by Guest Contributor Brandi and Greg Schrader
There is something amazing about watching someone who is fast or strong or just plain excels at whatever activity they pursue. Michael Johnson captured our hearts when he won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics and set a new world record, Bobby Flay inspires millions of people to create new and creative dishes on Iron Chef America, and Madonna never ceases to amaze her audiences with high energy and high impact performances. My son even creates a certain amount of awe for the audience when he plays soccer. Mind you – he is only 8, but his speed, precision, juke moves and pure passion for the sport have caused many jaws to drop. (Yes I am a proud parent!)
One thing each of these individuals have in common is a natural talent or ability, but even more importantly – they all train. To get to the Olympic level athletes begin to train their bodies at a toddler level and the training NEVER stops. Quite often they continue to train even after making it to the Olympics and even winning a medal. Somehow 2 medals are always better than one. Bobby Flay trains himself and creates challenges continuously. My favorite is watching him on Throwdown when he makes an entirely new dish that he has never made before and comes out victorious over the person he challenges who has been making the dish their entire life. Madonna certainly spends plenty of hours at the gym keeping her physical form in tip top shape and she is continually improving and evolving her art. Even my son practices daily, and usually with older more experienced kids like his older brother.
When we conduct Schrader Workshops, one of the activities we do is called our “Training to the Extreme” challenge. We pick a location (typically dull to average); set a timer for 2 minutes; send in a photographer and model. The remainder of the group sits just outside the location and waits. No peaking, no sneaking pose ideas, just wait and try to have a plan in place for their own 2 minutes. When the timer goes off – that’s it – show us what you got. Hopefully the photographer in the “hot seat” was able to create something unique and show worthy, but more often than not I have seen photographers freeze. Something about the time limit, the lack of grandiose location, and the pressure of comrades waiting to see the finished product take their toll. This is a perfect way to simulate the pressure of a wedding day timeline that has gotten off track – but you still have a job to do – and a mission to create a timeless and beautiful work of art.
Greg has a metaphor that seems to capture the essence of this activity. If a weightlifter trains his body to lift 100 pounds with each arm extended out to his sides (like a jumping jack) and trains until he is able to do 30 reps without breaking a sweat – when it comes time for him to lift 10 pounds by curling his arms up to his chest, he will be able to do it without thinking and without breaking a sweat. Train yourself in this same manner. Pick locations that you do not like, ones that give you trouble, ones that you do not feel inspiration from – and practice until you can make timeless and beautiful works of art. Just like the above mentioned references, even the best natural talent and ability still needs to train in order to be at the top. Try this technique and the next time you find yourself in a “hot seat” – You will be amazed at how your work will soar.
– Brandi Schrader
Brandi and Greg of Schrader Photography are frequently asked, “How do you create such stunning images?” Their answer: “It is easy when you are on your right path, doing what you are meant to be doing, and loving what you do.” Photography wasn’t the first career choice for either of them. Greg used to go to work day in and day out – always with the same mantra, “I would rather work 18 hours a day for myself than 8 hours a day for someone else”, while Brandi on the other hand, thrived at being a Director of Operations, but quickly found that working outside of the home for 60 – 80 hours per week meant that she was missing a huge portion of her life. Then along came photography, probably the farthest career choice that either of them would have ever imagined, and the pieces of their life started to click into place. Now they are working 18 hours a day, but they are doing it on their terms and they are not missing one single moment of our lives.