“So are you bored?” A Little Old Lady says as she breaks my book reading revivere. “I’m ready to have my picture taken.”
“Then I’m not bored anymore.” I say and smile as I set down my book.
Reading, talking, listening to the radio where it’s allowed, are all ways to help pass the time. I’m not usually bored though. I like reading and am always suprised that people think I must be bored if I have a book in my hands.
A good day at an Assembly Line Portrait Studio is one where The Photographer never sits down and the day flashes by in a blur. But those days seem to be a thing of the past.
I have always had a book close to hand, as people miss their appointments and some people show up late and there are just dead spots in most days. So I have a lot of time to sit around and read.
The idea has always been that The Photographer spend fifteen or twenty minutes with The Subject and create such amazing images that they have to buy them from The Passer. That is the dreamworld where Manegement lives. The Company thinks every cast should land a fish, every shot should be a bullseye, and every portrait should be sold.
I’m reminded of Jeff Foxworthy’s take on fishing-if you can sleep while doing it, it shouldn’t really be called a sport. That’s kind of the way it is a lot of the time being an Assembly Line Portrait photographer. There’s a lot of waiting, and the occasional nap.
The usual pattern is sitting around reading and then five people show up at the same time. One of these five actually has an appointment at this time, the rest are either early or late for their appointments. They all want their portraits taken NOW.
Working in Churches a common event is sitting around and doing nothing for most of Wednesday, then having a mob wander in just before Services start and say-Well, we were going to be here anyway so we decided to have our portraits taken now. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that the other forty people who had appointments that day had the same bright idea.
Poor churches can also be filled with people who regard an appointment as more of a suggestion. I’ve worked poor churches where no one shows up for the first three hours and them they all pour in an hour before closing time. These are then the people most likely to complain that they were not given enough time and that they don’t like their portraits.
I have never been a big fan of Appointments myself. While most people tend to treat the appointments as the general guidelines they are meant to be, a lot of others either ignore them or expect to be ushered in ahead of everyone else because they have an appointment. Well, everyone else has an appointment as well and on a busy Shoot we can fall behind.
As with most Service Industries, the Customer is viewed as the Enemy. They are bowling pins to be set up and knocked down. They are a Number to get through. They are that last Appointment that we have to sit around for an hour and wait for-and they will likely be Nonbuyers anyway.
Part of the time honored method of killing time is to bitch and moan about such things as The Company, Other Employees, and The Customers. It is also a standard practice for The Passer of complain about The Photographer’s portraits and The Photographer to complain about The Passer’s lack of salesmanship. We all agree that The Preseller is demon spawn and should be killed on sight.
We also tend to ponder the future of Assembly Line Portraits, and Church Directories in particular. Most of the people who quit don’t go to work for other Assembly Line Companies, they seek employment in other fields. The Photographer that has gotten used to making 50K a year is loath to take a job as a Mall Photographer making 18K a year. The Proof Passer finds that there are only one or two choices if they want to remain a Proof Passer-and they are thinking about quitting one of those choice to start with. Some people leave and then come back, trying their best to pretend they never quit.
There is still money to be made, The Company is doing well enough, and they really don’t care if the file and rank are living on unemployment and food stamps. They are making enough money that they can jet around the country promoting whatever their next harebrained idea is. We like to talk about The Company as well.
Some people spend the extra hours playing with their geewhiz cell phones-watching YouTube and chatting up their fellow tweeps. I can often be seen standing over my laptop writing that next great blog post or reworking a sentence or two in my never ending novel. All of use have hand held poker games or twenty question games or maybe a trivia game. I’ve become quote good at Video Poker, but have also played so many hands that I realize the odds of winning in the real world are between slim and none.
The Summer is usually the Dead Zone of Assembly Line Portraits-so I will have a little more time to work on my 4 Hour Workweek goals.