“Are you ready to take pictures yet?” The eager little old lady says with a bright smile. “If your ready, you can take my picture.”
“I’m not ready yet, Ma’am.” I say as I wheel my cart filled with black boxes into the future camera room. “I’ll be ready in about an hour and half or so.”
“But your here now.” The little old lady whines, clearly not impressed by the fact that I have two more loads of equiment to bring in and setup.
“What time is your appointment?” I say as I unload the dolly and do my best to ignore her.
“Oh I don’t have an appointment,” She says sounding a bit bitter. “I just thought you could squeeze me in.”
“Come back in about two hours.” I say and smile. “I’ll see what I can do.”
This has happened to me at Big Box Stores, Churches, Shire Temples, and Shopping Malls. You are clearly, blantantly not ready to take anyone’s portrait, and yet people run up to you and want to know when you will be ready and they want to be first. Some people pull up a chair and watch as you spend the next two hours setting up the Studio. I can usually shove them around and put them behind the background or tell them to go sit somewhere else. But not always. Some of the people without lifes are really serious about being the first person to waste your time. These early birds rarely buy anything.
Of course, I seldom make them wait the full two hours either. It usually takes about 45 minutes to setup the Camera Room and then I can push the burden of time onto the Passer, who shows up a good deal later than I do. I can’t take a portrait without a Passer there to show it, so I will tell the person waiting to go across the hall and watch the Passer for a while.
I have worked with Assembly Line Photographers who are real assholes when it comes to this point. If someone has a 6 pm appointment and they show up at 4 pm, they won’t take their portrait until 6 pm. This is about the height of stupidity to my way of thinking. I shoot whoever comes in the door first. Some of the Passers who are used to working with assholes get mad at me-Your rewarding that idiot just becasue they like to show up early everywhere! Yeah, I guess I am. So Fucking What?
I am one of those people that really doesn’t like to talk to anyone while I am setting up or tearing down. This is the only real work of this job and it takes a good deal of my attention. I am often hot and sweaty during setup and teardown, and am rarely in the mood to answer a lot of dumb questions. I usually tell people I will be with them once I am done setting up, but again, these are sometimes people who want to sit down and watch. Fine, what do you WANT?!?
This is one of the problems with weeks where they give us multible setups and teardowns. Last week I had four setups and teardowns. I have had weeks with five setups and teardowns. This makes for an unhappy and grumpy Photographer who does nothing all week but drive, setup, work all day, and then teardown. This is one of those weeks where I think about calling some Lawyer I see advestising in the middle of the night and ask what I need to do to start a Class Action. One of the other Assembly Line Portrait Photographers is always talkin about suing The Company. I tell him to let me know when he gets it going.
Most of the time the Good outwieghts the Bad, but those times when the Bad is really bad, you just don’t want to play any more. And this is the real reason I don’t get those Good Shoot anymore. I can get grumpy from time to time. I know, it’s hard to believe. But I tell you that I am a lot less grumpy now than I used to be. Oh I still like sitting around and complaining, but my heart just isn’t in it anymore. Until I find something better-and the odds of that are getting slimmer and slimmer, this is it.
Of course, if The Company goes bellyup tomorrow, I will go out and find another job in pretty short order, or go back and give my poor little business another shot. It won’t be the end of the world, and I think that is a good thing. I would think the end is near now, except for the Chosen Few who still make $1,500 a week. There is still money to be made, just not by me.