nice. They ended up bringing me water and snacks to keep me alive and I started to have a lot of fun seeing the smiling faces of people of all ages slide past me once everyone figured out the trick to speed. My day was cut short, and so was my pay, due to a thunderstorm that popped up. I can completely understand shutting it down early since I was standing up to my ankles in water as lightning struck all around us. In the end I learned more about how to shoot action photography, made a little money, and met some cool people. However, I don’t think I will be signing up again next year.
All in all, there are good and bad things to come out of every strange and out there gig we take. The key is to identify the good, the bad, and the ugly and make those lessons work in your favor. I will not shoot another wedding, I will shoot more broadcast events, and I may or may not shoot another action sports event involving water. But, as Justin Bieber says, “Never say never.”