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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.



What They Don't Know Can't Come Back And Bite You In The...
In the early years of my career, I had an unbearable propensity to wear my heart on my sleeve. If something was going on in my personal life, the entire set knew about it by the end of the day. This didn't matter a whole lot in the early days, but it eventually caught up with me. My problem was I thought no matter who I met, I was supposed to be their close friend. And the way to befriend someone quickly was to share something personal about yourself.

All that personal stuff started getting around town fast, which wouldn't have been so horrible except that the facts got twisted a little every time the story was told. So what started as “my girlfriend's gay roommate introduced us and that's how we started dating” became “I was sleeping with the gay roommate and the girl was just for show.” This was reinforced by “just look at how well he and his girlfriend get along; there's no way they're a real couple.”

Keep Your Mouth Shut
People will find enough stuff to say about you without you actually providing dirt that's factually accurate. What will inevitably happen in your career is that you'll work with people that you dated, slept with, got drunk with, spent some time in prison with—keep those details to yourself.

When you're on the set, keep things professional. I work with my close friends all the time. It's called nepotism, and it's alive and well. The thing is that no one knows that we know each other beyond the fact that we've worked together in the past. No one. Even if either one of us is approached about the matter, the standing rule is fib and evade. No one out of your inner circle should be privy to your personal life.

Be Aware Of How You're Seen
I would sometimes offer to pick up a model who lived on the way to a shoot just to be a nice guy. Upon arrival at the set, there was an immediate assumption that I was sleeping with the model, even though I wasn't. This didn't bother me so much when I was younger. But when I got older, those types of rumors can be highly problematic. “Oh, yes, are you shooting with the dirty old man?” Hmm, not so good for business, especially if you're working with teenage models.

Be Aware Of Your Dramatic Actions
I was taken to a commercial set by the executive producer of a commercial production company I had just signed with. He wanted to show me a “director in action.” I wasn't there for five minutes before the guy had a full-on tantrum. I thought, Who screwed up the lighting? Who missed their mark? Oh, no, it was, Who gave me a lukewarm cafe latte? Apparently, he wanted it hot. The director made a complete ass of himself over the temperature of a coffee. Of course, I never like to miss an opportunity to shove my foot in my mouth. I commented to the executive producer, “If I have to be this retarded, I think I'm going to go back to assisting.” That went over large.

By the way, I'm not perfect. I was on location on a cliff overlooking the ocean, trying to nail a shot that I kept missing. The useable light was almost gone, and I was clicking up a storm, trying to make the shot work. Meanwhile, someone who was lost was calling the cell phone in my pocket incessantly. The smart thing would have been to give the phone to my assistant to deal with. And that's the exact thought I had as the phone was flying through the air toward the ocean. It took me years to shake loose of that one.


 

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