She walked on stage, taking her place on a too-high stool and I saw it. Flyaways. Not just any flyaways. Her fringe had parted leaving a piece sticking straight up. STRAIGHT UP. I clenched the can of aero-gel in my hand but it was too late. We were live. I couldn’t yell, “stepping in” and fix my mistake. The cameras were rolling and there were no second chances. I sat back and watched what would’ve otherwise have been an enlightening interview but I was transfixed on that piece of hair. Surely my career, and probably my life were over.
In the beginning particularly while I was building my portfolio, clients or talent would get out of my chair and I would think, “I wish I had a redo.” It wasn’t just during moments of big slip ups either. Days after shoots I would see images of my work and tear it apart. It took me ages to build a portfolio because I trashed everything. I had an amazing ability to find fault in anything from the smallest eyebrow hair to the slightest shadow crease.
If, from time to time, you feel like you’ve come down with an over active case of the crazies, I have some advice. While I still have the tendency to ignore any merit in my work, I have learnt to relax. Whenever I think I have failed myself, the entire production crew and possibly the world, I stop. Take a breath and reassess. I will always by my own worst critic. But at least I’ve learnt to build a bridge between being critical and being realistic.
First things first, consider the situation, If you’re seeing the proofs from a photo shoot you’re in luck. The magic of editing might be able to save you. You should never rely on it but appreciate its existence when needed. If an error occurred at a live event, well photoshop can’t save you. But before you end it all, consider this; your client, whether a bride or talent, got out of your chair seeing exactly what you did. Chances are, the negative thing you are fixated on is not something that means as much to them. Of course, you should strive for perfection but you also have to let go and realise a misplaced bobby pin doesn’t make the memories. The bulk of my job has less to do with perfection and more to do with confidence; confidence which exists in spite of flyaways.
Part of being realistic is realising that some things are out of your control. Following a final spray of aero-gel, you have little say over your client putting her hair behind her ears out of habit. And some people, despite countless warning, can’t keep their fingers away from their face; lipstick be damned. You can’t beat yourself up over these things and you have to believe that your clients won’t either. You are, after all, working with humans; habitually imperfect beings.
Keep in mind, not all mistakes are bad. You can easily find the silver lining in most errors. After all my world didn’t crumble around me following the great hair spray disaster of 20-10 and you can bet that I won’t make that mistake again. Every time I’ve done something that made me cringe, whether a case of being neurotic or not, I’ve gotten better at my job. Lets not get it twisted. Don’t run around making mistakes to see what lessons and epiphanies come from it. But remember to relax, accept what happens and get it right the next time ‘round.