The Politics of Fashion Photography, Part 6

Keeping Cool… Or Walking on Eggs

Your probably asking what I mean by the above phrase. In fact it means many things pertaining to the “Biz”. It can mean keeping your nose out of trouble, keeping your distance when you really want to get involved in a model’s problem with her agency, boyfriend, client etc. It can mean, don’t say too much when with the team, as in many cases they are transient and when shit happens, it gets around faster than the speed of light. It can mean, using the utter most diplomacy when speaking with a repugnant agent at an agency, who really doesn’t know her “A” from a hole in the ground. Not losing your temper, even though the top of your head is about to explode. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be enthusiastic about what your doing, but always remembering that what ever you do, will permanently engraved in the memories of those with whom you work with.

I mention these things for many reasons, but the main one, is that I am always aware of how easily one can blow it, if you are not always in check of your demeanour. One must always remember that your one bad day might be the only day that people will judge you by and no matter what anyone else says about you, it will be that one day that you will leave with others to share with everyone who mentions your name.

Once a while back, I was working for a very prestigious fashion magazine in Paris. The stylist working with me was having what I would call, her bad day. Now, I was really excited about this shoot. The location, the styling, model, hair and make-up were excellent. So, I shared my excitement with the team. The more excited I would get, the more hostile the stylist became until, I finally couldn’t handle her attitude any longer and spurted out, “…Why do you do what you do if you hate it so much. You looked bored, disinterested and totally detached. Why don’t you just get a day job!” She looked at me utterly shocked by what I said, kind of rolled her eyes and continued her negativity until I finally said, “Look, I cannot have you on the set if you continue to project your disdain of the positive energy around you. I would feel much better if you just dressed the model and get off the set, once she is done.”

Well not only did she get off of the set, she said, “Fuck You, I’m Leaving!!!” Now that really put a major dent in to the day, as without her and her assistant, we could not continue the shoot and the Editor in Chief of the magazine would most definitely not be pleased. I got on the phone to the E&C and told her what transpired. After about an hour or so, another stylist, with the same clothing showed up to the shoot and we continued for the rest of the day and the following day as well. The bad news is this… About two years later, that stylist ended up working for a magazine I would have liked to work for. As she was close to the E&C of that magazine, just the mentioning of my name was enough to get an adamant NO F’ing Way!

That is just one of many stories I could share with you regarding the importance of keeping your head cool, even if you feel that your actions were justified. Another no no, is giving models advice, especially if that model asks you the classic question; “Is my Agency good?” Trust me, you do not want to go there. If the agency gets wind of the fact that you either bad mouthed them, or even worse, suggested another agency, you will probably be black listed until all of the employees of that agency are long gone and a new generation of booker’s have taken their place.

The Politic of Fashion Photography is akin to walking on egg shells with spiked golf shoes.

Continued in Part 7

About Benjamin Kanarek
Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…