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Monday, November 26, 2007

Sex, Money And Drama

Becoming grist in the gossip mill can damage the career of a professional photographer. You can't always avoid the scandal, but you can learn how to recover from it with your reputation intact.

The art director could have called me and yelled, but she was too cool for that. She diplomatically told me the situation as it unfolded to her and then calmly told me that she couldn't use me anymore.

I was devastated. I had paid a lot of dues shooting a lot of low-level gigs at that magazine. I finally worked my way up to a cover, only to get fired because some bleach-blonde, Jaguar-driving, bored housewife who was forced on my shoot because her husband and the editor play golf together stabbed me in the back. I had to do something. But what?

Was I Really That Bad?
The first step was the reality check. Did I really come off as poorly as I was described?

I called Marion Cunningham and threw myself on my sword. “Hello, Marion. Did you hear the photos came out great? The reason I'm calling is the magazine received a complaint about my behavior on the set. I don't want to get you involved in the middle of anything, but if I in anyway said anything that was offensive, I'd like to apologize.”

Miss Cunningham was amazing. She explained that she thought I was a bit inexperienced, a little cocky, but a lot of fun once the shoot got going. She also reassured me that the complaint to the magazine certainly wasn't initiated by her and she was sorry to hear about it.

I ran back to the magazine and pleaded my case with the art director. She told me that she believed me, but unfortunately, the stylist was in tight with the editor of the magazine. There was nothing she could do.

It was my first exposure to the nasty side of politics, and it stung. In hindsight, I count it as the least dramatic political situation in which I've been involved. In other words, it got way worse as my career progressed. But this story was the most memorable because the effect was incredibly far reaching, mostly because my client list only had six names on it and now it had five. Also, the malicious nature of which people were capable just because they didn't like my personality blew my mind.

Politics Happen
Unless you're on the fast track to a monastic shooting career, there's no escaping gossip and politics. If, after reading this article, you e-mail me and tell me in some highfalutin tone that you don't ever gossip, I'm going to tell everyone you're an elitist—behind your back.

Gossip is actually an integral part of our being. Studies have demonstrated that it's a large component of a democratic society because it encourages free speech. However, there's a significant difference between idle gossip and judgments, as compared to pernicious rhetoric and politics. The latter usually has an agenda or a psychotic attached to it.


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