Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mangaling the Music

I decided not to go into work on Monday. I just slept in; that was how I quit. I actually feel kind of gleeful in my reckless abandon to leave someone else in a lurch, but that's slightly-above-minimum-wage-employee-karma for your there, Gertie.

Though the job may be gone and Gertie's treasured soundbites are no more, there is still fodder for ancedotal reflection. Did I ever tell you the one about the radio station?

Despite reaching the ripe age of 48, she only had loyalty to one radio station: Top forty. Also, WE HAD TO LISTEN TO IT ALL THE TIME! Problem was, the only speakers in the studio were perched on a file cabinet next to my head, which was situated about 4 feet from the stereo, but 25 feet away from everyone else. Gertie's office was a separate room from the studio and despite having a constant need to hear music all the time, she made no such effort to move the unit closer to her.

Every morning I would come in and automatically turn the volume down from 14 to 9. During the first week of my employment, I was incredulous to witness that wench stride across the room to flick the volume knob up just as I answered the phone. She would grin at me without a hint of sarcasm and quip "Hey! What happened to our music?", before heading straight back to her office. Naturally as soon as she disappeared, I'd turn the volume down again.

The first time this ever happened, I merely put my hand over the receiver and whispered to Gertie, "I can't hear the phone with the music up so loud." Like a sane person I expected a response of "Oh, I'm sorry I didn't realize it was so loud over here." Instead I was told, "But the customers have to hear music!"

After I finished the call, she explained to me that at one point a few years back, she had wanted to install the stereo in the front reception room, but since people passing by on the street might look and and spot the speakers, she had decided to keep it out of view to avoid getting robbed.

I know that if I was a burglar, I would totally smash and grab a sweet sound system from 1991 and totally ignore the thousands of dollars of camera, computer and lighting equipment, but that's just me. Priorities, you know?

The real problem that I had with the radio being on was not the volume noise, but the actual noise: Lady Gaga- 2 songs, Plain White T's- 1 song, Black Eyed Peas- 1 song, Celine Dion- 2 songs, Sarah McLaughlin- 1 song...the list goes on and on. It was the crappiest of the crap, the shittiest of the shit, and the same playlist on shuffle all damn day long every fucking day. Sometimes I'd hear the same Bruno Mars and Avril Lavigne song four times in a day or more. Sometimes I'd get so frustrated I'd actually cry.

WHY GOD OH WHY DOES A 48-YEAR-OLD-WOMAN LUST AFTER THIS BULLSHIT? I swear, Gertie either had ADD or was a real passive aggressive ding-dong.

In the end, it was just one more reason why I quit.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is The End Nigh?

I don't know how much more of Gertie's shit I can take, therefore, I do not know how much longer I can maintain this blog.

Though her eye-opening, jaw dropping statements used to amuse me, I now find them so infuriating that I have a hard time keeping my cool. My former silence has turned into blatant rudeness and we both know it. Today that fat cunt shook a fucking Walmart photo lab print in my face and demanded to know why the bride's skin tones "looked like a zombie's." I tried to explain the rather sizable discrepancy between the current color display of my computer monitor and the color output of a non-calibrated grocery store printer. I was told as she waved the print around "But this is a photograph, not an Epson! They use inks!" I just marveled at her dumbness.

Her idea of industry terminology was so jumbled and ill-defined, she didn't even know what she wanted to say.

We then spent fifteen minutes starting at her computer while she over-saturated the image's colors. "I usually go up forty or fifty percent- now, mind the hair-that bride's going red and we want to keep her a brunette, but really saturating the colors on this will really make everything pop!"
Gertie, you effing nimrod, the colors on that image are now so scrambled that when it comes back from Fartmart, her skin's going to be glowing nuclear orange and I bet you a million, gillion dollars you'll wonder why they "printed it like that."
Oh boy. Please get an effing clue, "Ms. Professional!"

Oh and BTW, please hire photographers that know how to focus a camera. I spent six, count them, SIX hours today trying to digitally add focus to a bride and groom's posed shots. Your photographer apparently set up his tripod, (on a fucking angle, I might add, so that every shot came out tilted), but more than that, every single image was completely out of focus. A bride doesn't have to know a damn thing about cameras, photography or art to know when she's being taken for a ride! I hope you get your ass sued. I really, really do.
Well, they're sort of in frame. Guess that counts for something.

I just can't put up with your incompetence any more. You have no idea how to run a business. You've heard the saying, "Just because you can have kids doesn't mean you should?" Well, it works in business, too. You are the least competent, least talented "fertografer" I've ever met (and no, darling, that's not how it's pronounced).

