A few days ago, I made a mistake. It wasn’t one of those simple, easy to repair mistakes, but rather one that I knew I shouldn’t do, but did anyway. I broke a promise to myself, and agreed to do a photo shoot for a colleague at work.
Now before you start on me with the comments like, “I thought you didn’t do photography anymore,” and “didn’t another colleague royally screw you out of some money owed from another shoot?” (both of which would be answered with a resigned sigh and a definite “yes”), let me explain.
The person who asked is a pretty sad sack, who suffers from a stutter and generally inappropriate social demeanor. He’s not someone I would consider a friend, really, but I challenge you to spend more than five minutes with the guy and not feel both sorry for him and WAY better about yourself. Initially, he asked me to help him out with professional head shots, which would be incredibly easy for me to do, and would really help him out, since he commutes to work nearly an hour and doesn’t really have a network of what you’d call “friends.”
At first, I told him that I’m retired from photography, but he persisted, and eventually I gave in. I’m such a pushover, and it’s something I’m definitely working on. The agreement for the shoot, well, this is the kick in the ass that I need to not agree to anything that I’m not comfortable with doing. And, the more I thought about it, this shoot was definitely going to be uncomfortable.
Only after I agreed did he tell me he had ended his long distance relationship with his lady friend, and would also need casual shots for “dating sites.” Ugh, I thought to myself, this is going to get weird and fast. Still, I didn’t back out, weighing the option of how I could do so and still see this person, yet knowing spending even five minutes of not work time with him was far more than I was comfortable doing. But, out of obligation, I kept my word.
The day of the shoot was a bad day at work, mostly because I was terrified of other people finding out about it, especially others who I had told before that I do not do photography anymore. I had an uncomfortable meeting with my boss to lodge a complaint about another colleague (which I posted about in earlier entries) and it didn’t go very well either.
Still when the time came for the shoot, my colleagues had all gone home for the day, and the likelihood that our photography activity would be spotted would be minimal. We had selected the cancer center where I work for the location, since it had a lot of beautiful areas for meditation and made for a nice outside backdrop. Still, the element of being so close to where people who would potentially spread the rumor of the shoot was a big factor, so I was determined to work as quickly as possible.
It didn’t matter, though, because I had taken no more than three shots when the director of the building came out to “heckle” us playfully. Of course, his office overlooked the scenic vista where we were working, and my delusion that no one would notice was immediately dispelled. I told my client that the likelihood this would now be shared with my boss was now imminent and any hope of keeping this project quiet was not going to happen. He told me that he would take care of it, but knowing him, he is a man of few loyalties and his word would probably have no sway.
As the shoot progressed, the client turned from nervous guy into creepy fledgling bachelor. I should note that the guy has terrible teeth, super obvious hair plugs and was old enough to be my father, yet he didn’t hesitate to make several inappropriate comments to me while we worked. I normally keep up some witty banter when shooting, as it keeps people at ease and gives for better smiles. However, at one point I was so uncomfortable that I simply stopped talking. He did notice eventually, commenting, “I’m being inappropriate.” I agreed that he was, and he simmered down a bit as we finished the last set of shots.
Later on, as I began working on the portraits, I thought they came out well, and should be suitable for his purposes. I had a little bit of color correction to do, but otherwise, they came out looking great. However, I was troubled by his teeth, as they were rather yellowy and it did show up on the closer snaps. I decided to go by my standard rule of “if you think it, do it” and went back and cleaned up the yellow in each one.
In the end, this was my punishment for breaking my rule. Whenever I think I can do “just one more” photo shoot, I’ll remember how nauseating it was to go back and “un-yellow” some creepy old guy’s teeth for an hour straight. Hopefully that will be enough to make me stick to my guns. However, if that’s not enough, I’ll also remember the director’s secretary striking sexy poses in the door of my office the next day, literally vogue-ing at me, and telling me how the “camera loves me.” That immortal embarrassment would be enough to never touch my camera ever again.