Being a business owner is hard. It's easy to look around and think no one else is making mistakes or tripping over their own feet. Of course, no one wants to put their mistakes front and center for the world to see, so the idea that you are the only one messing up is so far from the truth, I promise. I get where those feelings come from and I'm here to put my biggest mistake on paper and share it with the world so you know that you're not the only one who's made mistakes.
I tell this story at almost all my workshop, it is so important for me to get those who I tach to know that I am no different than anyone else. I make mistakes too. Mistakes happen, we live and we learn. Sometimes those are hard lessons to learn, you know the ones. The ones where your heart drops to the floor when you realize what you've done and that there is no way to un do it or fix it. Sometimes those mistakes are tiny, sometimes big, and sometimes they could have completely been avoided. Regardless, mistakes happen, and it's often too late once they happen and the best thing we can do is learn from them.
So what did I do? Let me tell ya!
When I first got into photography, I had a client come over for me to photographer her sweet newborn baby. It was one of my sweetest clients ever and I was so excited to capture those first portraits for her baby girl.
Now if you've ever shot a newborn session, you know the amount of time you spend posing, sweating, shooting. Newborn sessions are so time-consuming and by the time it was done I felt as if I had just worked out for 4 hours straight. I was EXHAUSTED to say the least. I got the most perfect poses, and was so excited with how this newborn session went. It was one of those sessions where you just feel on top of the world, doing what you love, working with adorable babies. Life was good.
The newborn session was over and my client was getting her things ready, putting her baby girl in her car seat. We chatted some more and I walked over to my kitchen counter to take the card out of my camera. (play this next part out in slow motion, because that what it felt like) I popped open the side, that little black piece swung open and my heart dropped.
The slot was empty. No memory card! How did this happen!? I just shot the last 4 hours on a camera and didn't have a single picture.
I wanted to hide right then and there and pretend like this never happened. All too often you see photographers have issues with cards, and use high-end card recovery programs to get those images back. I couldn't even do that, I didn't even have a card in.
My first thought was to ask myself, how this even happened. I remember checking my images as I shot, seeing a preview of it pop up on my back screen for the last 4 hours, never once did I get a notification on no card being in the camera.
I felt terrible as I stood there knowing that the last 4 hours were for nothing. I looked over to my client, who was all packed up at this time and asked myself what to do. I could let her leave and then, later on, write her an email and offer a re-shoot and explain what happened. How embarrassing for me to do something like this. Or I could let her know right then and there and see if she would be ok in me redoing it before she left.
I bit the bullet and told her right then and there. I'm sure she saw it in my eyes of how terrible I felt and was so sweet about letting me start over.
The newborn session ended, I got everything I needed, this time with a card in my camera. The images turned out great, my client was happy in the end but this little moment was by far the biggest mistake I made as a photographer.
I think it was a hard lesson to learn, but I am so thankful that it happened with one of my sweetest clients during a newborn session and not at an event that doesn't offer the chance to a quick reshoot like during a wedding.
Three really important things I learned from this big mistake;
1. ALWAYS CHECK TO MAKE SURE THAT THE MEMORY CARD IS IN
You can bet that for every session, I check over and over again prior to shooting that I have a card in my camera.
2. I'LL NEVER MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN
The nice things about making mistakes is that once you had that heart dropping moment, you'll never forget it and it will make you better in the end. You can count that this mistake is one that will never happen again for me.
3. WHEN MISTAKES HAPPEN, DEAL WITH IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
I could have let my client leave that day, but I didn't. I was uncomfortable but knew what I had to do. It taught me to deal with my mistakes right then and there. In the end I was able to take care of my mistake and make it right as soon as possible.
Mistakes happen, to everyone. If you're ever feeling down about something you did, just think about this story and know you're not alone. The best thing you can do is learn and grow from it.