Let me school you on the finer points of running a photo bidness:
1. Always check focus and exposure. It's a digital camera, for crying out loud. It has a LCD display on the back panel so that you IMMEDIATELY know when something is awry. LOOK at what you shoot and RE-FOCUS and RE-METER before you shoot anything else. Goddangit, high school Photo 1 students know more than you about this.
I just don't even know.

2. Only hire fertografers that posses the above knowledge. That recalls the adage "Surround yourself with people more capable than yourself." Fuck knows you need it more than anyone else I know.

3. Please stop using Photoshop to "fix" everything in post-production. Cameras have controls so that it can be right the first time. EVERY SINGLE IMAGE you give me has to be straightened, sharpened, cropped, color-balanced, have the shadow and highlight detail corrected because you don't know how to use a camera. Let me troubleshoot that shit for you, respectively:

a- Use the built-in level on your tripod. That little bubble-in-a-circle is there for a reason! USE IT!

b-FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS! Take the camera off Auto and manually focus the effing lens, you meatball!

c-Get in close to your sitter/bride/whathaveya. There are two ways the camera can be held: vertical and horizontal. When the bride and groom are standing on the altar, perhaps you should not stand 50 feet away and use the horizontal orientation. Know why? All I see are two heads surrounded by walls and ceiling. God, I hate you. Children know better than this.
"Why am I wandering around a hallway? Where are my pants?"

d-Your fancy, $5000 dSLR has a really nifty built-in feature called WHITE BALANCE. This tells the camera what kind of light you shooting in. It makes all the picture colors look nice instead of wrong. This is something that a digital class would tell you on the very first day. Yep, I still hate you.

e-Please learn how to expose properly. See, what happens when you overexpose is that you loose all the detail in the highlights. Now the bride has NO DETAIL in her dress. The woman who just paid you $3600 for portraits cannot see the beading and lace details in her $6000 dress. Way to go, Spud. I'm sure she'll recommend you to all of her friends. P.S.: I cannot correct this in Photoshop. I cannot "make up" lost information. This is a key point- it's gone! Vanished, never recorded or to be seen again! Poof! Up in Smoke! You're an asshole! Okay!

P.P.S. Please, pleasegodIbegyou, shoot in RAW.(This is a file type that lets the photographer control some image specifications after the fact.) At least then I would have a fighting chance to save/find some details. I know you think that RAW files take up too much space and that setting all the specs for every image takes too long, but you don't process the images from the camera. I do, jerkwad, AND IT TAKES ME FOREVER!!!!

4. Quit giving everyone ALL THE IMAGES. Just because you shot 7000 images at someone's wedding doesn't mean they want all of them. Why can you go through and edit out all the under/overexposed/out-of-focus bullshit? The bride doesn't want to sort through those- that's your job! You should've been doing it during the time you were shooting! If you edited during the event- meaning that you were looking at the pics you were getting AT THE TIME THEY HAPPENED, you might have some real awesome images there, lady. Of course, it's too much work to do a proper job, so let's just innundate our clients with quantity instead of quality. What a fucking farce.
Those black olive eyes really give me the creeps.

5. Let's consider the repercussions of the above statement. So the bride calls me up to tell me what images that she wants in her wedding album and 1/2 the one's she's previewed as a tiny thumbnail proof are...wait for it...OUT OF FOCUS! I LOVE telling clients that their lousy, good-for-nothing amateur photographer fucked up their wedding pictures. LOVE IT! Makes me seem like a real dick.

6. Why do you then proceed to sign away the rights to the digital files? Why don't you keep all the originals files under copyright so that in the future when people want reprints they can ORDER THEM AGAIN? God, it would almost be like a photo studio if that happened, instead of Gertie's Free Pic-a-Palooza! I have no idea how you make a profit.

7. It's OK to not give things away FOR FREE. Now this is a subtle thing- you have to include prices in the fine print on contracts and advertising, but, yes, it's OK to charge people for services. I think they might even expect it. Let me walk you through a little scenario here. Bear with me:

You charge $____ for a "wedding album". This includes the layout charge for individual pages, plus the printing/binding fee. Fine. That is what the clients gets: a # of pages in a bound album. I fully understand that there will be some miscommunication or flubs after the very first version of an album is put together. I'll make some changes/corrections, then off to the printer's the album should go! But oh no, not with you.

WHY DO I CONSTANTLY DESIGN AND RE-DESIGN PAGES OVER AND OVER AND OVER FOR THE SAME CLIENTS WITHOUT YOU UP-CHARGING THEM? I've had to COMPLETELY scrap and re-design entire 60 page albums for brides who "just didn't really like the first layout". I am on the EIGHTH FUCKING VERSION of a 2005 retirement dinner album. Please, reign these clients in instead of letting them walk all over you. They paid for the album, now let them have it or charge $100/hour for every change they want to make after the second re-do. This is why you don't make a profit. You give it away for free, like a common whore.

