Today, I am on assignment in New Orleans, and after the scout and with some down time, we found ourselves wandering the Canal Street Mall. Not much to see. In fact, it looks like every other mall in America - a Saks, movie theater, Kenneth Cole, and, yes, a Brooks Brothers.
So, looking to kill some time, I walked in, and asked if they had something close to a duster.
The sales clerk - was a well dressed young man, early to mid-30's. He walked us to and fro, showing me things that clearly were nowhere near a duster. I was, you see, looking for something that wasn't a trench coat, and also not a sports coat, but something in-between both length-wise and weight wise. The clerk in this fine mens' clothing store, kept showing me the wrong things. So I, and my first assistant left.
It was a few moments later, that my second assistant, who was outside on a call, came looking for us (we had left to wander aimlessly), and overheard the clerk who had been assisting us, asking his colleague "what's a duster?" And, the colleague gave him the answer, as was reported to me when she caught up to us elsewhere in the mall.
I was shocked. Honestly. It wasn't like I had walked into a TJ Maxx, or a Marshalls, and asked for a duster. I walked into a store that specialized in fine mens' clothing (and outdoor clothing as well). Who sells all sorts of books about the nuances and details of mens' clothing. And this clerk didn't know what I was talking about. Nor did he ask me what one was - he just acted like he did as he walked me back and forth the length of the store several times.
There is a lesson in here.
You too must know your product and service - photography. Backwards and forwards. Do you know what circles of confusion are? Why an 85mm f1.2 looks better at f4 than an 85mm f2.8 at the same aperture? Do you know what flash duration is? What about Scheimpflug? Ok, let's try something easier - what is the color temperature of Tungsten? What about guide numbers? How are they calculated?
Ok - a little too bookworm-ish?
When a client says they want a "high key" image - do you get it?
When a client says we pay "2/10 net 30 are you ok with that?" What will be the impact to you on a $500 invoice? a $9,800 invoice? (and show your work.)
When a client asks if you have a COI, what do you answer?
There is a lot to learn, and the truly wise man knows he knows nothing. Yet, I am not asking you to cite Newton's Law, Einstein's Theory, or even Murphy's law. I am asking you questions about the nuances and details of your profession. Knowing these things can define you as a true professional, a craftsman. Not these answers alone, of course, but they do contribute to the overall benefit and knowledge-base you bring to a shoot, and how your value is established.
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