Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Try Some Baked Goods

Hunter_elephant

I had to shoot an elephant, in the middle of a street in Los Angeles.  I needed to shoot across the street in order to see a nice house behind the elephant.  And the best place to shoot from was the front lawn of the house across the street.  My producer left a note in that owner’s mailbox, explaining things like the timing, who would be there, the fee we would pay, etc.  This is LA, people are used to things like this.  No problem.  But, days go by and no response at all.  Another nice note is left.  A visit to the home is made.  No response.  More days go by, and now we are getting close to the shoot date, and there is still no response from the owner of the home, whose front lawn we would VERY MUCH like to shoot from.  My producer is getting very antsy.  No response is not usual.  This was definitely the best spot – really the only spot to shoot from – and nothing was getting the owner’s attention.

My producer and I huddle up on the phone and try to think of what to do.  We can’t just show up and shoot on her front lawn, obviously.  “Try some baked goods,” I said.  “I mean, who doesn’t like baked goods, right?”  So, the producer goes to a bakery, gets some cookies and such, and drops them off in the mailbox with yet another nice note.  The next day we get a call from the owner and everything turns out fine.  A great chocolate chip cookie can always brighten your day, or your whole shoot.

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Getting Screamed At is a Good Thing

It helped me, without a doubt. At the time, I was working at a full-time assisting job in NYC.  The photographer, who shall remain nameless, was a very successful fashion and beauty shooter.  And, as I learned soon enough, had a reputation as a screamer.  He was always, it seemed, yelling for me, or anyone, to get this lens or that body or that filter or that reflector or whatever.  Who knew what he was going to want next?  Not me, that was certain.  And yet, his yelling and screaming did help me as an assistant, and later as a photographer.

Strictly for self-preservation, I would try to guess all the things that he might need at any moment. And if I could, I would have them in my hands.  It didn’t stop his yelling, but it made it a lot shorter in duration.  Made me calmer, too, as a result.  What I learned was to try and see the scene, the job, the moment, through his eyes and not mine.  When I concentrated on doing that, I had a much better sense of what was going on in his head and what he might need.  It even allowed me – discreetly, because he was a indeed a screamer – to make suggestions that might help him.  I still don’t remember the yelling fondly, but I certainly do value it as a learning moment.

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