Your business model is non-existent, you are unskilled in the craft of photography, you cannot troubleshoot any technical problems that arise, you use a big-box department store as your primary printer and do not understand the repercussions therein, you hire unskilled family as employees, and worse of all, you do not take free advice from people who know better than you.

I know what you think of me: I am a young person without any experience or expertise. I don't know a damn thing and this is why you pay me $10 an hour. You've stated explicitly that any bum off the street can do my job. I despise you more than you'll ever know.

A happy employee is a loyal employee. This is yet one more adage you'll never learn.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gertie's Nuggets of Wisdom

1. Parents don't like to order black and white photographs. They grew up in the time before color photography was invented so they are tired of that. Subsequently, they only order color prints.

2. People looking to find an new apartment will tend not to move in the winter months. It's not really because of the inclement weather, rather, it's because no one wants to move their Christmas trees and decorations.

3. Relatives like personalized gifts. For example, I bought my grown
daughter a propane heater for Christmas. Who doesn't like heat?

4. I greet people with the same friendly saying every single morning. "Good to see so many smiling faces!" My husband says that's it's getting old and it would be nice if I came up with something new, but you just can't argue with tradition.

5. I employ homeless people to do odd jobs. I figure if they are going to linger out on the sidewalk doing nothing, I might as well put a broom in their hand and set them to cleaning! Then I throw them a couple of bucks and you know, a loyal employee keeps coming back!

6. I like to play non-stop Christmas music for my clients during the holidays. I know that they can hear it most everywhere else, but I just feel like when they come in to shoot engagement portraits and Bing Crosby is singing, they get all warm and fuzzy inside and look at each other with googly eyes. It's a special thing for them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spanning the Gamut from Dumb to Dumber

Until today, I had never met a photographer that actually got in to the profession to meet girls (and I've worked for people who've shot for Playboy). Photo shoots, even sexytime photo shoots, become progressively banal when they are someone's daily bread and butter. This said, no one I know honestly uses the occupation "photographer" to pick up chicks.

The key is that one has to shoot models EVERY DAY or otherwise the hot-girl-oggling sensibility never gets worn down to the point of being able to distinguish a classy photo shoot from the cheesiest crap ever shat into existence. Models, for their part, should not assume that the photographer is going to "further" her career. The photographer isn't much more than a monkey trained in art of photographic composition, and if they had been modeling for awhile, then they should know it's only going to be fruitful to cozy up with the magazine editor.

Today I had to cope with a forty-year-old man who still very much thinks with his second head when it comes to photographing women. This was a person that, had I not seen his face, would've guessed he was a first year student trying to get some extra-curricular shots for his school portfolio. Like a true studmuffin, he waltzed into the studio today (he was renting it just for the afternoon) and popped a mixed CD into the stereo. "Can we listen to my girl's favorite music?" he asked moments before the pop music intro sonically raped my eardrums.

While his model did her own makeup in the bathroom, the fellow tried to chat me up for a few minutes. "Do you like Lady Gaga? This music is the bomb! It's so fresh!" I stared at this fashion victim. Old boy was dressed like it was 1992: Frosted, shoulder-length body wave- gelled, of course, a billowy red silk dress shirt and a pair of Z Cavarrici's cinched with a tri-color braided leather belt. I almost fell out of my chair.

I tried to be nice and make small talk. "What agency is she with?", referring to the overly tan, bleached blond in the bathroom.

He said "Um, Tom's. Tom's Models."

"Oh, Tom's! I heard they broke from Elite last year", biting my tongue so as to not loose it.

He looked at me blankly.

"Do you mostly shoot CP?", I ventured?

He again looked at me quizzically.

"Do you shoot things for commercial print or editorial purposes?

He mumbled, "Um, well this will be...printed...on paper.

Mentally smacking my forehead, I simplified "Are you shooting for your own portfolio?"

"Yes!", he said confidently "These are going in my portfolio!"

"Ah, so you're testing today," I said.

His features lost confidence so I explained: "You're not shooting for a client, you're just shooting for you." He answered with a shit-eating grin. "Go get her, Tiger! I said as ridiculously as I could as the model emerged from the bathroom.

This woman had not modeled for any length of time and was taken aback when he asked her if she could lie on the floor. Since studio was laid out shotgun-style with my desk at the front of the room and everything else behind me, I swiveled in my chair to watch the shenanigans. The model, who I'll call Peaches, was clad only in a pair of black boyshorts, a corset-style camisole and 4-inch heels. She looked like she was ready for the stripper pole.

