You know what these past (almost) three months have taught me? I mean, other than- *deep breath in*- how to take better pictures, how to make better edits, how to use better lighting, how to network, how to hustle, how to push myself in a way I never thought possible? I’ve also learned how easy it is to get stuck in a rut and how hard- but SO WORTH IT- it is to step outside my comfort zone and do something completely different. Because this photography thing? It’s all about finding what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes a shot just doesn’t work. Bad angle, harsh sunlight, whatever. But you don’t know unless you try, and that’s why we’re all here in this Internship to begin with. Being different is not a destination- it’s an ongoing process that you have to work at constantly. Otherwise, you’re just making the same photos as everyone else.
My rut, if you could even call it that, is that I like to shoot pretty stuff. I’m a girl in every clichéd sense of the word. (Well, almost. I may love shoes, run from spiders, and be powerless against a smoldering glance from Ryan Gosling, but I also love scary movies, beer, and playing video games into the night.) I take photos of weddings. Cupcakes. Ballerinas. Which are all challenges on their own and things that I happen to love to shoot. But to improve- REALLY IMPROVE- I need to push myself outside of my comfort zone. And um, says the girl who wears perfume to the grocery store, a boxing gym is pretty far outside the zone as far as I’m concerned.
The Hardcore Gym in Athens is actually a lot more than just a boxing gym. They’re a full MMA gym that’s turned out UFC champions and is basically heaven on Earth to practically every man I know. Sweat, fighting, letting out aggression, having the sacred Man Time. While I don’t pretend to understand the ancient Man Code, I do understand that it’s important. Go forth and have Man Time.
They’re also run by an awesome group of guys that have been nothing but awesome to me: helpful, accommodating, and totally up for a complete stranger coming into their gym and shooting during classes and sparring sessions and even one of the programs they run for children. (Seriously. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts for kids? I told you they were awesome.)
My initial instinct, when the adult sparring sessions began, was to hang back… you know, out of the way, where I wouldn’t possibly be elbowed in the face? But then I realized, “Hey. When I shoot weddings, I’m right there on the dance floor with everyone else. What’s the difference?” And really, besides the fact that here, people were in less clothes and um, FIGHTING EACH OTHER, there wasn’t really a difference. You have to be in the middle of the action if you expect to walk away with anything worth looking at, so I kicked off my shoes and got a little closer. (By the way- I shot this whole thing in Prime- hi, my name is Krista and I’m quicky becoming a Prime Lens Snob.- so I wasn’t zooming. I was really this close. Yikes. But also, CRAZY AND SO FUN.)
Now, I could take advantage of my habit of writing these blogs late at night, red-eyed and with Spotify and Pandora to keep me company while the rest of my house sleeps, and turn this whole thing into a “photography is a lot like Fight Club” metaphor. (Sleep deprivation and too much red wine can do that to you sometimes: make you feel deliriously creative and too clever for your own good.) Don’t worry. I won’t do it.
Instead, I’ll come away from this shoot happy with how I did. This was just so different for me, and I’ll admit it, I was certainly intimidated when I walked in. But this was actually sort of like a wedding because, besides being forced to throw myself into the action to do my job, I was mostly there to capture what was going on around me, not to pose people: “Okay, chin down. Eyes at me.” It’s my favorite way to shoot.