November 26, 2012
A week or so ago, I was at Starbucks and from a general count, I saw a total of six photographers there. Some were with clients or perspective clients, others were there with their drink and their camera out on display. The barista asked what I had planned and I said I had a shoot in about an hour. He said “Oh, you’re a photographer too? We get many of those guys here but you’re different!” I asked him what he meant and he proceeded to tell me that most of the photographers that hang out at this specific Starbucks, goes out of their way to let other “lessor” known people that they are photographers and everyone who isn’t as excellent as them (the photographers) are scum. It got me thinking that while it’s VERY possible to talk yourself out of a job, you can also talk yourself out of people who aren’t interested in your business-from just liking you overall!
A few weeks ago I posted that I was looking for new faces for my workshops. Since being back in CO I’m going to teach workshops again. One young lady responded that she was interested and loved my work, that she would love to be a model for my workshops. I got more info on her and decided that she would be good to test with so we moved to that stage of the process. It is at this time that I inform people that for unpaid test shoots I do not allow escorts and link them to the reason why I do so. This young lady proceeded to tell me that she finds it shady that I don’t allow escorts.That I must have something to hide by not allowing them. I inform her that it’s the exact opposite really, I don’t know her OR her unapproved “security” and don’t feel comfortable with anyone who isn’t germane to the shoot being on the set. My set, my rules. She proceeds to tell me that she has vetted me through a photographer in “N.Y.” and he told her he’s worked with me and I’m a terrible person to work with. My only publications are in Maxim when they ran the hometown hotties in the paper magazine. I don’t have sponsors and no one likes me. I’m a fraud. I knew right away who she was referring to! I struggle for a week on what to do. The business professional side of me said laugh it off, the protector side of me said attack this photographer. Understand, long time ago this photographer served as an influence for me. I liked his work then, I thought it was great. Over the years I’ve got better and realized his style is very, very dated. It’s funny as on his blog, he has a TON of fashion agency tips for would be models yet he can’t get work with N.Y. agencies! He has told me this, that they don’t like his photography style and his editing. Yet he is “instructing” would be models on how to make it in the industry he fails at! Just talking. I wanted to tell him that my “no sponsors” isn’t the case when he RAN to the bank to cash a check my sponsor paid him for coming out to talk to my students at a workshop (one where 90% of the people said he was the second least valuable speaker). But I digressed and decided that it wasn’t worth it, at that point I would be just talking. He knows who he is and the scam he runs on girls, I know who I am and what I do.
While at the Starbucks, I decided to sit and listen. Absorb the atmosphere. I heard a photographer give a sales pitch that was a bit too…pitchy but somewhat effective. I watched the would be clients face through it all and about half way through the presentation, the client’s eyes just turned off. Blank expressions and a huge disengagement, so much so that she was actually shifting to her right which was the direction toward the door. The photographer from my point of view, seemed to be more interested in telling the client how other photographers will fail her and she wouldn’t. She put less emphasis on what she could do, vs what they couldn’t do for the client. When the photographer was done with her spiel they got up to leave. I waited a few minutes and followed behind. I had to see how this ended so I walked in the general direction of them. Oddly enough, my car was about three cars behind the client. As I slow walked past them I heard the client say “Well again, thank you so much! I have a few other photographers I’m talking to but will let you know” To which the photographer responded “Just remember, only I can capture the image how you want!”
I have no doubt that the photographer not only lost that client, but becomes the focus of the next client/different photographer meeting. The next photographer will land the gig with no problems as long as he or she sticks to what they can do for the client. As for the model in the story above, she told me she couldn’t find me by doing a google search and that the photographer from “N.Y.” was correct, I am a sham. That her lawyer did a search for me on the internet and couldn’t find a single link about me anywhere. Obviously like the photographer at Starbucks, she was just talking.