“You need to change your attitude.” My Manager says. “You’re not one of my better photographers and I’m not going to be working you.”
After almost 17 years of taking Assembly Line Portraits it seems that the end is finally close at hand. I still enjoy taking portraits and I’m still good at it. My Manger is a huge fan of the self fulfilling prophesy-she puts people she doesn’t like at shit Shoots and then bitches about how bad your sales are. Duh, ya think?
While working the mostly bad Shoots I have also fallen into the habit of complaining about them. It’s one of the few bits of fun that I have at work.
My Manager said she was at some Shoot with me one time and that she really liked my pictures-did I remember that? No, I don’t remember that, why would I remember that? With the exception of a few nutcase Passers, just about everyone I’ve ever worked with has liked my pictures. The pictures are not the problem. Send me to a Shoot where people might be willing to BUY something and I will do fine.
The New Company is also the one that wants nothing but Shoot-N-Show employees and I am still just a Photographer. This is part of the reason that I’m not working, the Shoot-N-Show folks get first crack. I’m not good at selling. My Manager just can’t seem to get this figured out. My shooting and showing and running a ten dollar average would not be a good thing for anyone.
One upon a time I made a pretty good living taking pictures of 45 families a day, six days a week. Now-well, when I’m shooting-I have maybe 25 families to shoot and the numbers are just not there for my kind of Assembly Line Portrait work.
One of the current catchphrases for the New Company is Shot Something They Can’t Do At Home Themselves. Huh, and what exactly would that be? Seriously. Pinterest has pages of poses, lighting diagrams, and Photoshop tutorials-there is nothing I can do that an interested person can’t do at home. And the things that are a bit different-like using a projector, putting images on photos of the Client’s actual walls, and giving them an infinite option of frames and colors and such-aren’t options that I can offer through The Company. It’s still Assembly Line Portraits, and I’m still a good photographer, and it still sucks that you have to kiss the Manager’s ass to get any work.
One thing that did surprise me was when she complained that I didn’t call her back-the only time I recall not calling her back was the times she called when I was out of town.
My Old Company Studio was not perfect, but with the addition of a couple of extra lights, it was damned good for Assembly Line Portraits. I could easily do rim lighting, side lighting, low key, high key, and all manner of lighting patterns with cute names. The New Company returns me to the land of Button Pushers. The light sucks, the backgrounds suck, and the posing options are sliced to about a tenth of what they used to be. So, yeah, I don’t take as many wall cool images as I used to. I can’t.
Then go ahead and give me work at places where no one wants to buy anything anyway-and abracadabra!-my sales suck.
So maybe my attitude is not as good as it could be.
I’d like to say that once upon a time I was a joy to work with and everyone loved being around me-but I’ve never been a people person. I’ve been fast, accurate, and efficient. My most successful times have been at places where I could zip through the Line and save people time. I never liked working late and the faster I shot the sooner I’d be done as well.
Back in the Old Days, a busy day would keep me on my feet all day and keep two Passers hard at work. I could take a break once I was a Sitting or two ahead. I could grab a bite to eat, or go to the Restroom, or read a chapter or two. Shoot-N-Show, if it’s scheduled correctly, means no breaks. You Shoot, You Show, You Shoot again, etc. You also get to hear from the Subjects how bad your portraits are directly instead of second hand. As George McFly said-I don’t think I can handle that kind of rejection.
Anyone reading this Blog who used to be a Photography Marketing Rep? I really can take good portraits, I just need someone to get me some accounts where I can shoot them. Or maybe I could do one of those Mall Shoots with Coupons.
I don’t like The Company, but I do like working. I like traveling, it’s fun to figure out if a room is large enough for the Studio, and I tend to get along well with my Subjects. I don’t always get along well with the Coordinator or my Co-Workers-I have too much of an opportunity to express my honest opinions on things-and that is never a good idea at work.
Change is good, if there ever is any change. In the meantime, I’ll hang on as long as I can and keep looking at every other oddball option that wanders my way.