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An Injured Photographer

Washington DC Wedding Photographer | Stephen Gosling Photography

I don’t often blog about personal things.  I blog travel photos from places I go and visit.  I blog about my dogs (an Adler update post is coming soon).  And that is about it.  I like to keep my work-life and personal-life mostly separate.  I hope you’re okay with that.  But I have a little personal-life post for you because it affects my work/photo-life and I think it is kind of a teaching moment.  If you’re bored already just bug-out here, no hard feelings.  If you’re intrigued, welcome, let’s continue.

Let’s get this out of the way early; I’m fine, don’t worry!

So let’s start at the beginning.  When I was 15 I hurt my knee playing football (soccer).  I had x-rays and an arthroscopy (where they stick tiny cameras in your knee to take a look around) and I was told I was fine.  Yet my knee hurt.  I then had an MRI which showed some minor damage to some cartilage, no big deal.  I was advised by my doctor to do nothing as it was minor and would cause more problems to go in and fix it.  So I listened and did nothing, and always had a minor annoying pain in my knee.  Fast-forward to today, 16 years later.  The pain has increased with 16 years of walking, running, playing football, shooting wedding and other photo work.  It was time to do something to it.

On July 10th I had minor knee surgery (in and out in 45 minutes, no overnight stay required).  said surgery left my knee looking like this (I will spare you the gross photo, but trust me; under the knee brace was not pretty).

Knee-1-s5s

Now, this was not an emergency surgery so I had the luxury of selecting the day.  I knew that my work calendar always slows down for the summer.  It is VERY hot here in the DC area in the summers and usually I have a lull in weddings in July and August (who wants to get married in 105 degree heat with 100% humidity?) and also my commercial work slows down too.  I may get a single wedding here and there or a shoot come up but I know that July and August are always slow.  A month before my surgery was showing nothing on my calendar for July or the first 2 weeks on August, so I set the surgery.  I knew my recuperation time was 4-6 weeks, so I knew I would be able to hobble around and shoot things in the beginning/middle of august if I needed to.  I have a couple of commercial shoots this coming week but they don’t require much movement from me and are basically just headshots so all the equipment stays in the same position, my camera is on a tripod and I just click the button.  Easy.  My next wedding is not until September and by then I will be almost back to 100%.  The one thing that I did have to do during my recuperation was to teach a photo class that I have; Introduction to Photography with the Art League (Torpedo Factory) here in Old Town.  But for that I just sit on my arse and talk about photography so I could handle that.

Then about 2 weeks into my recuperation after surgery something came up that I had completely forgotten about.  Ashley was coming into town with her new fiancé and I had promised to take some engagement portraits for her.  I’m in my full knee brace and still using crutches for another week, but I had promised her and my wife and I love Ashley so we were going to take these photos no matter what.  We hobbled around slowly in a 4 block radius and got some good shots.  We can thank my wife Corrine for these shots of me doing my thing, knee brace and all.

Knee-2-s5s

The whole point of this post is to ask you some questions.  If something terrible happens, or even something minor (like my example above) that requires surgery or a hospital stay or a sudden trip out of state/country, do you have a plan for the work you have booked or are you able to augment your calendar/work to accommodate your issue?  I remember being in a wedding consult a good few years ago and this question had never come up, here was our exchange…

Prospective Client (PC): “What happens if you die?”
Me: “Excuse me?”
PC: “For our wedding, what happens if you die and you can’t be at our wedding?”
{you are going to have to imagine my wide-eyed shocked face for this next few back and forths}
Me: “Well, if I’m dead, then I will not be attending your wedding.  I will have some bigger issues to attend to.”
PC: “So then what will happen to our wedding?”
Me: “Honestly I have no idea.”

Now, the client here (who shockingly did not book me) asked a very important question in a very indelicate way.  At the time I made fun of it and was shocked at the brazenness of the question.  But with time I came to realize it’s a very important issue.  We as photographers are self employed.  We are our businesses, and if something happens to us then what happens to out clients.  From this meeting I now have some methods in place to deal with my clientele should an emergency arise.  And for the non-emergent issues; I just plan them into down times of my schedule.

So, do you have a back-up plan?

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