February 18, 2011

Gag Me

Let me start this post by saying that I'm TRULY appreciative of ALL the work I get from Conde Nast and the other publications I work for. It's not their fault that I have to deal with all these huge egos.

The other day I got an assignment from WWD to shoot the (new) "Queen of Pop" at Trump Soho Hotel. The night before, I struggled with what type of lighting to use, taking into consideration she's been shot 50 million times before and I didn't want to do something everyone else had already done. I was told to be there at 9:30am and was assured I would be the only photographer shooting. I don't do the paparazzi thing nor the red carpet and I rarely do shoots if there's another photographer there unless it's an "in house" guy documenting the event. I arrived early to find that the "promotion machine" was already in full swing. A separate elevator for crew, assistants, PR people, security guys, stylists, makeup artist, MAC reps (sponsors), journalists, caterers and many random people mumbling into headsets... A major ordeal. The area where we were shooting was a magnificent space on the 43rd floor with one of the most amazing terraces I've ever seen overlooking everything north from Soho. Incredible views.

I waited out on the terrace taking snapshots and was finally told that they were ready for me. I decided on using a ring flash for a stark clean look. The "mega star" walked into the makeshift studio like some sort of royalty and I introduced myself. MAC had put up a banner-like thing called a "step and repeat" which is a background like the ones they have on the red carpet with their logo slapped all over it. Another great example of corporate sponsored bullshit. Anyway, she stepped onto the background, put her hand on her hip, struck a pose and I popped off 3 frames to test the light. Gag says, "I think we have it." Amused, I bristled and said, "No, we don't have it--I need more." I got her to step back on the lovely "banner" and asked her for some variation in her pose. Her response: "No." Then I asked her to smile... and again she said, "No." I asked if I could put her on a gray background for a variation and she told me to ask her publicist who sort of smirked and said, "Not gonna happen." Then "Gag" looked over my shoulder and made me delete the images she didn't like AND had her people write down the specific frame numbers she would "allow" to be printed. Two frames out of the eight that I shot (#'s 9468 & 9470, if anyone cares). Then, as fast as she appeared, she disappeared. I was promised 5 minutes (which is ridiculous) and I actually got about 2 minutes. I always find it funny that photographers are NEVER given ample time to do their craft. Can "Gag" write a song in 2 minutes? Can a builder make anything in 2 minutes? Do doctors do operations in 2 minutes? Can Picasso make a painting in 2 minutes? Can Spielberg make a short film in 2 minutes? How the hell does anyone expect me to create a cover shot in 2 minutes?

I was amazed at the number of people at this shoot/event/fiasco. All these "parasites" grouped around her either taking orders or barking out orders and all of them terrified that something might upset "The Queen of Pop". Such bullshit! Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame Lady G....

Eight frames. I dragged my ass out at 8:00am with 150 lbs of equipment for 8 stinking frames... Amazing. Makes me Gag!

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