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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Why I Almost Got Fired From Another Job

The closest I've ever come to joining the French Foreign Legion was on the absolute worst day of my working life, bar none. Now, I've never actually pinned my hand to the wall using a nailgun or had my head shoved into a deep fryer but for most of that day I would have preferred either of those painful moments than to endure the horrors of that day.

This was back when I was working as a photographer's assistant (pre-requisites: opposable thumbs) for a nine-month stint. The life of which usually consists of:

-Having recurring nightmares about misplacing/ breaking camera equipment.
-Resisting the urge to smash the alarm with a hammer when you've only had four hours' sleep and was facing another 14-hour day.
-Putting up lights when asked by photographer.
-Carrying heavy equipment up and down stairs.
-Remembering to bring the film (back in the bygone days where cameras used film)
-Trying not to screw up the lunch order.
-Dodging sandwiches thrown at you when you screw up the lunch order.
-Spending an unhealthy amount of time in front of the computer re-sizing, contouring and converting images from RGB to CMYK[1].

What it doesn't consist of:
-Dozens of nude models vying for your attention.

Usually one gets to be an assistant photographer by doing years of diligent study, having good computer skills[2] and owning a camera. In my case it was because I used to drink at the same bars as the photographer and just happened to visit him the week his assistant left. And it was good for a while.

The photographer was a good-hearted, immensely likable guy named Ned. A sell-refrigerators-to-Eskimos-type who can tell the lamest jokes and still get people to smile for the camera. He used to be a carpenter in his teens and was one of those people who you can give a few planks of wood and some nails to and he'd build shelves, walls, rooms in a matter of several hours.

The day in question started pretty much like any other day (nightmares, alarm clock almost getting smashed to pieces, bumping into a wall that had been put up by Ned overnight). Little did I know that I would spend the day potentially auditioning for a snuff film. Photographer Ned asked me to remove all the images on the digital camera of a wedding we shot on the weekend so we could do a job that morning. I clicked 'Delete All' on the computer and watched the images disappear one by one. Checking the camera again I see all the images were still on there. Strange. I clicked the 'Delete All' option and watched the images be obliterated again. What I realised as the images disappeared for ever was that I had deleted all the images that was downloaded onto the computer when I 'Deleted All' the first time and now I was deleting all the images that was stored in the computer.


My God

I'd just completely vaporised the happiest day of a couple's life. It's not the same as absolutely screwing up a product shot or a model shoot which would be extremely costly but ultimately re-doable. I'd destroyed an event that could never be recreated. Ever. It was then that I decided I would go to lunch and never come back.

...Or so I was seriously considering. The reason I wasn't thrown screaming from a third storey window was that I'd accidentally copied the files on to another computer the previous day- a completely unnecessary procedure- but something I had done. A happy accident that had saved me from a savage beating and a lifetime of guilt.

I have beaten anorexia,

[1] I still don't actually know what that means.
[2] Which is obviously not something I posses. I have recently been banned from several internet cafes as I freak out when people use wireless internet. I go up to these people and yell 'Sorcery! Sorcery! Sorcery!' and try to drum up enough villagers with pitchforks to stone these ungodly vermin.


Anonymous broadzilla said...

Geez, where I come from, people have been taken out back and shot for less. I've worked as a stylist on photographic shoots, so I feel your pain. Anyone who thinks being part of a stills or film crew is glamorous should form an orderly queque on the left while I go and get that nailgun.

(I know you didn't really ask, but I'm such a pedant: [1] = Converting the Red, Green and Blue colour channels in the digital image to Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key/Black ink layers, so it can be printed onto paper by a traditional 4 colour Litho press.)

12:22 am  
Blogger Fatman said...

You DO know I'm joking about not knowing the RGB to CMYK conversions right? Yes.....joking (weak laughter)

12:38 pm  
Anonymous broadzilla said...

Hey, I know people who've been in the industry for years who don't know what it means.

Please feel free to explain something breathtakingly obvious to me in a laboured and condescending way. I don't mind.

7:15 pm  
Blogger Fatman said...

(Sorry for the tardy response but my housemate Darren keeps kidnapping the computer)
Broadzilla- Do I honestly come across as a condescending guy?

3:05 pm  
Anonymous broadzilla said...

Not at all, Fats. Honestly. I was merely offering you an opportunity to be condescending because I felt bad (albeit momentarily) for making you suffer through the whole RGB conversion thing again.

7:30 pm  
Blogger Yawn said...

Nothing wrong with drumming up the locals with pitchforks to do battle against the evils of such things as Satan, witchery, scorcery, and Motley Crue (early Crue- before they got old and fat.)

And the wedding picture thing- I have felt your pain. Imagine loading huge sums of data into a software for manipulating and altering by said software, and fucking it up completely. That was me during one of my boss's monthlong drinking binges where the world suddenly becomes a jungle to her and everyone is out to destroy everything.

Lucky for me the software has a good support team that can do things to it that I can't. Remotely even.

12:06 pm  
Blogger Fatman said...

'The true Maestro folds pain into his experience.'
Clive Barker, Imajica

Yawn- I think we all have to screw up hideously a few times in our lives. I've met a guy who f-cked up a print run of 50,000 (labels for a can of soup I think it was). And who of us hasn't run over a girlfriend's pet? As you sit in your car that's drenched in canine blood and with Fido brains splattered over the fender you just have to sit, breathe and let out a slow chuckle. Tomorrow is another day.

6:30 pm  

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