Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Watch What You Say and How You Act

Many a time I've been heading into a client's office for a meeting, and stepped on the elevator with one or two other folks. On the ride up, I was concious that, maybe one or two of the other folks I am in the elevator with may end up being in the meeting with me, so I'd better not say anything that would put me in a poor light. My tie better be adjusted, or I shouldn't be finishing a donut or soda while heading skyward.

Sometimes, I am rushing to get somewhere I am late for, and I am concious for this same reason about holding doors for others entering and leaving. Going up in an elevator, and having the assistant ask "so, what's this we're doing", and then a casual/short-hand remark like "oh, it's just another press conference" could be easily miscontrued as my not caring about it, and perhaps the person in the elevator is involved with the organization that hired me. I do care about the press conference, I wasn't saying "...just another..." to be critical, just matter-of-fact, but it's easily misconstrued.

On one occasion, early in my carreer, I was heading to photograph a wedding, rushing to get the the reception before the bride and groom's limo so I could capture their arrival. I was behind a slow-poke, and when they were not "off the line" after a red light, I tooted my horn to alert them to the green. Sadly, I remained behind them until we both got to the reception, where they turned out to be good friends of the happy couple. Now, I was able to explain that away, but I forever learned to not make a mistake like that again.

Following an event, my assistant often wants to talk about the assignment once we leave the shoot location, and often we're either in an elevator going down, or walking to the car. I always raise my finger to my lips (a la the photo) and we discuss it only once we're safely ensconced in our own cone of silence that is my Jeep. You never know who's in the elevator, or will walk past you while you may be making a casual remark that could be misconstrued and then conveyed to the client.

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Andrew Smith said...

What a coincidence that you would post this today!

Not photography related but I do some voluntary work in the café at my village hall. There's a professional chef who comes into work one day each week (also voluntary) and I usually work with her. Well today I heard that I've been making negative comments about her to other volunteers, accusing her of various things that I won't go into here. Fiction of course, I haven't said any of it (apart from one thing that was taken out of context, and had actually been said in a positive way) but it seems that someone has decided to paint me as a gossip, and quite a nasty one at that.

Whatever work I'm doing, whether it's my café work or my own photography, I am always conscious of maintaining a professional demeanour. But you still need to watch your back when there are people with agendas, or even people who just want to cause trouble for their own amusement.

Then again, in photography I'm probably more guarded because I'm aware of what a competitive market it is, so people may be more inclined to bad-mouth a rival. You don't expect it to happen at the village hall though! :-)

Unknown said...

Being an architect poses its own problems and hurdles to overcome related to this topic as well. So many times we are out on the construction site, and you have to be very conscious of no tonly if your client's are around, but of all the workers as well. Many times I have to remind people everyone on site, from day laborers to master carpenters are in essence, our "clients", and we cannot speak freely in front of them. This attitude of discretion does not come easily to me, but the first time it saves you, it is more than worth it.

Ryan McGehee said...

I always say you never know who will be your future boss or customer so always watch how you act and what you say.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, you mean photographers speak badly of other shooters?

I tell my assistants and crew to keep their mouth shut.

I've had stylists ruin a client relationship because they can't shut up about such and such. I've had an assistant tell others about a shoot when they promised they would keep info about the shoot confidential.

I've had other photographers get crazy and get super competitive and badmouth me or others.

If I just mention their behavior, it back fires.

Photographers as a lot can be pretty good people, but can also exhibit some paranoid and self-destructive behavior.

I've learned to control my temper, keep my mouth shut and just say no to clients when it doesn't feel right. Gut instinct is a great teacher.

If an assistant, producer or stylist talks out of shop and I hear about it, they get one warning. If it was really bad, they don't get hired again and come off the recommended list.

In the end, it comes down to, I don't trust anybody in this business to keep their mouth shut and just work. So, I don't say anything that could hurt me. (well, I try)

Anonymous said...

Good post. Sometimes we forget that even though we're not "on the job" -- we still are...and so should conduct ourselves accordingly.

First impressions are the strongest, and are difficult to "reverse" (so to speak).

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