These things were definitely NOT in the job description…
1. Amazing photos happen when the energy in the room facilitates it
The most successful photo shoots occur when the right energy comes together. Everyone in the room, be it the makeup artist, lighting assistant, photographer, and model all play their fundamental role in creating an environment for creativity to flourish abundantly. Do not work with a photographer, model, or set assistant who is negative, egotistical, or kills positive energy. The entire experience will be less than desirable, and the tension may even show up in the photos. Not to mention: you deserve to work and create with individuals who are about serving a purpose greater than themselves.
2. You must learn to develop the ability to confidently think on your feet.
Is it starting to rain? Did an outfit get an irreversible stain on it? Did the floor get ripped out without your knowledge on set in a shared studio right before a scheduled photo shoot?
With so many moving parts of a photo shoot, things can happen unexpectedly, but instead of throwing in the towel and giving up right away, often times you can find a way to get creative and make something else work. These kinds of things happen to creatives at every level of the game!! Don’t believe me:
My favorite famous story is about the Beyonce photo shoot with Markus Klinko, who were doing a photo shoot to get the cover of her album, Dangerously In Love. She originally didn’t want to wear that iconic diamond top because there were only skirt options for bottoms… So, what did Markus do?
Took off his pants, and had the superstar model his Levi’s for the studio album cover:
Hey, whatever works…and that certainly did! Now, this case is probably a single exception…
If a photographer takes his pants off in a photo shoot, there is ample reason to be concerned. 😅
3. Teaching people how to walk is hard work.
Work with aspiring models on a runway and you will quickly realize how much psychology goes into knocking down their walls of self doubt, insecurity, and fear. This is no easy task, especially in the allotted time of a two hour session. Creating a fun, relaxed environment is paramount to lasting, meaningful impact. Lucky for them, I’m not afraid to let my weird light shine bright when I teach. I am the fearless scapegoat of any perceived judgement, and I am perfectly okay with this. If I can get them to laugh at me, chances are I can get them to laugh at themselves, and stop taking this whole walking thing too damn seriously…
4. Everyone’s goals are different
Yes, I may be an agent, and my role to my talent is to train them to develop marketable traits and to obtain materials to be competitive in the field, and then to book them into jobs. But, I’m not just an agent. I’m a coach, mentor, rock band singer, semi retired opera singer, Gaga fan, oldest sister… I am a dynamic human. Knowing this helps me to remember that the agency talent are also multidimensional humans who have their own personal and professional goals. And, those goals are priority and secondary to the agency’s goals.
I want the people I represent to become good humans and people before they become good talent…because I know that when they put the time in to do the work and develop their character, they will show up as the best, most confident version of themselves. And THAT is what I know will bring them success–not just in the agency, but in LIFE.
5. Embrace Change, and develop your OWN strategy.
Upon taking the reins of the agency, I was continuously reminded by other people of the way “things have been done”. And, while I knew they had their best intentions at heart, I had to learn to let go of what other people THOUGHT I should be doing in favor of what I knew would be far more effective, efficient, and competitive in a fast paced, and ever changing industry. Now, this wasn’t to say I haven’t made my share of mistakes–I certainly have. BUT I’ve learned that self reflection is a much more effective metric of figuring out how to adjust and move forward. Otherwise, you’re just throwing other people’s darts at a board hoping something will work…And even if one of them does stick by chance, there is no intentional strategy behind it, so there is no way to be consistent.
And consistency is key…
By teaming up with someone who understands that change is necessary for success, I’ve learned I can move toward goals more fearlessly. Krystle, the fabulous agency assistant, is so fantastic and we work so well together because we favor strategy over perceived perfection. We can openly bounce new ideas off each other, leading to trying out new procedures and ideas, while honing our strategy to become even sharper.
It really all comes back to that positive energy concept I mentioned in #1: Work with people who want to move forward in the same direction, and you will save yourself time by not having to work alongside people who believe they are “already there”. Otherwise, you will waste time submerged in their trivial energy competitions–pitted in vanity and ego, clearly rooted in insecurity.
That said, it’s important to realize that we are all humans and all susceptible to the human ego. Check yourself. Keep a beginner’s mindset with childlike wonder. Understand there is ALWAYS more to learn as technology and society–and therefore the industry–changes. Work hard, stay humble, and remember why you started in the first place.
Remember that story of Markus Klinko? Before he was a famous photographer shooting album covers with Beyonce, he was an internationally renowned classical harp player, who traveled to play in symphonies all over the world. After a hand injury that left him unable to play the very instrument that gave his life meaning, he decided that he would find a new instrument:
A Fujifilm GX680111 camera.
(That’s right, all of his shots of David Bowie in the early 2000’s were not shot by a Cannon or Nikon.)
Photography became his passion, and by staying humble, determined, and always kind, not only did he find genuine fulfillment, he eventually opened a full exhibit in the Lincoln Center in New York City, displaying many photo captures from Lady Gaga to Kate Winslet, Vogue covers and all kinds of mega brand collaborations.
The takeaway? Be a Markus Klementi. Be brave enough to try new things, value people as the multifaceted creatures they are, self reflect, and always be open to learning…you just might learn some pretty renowned, unconventional lessons. ❤️
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Read Next: Defining Where Fear Comes From HEY YOU!! Want to move forward in your passions but not quite sure what’s holding you back? Here’s my opinion: it’s probably something deeper than sheer laziness. It just might be FEAR…even if you don’t realize it. By defining where our fears are coming from, we can put them into perspective so that they no longer subconsciously control us. In this blog, I’ll use personal examples from my own previous fears, and how I’ve learned to punch fear in the face and level up to the person 12 year old me would be proud of. 🙌