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.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lunch Time

I've decided that Old Girl isn't a bad person, just utterly clueless. Yesterday she offered to get fast food, either hamburgers or pizza for lunch. I politely declined and mentioned that I had brought mine from home. Genuinely curious, she asked me what it was. "I have a fake chicken patty sandwich, it's kinda like tofu", I said, thinking of my mycoprotien patty, moldering away in my desk drawer. The work refrigerator was so crammed full of soda, there was no room left for other perishables.
"Are you vegetarian?" she asked, but didn't stop to hear my answer. "I met a chick on a married couples' retreat once that was vegetarian, you know you meet all sorts of people there, anyway, she was eating a bowl of cereal one morning and it was really loud! So I said, Hey you, there's milk for your cereal! You don't have to eat it dry! Then the gal told me she was vee-jin." She pronounced the term as though it was the first time she had ever said it out loud. "Do you know what that is? I had never heard of it! I had to ask my husband! So do you eat your cereal dry as well?" I replied, "No, I use soymilk", but she mowed down my reply with her opinion on the superiority of grilling fish to baking it. I didn't catch the details of the summation due to the fact that I was envisioning an adult woman at a breakfast bar excitedly pointing out obvious sundries for other grown people. "I guess you couldn't eat the pizza either," she ventured. "Hey did you know that you could just not put the cheese on the pizza if you were veejin? You wouldn't have to put the meat on there either." I stared at my computer screen then finally said softly, "Yep. That's how I make it at home." "Oh you do! Well that just great! I didn't see a ring on your finger so I didn't know that you would cook for just yourself at home. "

Fuck me. Tomorrow I'm bringing headphones.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pride May Stem From the Inability to Seperate Shit From Shinola.

Upon the return of the queen to her castle, Gertie the Photographer hovered around me long enough to tell me her life story with great gusto and pride. She named all of her professional achievement awards, how much her clients just loved their sessions, the magazines covers she had shot, and finally, a thirty minute diatribe about the complexities of microscopic photography. She asked my four times where I went to school. She informed me that one could receive a PhD in the humanities if one were so inclined, or so she had heard. She asked me why I did not have a PhD in Photography. She marveled over the idea that I would willing teach my theorectical students archaic black and white darkroom technique when there is so much color in the world. I wordlessly worked on correcting the editing errors left by the last person that had been assigned to my job. The owner then proceed to jam a jump drive into my computer, close the files I was working on and bring up images from her commercial experience. This consisted of a sole photo of a "lawyer in a "library". The background was nothing more than a venetian blind highlighted orange by a colored studio light. I thought to myself , "Hey! That's what my 4th grade yearbook photo looked like!"

I chose green for my background, though.

Trust and Logic

The husband told me to be careful who I let in the studio, because this one time, when he was there alone, a homeless person asked to use the bathroom. He learned his lesson to not take anyone for granted. Apparently, as Jim Bob had his back turned to answer the phone, the homeless man absconded with a $5000 camera! The nerve of some people! A moment later, after realizing it was time for his doctor's appointment, he showed me where the petty cash drawer was kept, the credit card machine, the client files and the filled-order pickup. Then he left for the day, leaving me there by myself after three hours of "training." "My wife will be back here later in the afternoon," he called as he ran out the front door, "Call me if you get stuck!"

The thought crossed my mind to steal a camera.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So I Just Took This New Job, Part II

Later, I went over all my reasons for being qualified to use Photoshop to turn clients' photo shoot fuckery into collages for their personal albums. I showed her the makeup of my thesis work: image files that were all saved on layers so that one could see what had been done and how it had been done. In response, she checked her cell phone.  Then she magnanimously started to wax poetic about the features in Photoshop known as the Filters.
"Do you know what a Gaussian Blur is?  How do you use it?  Tell me the steps.  I want to see if you are really qualified for this position."  She had me repeat this formality for the Stained Glass and Watercolor features. I felt my fingernails tearing into closed palms. This was akin to telling a seasoned pianist to try a Casio programmed on "Moonbeam" or "Dazzle" because it would make their music sound prettier.

She never said he'd hire me, even though I started the next day at 9 am sharp. I'm only there for a trying-out, 3 eight-hour shifts. No lunch. I never filled out a W2 because "the accountant never gave me those."   I hate and am leery of working on spec, and yet I haven't walked out, because being poor makes you do dumb things. I can only hope that everything will work out... Well, money-wise, maybe.  I expect everything else to be a complete disaster.

So I Just Took This New Job

I just got out of graduate school for photography and I'm flat-broke.  My impending student loan schedule has forced me to pick up another part-time job.  I'd like to teach and get a photo book published, but since this isn't happening at the moment, I answered an ad Friday that called for a photo retoucher.  Since pre-grad school I  had worked for many freelance photographers in various guises, , I felt well qualified. 

I'm really not here to be egotistical, but I might have overestimated these people. 
Upon entering the storefront office for the interview, I noticed how small and cramped the reception area was. The walls were outfitted in a floral wallpaper pattern that, incidentally, my aunt had also applied to her home in 1988.  Dominating the room were two large, white leather sofas whose overstuffed cushions had been flattened with age long ago. Worn, green shag carpeting provided a pathway from the front entrance to the back studio area. Every inch of available wall space was crammed with enlarged samples of the owner’s craft.  There was no rhyme or reason to the display of these purported visual enticements; No two frames were alike and all were hung comically crooked. In them, I saw examples of people with their necks craned at strange angles, faces with blank eyes and grimaced smiles, all the while holding hands with their partners beneath cliched local monuments. Some had even donned festive sports team merchandise to mark the occasion.
As I proceed to show her samples from portfolios, she glossed over every image while saying to me, "Some of these old Midwestern landscapes are ok I guess, but really, you’d do better to pick a better book cover picture." She pointed to a particular image.  “Hey, I like that one. What is that?” she wanted to know. I told her that it was an old outhouse.  “I didn’t know they still made those!” She exclaimed.  My interviewer then told me that if I showed up the next day, I could "color-correct" some practice images and then we could compare them to her versions to see where I had gone wrong.

I am so looking forward to it.