"Um, so if you could just lie down and maybe put your legs up in the air...oh that's it, that's right, make love to the camera, that's so fresh, I thought you said that you hadn't done this before!" Gertie came out of her studio to watch, and remarked on how well everything was going. "The model's got a great smile!" She said. The guest photographer heartily agreed. "She spans the full gamut, her range goes from happy to sexy!"

I thought my ears would explode from the onslaught of garbage I was hearing, so I swiveled again to behold a spectacle of soft-porn, but the model was only striking caricature Pilates pose. "Good God, it's the dumb leading the dumber out here", I thought.

I tried to concentrate on my work, but Lady Gag-me was now making it exceedingly difficult. "Romrom Rom Ma Maa, Ah Ah Ooh La La I want your romance!"
Does anybody over the age of 14 actually listen to this drivel?
Don't answer that. I've heard enough bullshit for today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fangs For the Lunch Special

Gertie said "I'm going to the grocery store for lunch. I was going to go to Quizno's but I guess as a vegan, you can't eat anything from there."

I thought, "God no. Those veggie-and-no-cheese sandwiches are poison to a veejin!", but I responded, "I'm good, I brought my lunch."

"No meat in there?"

"No meat."

"Just making sure. Me, well I'm going to get one of those fangs-come-out deals from the deli. You know what that is, dontcha?"

I had misheard "thangs come out" and tried to formulate some theory of sexual innuendo tied to lunch specials before she interrupted.

"You know, meat makes your fangs come out, as opposed to vegetables which make your fangs go in."

I'm perfecting the art of the blank stare.

"You know! Like an animal! Their fangs come out when they eat meat and go back in when they don't! So today I'm going to eat like an animal, get it?"

Instead of staring, I nodded to stop her from continuing.

I don't know what mammal has retractable fucking teeth, but I bet it doesn't have a damn thing to do with eating meat! All I can think of are snakes, and if they're anything like me, they have their fangs barred to attack her bigoted ass.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Racist Wednesday

Cutting to the chase, I'm presenting today: Things Overheard at Work:

(Paraphrasing an) Irate Client over the Phone: I want it when I want it and I want it now!

Me: Wow. Sounds like she's got it in for you, Gertie.

Gertie (rolling eyes): Well, she's Jewish. You know how they are. I mean, she's actually from Romania, but you know what I mean.

Me: Did you really just say what I think you said? Jeez, Gertie! I could be Jewish!

Gertie: Yeah, but you're not. You're Catholic, right?

Me: Let's talk about what's wrong with that statement.

Gertie: I think I hear the phone ringing.

Later that day:

Gertie, (to a leaving client): ...So, goodbye Mrs. Chan, we'll have those pictures for you soon! (To me) If I had known she was coming, I would've ordered chicken fried rice, ha!

Me (slowly): To share with her?

Gertie: No! Because she's Chinese. Ring a bell?

Me: (Blank stare.)

Gertie: A lot of Chinese people come over here to work in Chinese restaurants, right?

Me: Ah, you wanted to order lunch from her. You would really ask a paying client to bring you lunch?

Gertie: Oh she doesn't really work in a Chinese restaurant. Girl, you gotta lighten up!

Later on:

Gertie, (to me): This index print is hard to read. You made the type too small. I guess it'll have to do, I'm sending it with the order to the book binder's today.
I sure hope their Mexicans can read!

Me: (Blank stare.)

Gertie: Our book binders? They're in Mexico.

Me: Actually, they're in San Diego.


Yay, my job is like slapstick for racists!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Losing Patience

I'm only a week into this job and already my grumpiness is spilling over into other areas of my life. I think that because I can't tell La Familia Dingbat to shove it that I'm being extremely curt to my friends. I mean, I have to respond to the phrase "Watch out now, razor blades are sharp", somehow, but I can't say what I'm really thinking. My outward countenance just gives a half-smile and nods, but my inner monologue starts ranting like Lewis Black. "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, REALLY? Thanks Mom, I would've brushed my teeth with a handful if it hadn't been for your ample, timely warning!" What's next? Are you going to tell me that cars have brakes to make them not go bye-bye anymore?
...and I quote, "Do you know that you can have Thanksgiving on a budget? The grocery store sells turkeys for $2.00!"
If you had looked closer you would've seen that the sign said $2.00 per pound. I'm overjoyed that you are in charge of cutting my paychecks.

I know, I know, I sound like Queen Bitch here, but I think I might be losing my mind - and that's saying something. I have a "detail oriented" grandmother that's been snapping out bits like the aforementioned since I was four. Thankfully, I have honed ability to tune her out. However, there is assuredly a difference between a slightly senile eighty-year-old stating the obvious and a supposedly "mentally healthy" woman of 48 telling me the same damn thing. I cannot help but to react to the latter.