Don't be fooled by the negative sound of the title, this is a positive blog. But I wanted to address one of the hard truths of the commercial photography industry.
A brief pops up in your inbox, and its from a client you have been gunning for, for months, years maybe. And you are already enjoying your new fame and counting your new fortune. You haven't even won the brief yet but you have been considered for it, and you feel like you have won.
Whats strange is even if you don't get the brief, you have won if you are being considered, the people that need to know about you, know about you, you're on the radar, and in the event that you lose the brief to someone else, you're one bad day in your competitors life away from having that job boomerang right back to you.
And lets be real bad days happen, much like life its how you respond in the bad days that define you. Like when you travel out of state to shoot a series of portraits on location, and one of your strobes suddenly starts misfiring from what you will later find is a hair line fracture in a flash tube. Now you can lay down and go full fetal, and hope everyone just disappears, or you can think well it is still firing 1 out every 4 shots as long as it still fires 25% of the time Ill have to shoot 75% more shots than I normally would to compensate, but if it please god keeps firing intermittently you'll come out the other side, no one will know how close you came to losing your cool and blowing the job. You will go home and feel like a rockstar because you got blindsided in the middle of the shoot and you worked your way through it, the solution might not have been pretty, but if your pictures were, that is all that matters.
But getting back to the briefs, be prepared to lose them. Be in it to win it, but you are going to lose some, maybe a lot, but if you are getting briefs from the people you want, your winning. Now if you are never winning a brief it may be worth looking into some of what you may be doing wrong, but if you are winning one every now again you are moving in the right direction, if you are getting more this year than you were the previous year, thats just gravy, and if you are winning all of them well then you must be on the gravy train with biscuit wheels, but I haven't met any other photographers thats haven't lost a few, and most lost lots.
The key is using briefs as a great opportunity to try something, to go out on a limb. Just this past weekend I lost a brief, it came in on friday afternoon and they wanted some sample shots by sunday night. It was exciting, and the brief was simple, do what you think represents and appeals to the demographic of the brand and they told me about a few specific shots in my folio that they liked.
I set out to shoot dramatic black and white images, and I went to a sporting angle, and tried to find a place where I could create some striking images, and where I might find some talent, I visited this spot twice, in the morning where it was young kids, and at dusk when the fun really started. I had some other ideas that I included in my pitch but these were the meat of it, and I thought it was gold.
It was a scramble to come up with the content but I wanted it so bad, I spent the weekend working on it and took some pictures I was really proud of, pictures that I would never have taken if I didn't get the opportunity to try and subsequently lose that brief.
Was I disappointed when I got the call that they were going with the other photographer. I was totally gutted, but looking at the images I took I am happy I took them, and now more people that I want to know about me know about me, and whoever won that brief, good luck......but don't mess up.