Lesson; The Sting

Of all years I’ve been working commercially, I’m lucky to report that I haven’t suffered any real injuries. I’m not counting the occasional back strains and a few pinched fingers from C-stands. However, there is an asterisk to that safety record.

It pertains to a hideous gig that took place in Oklahoma City more than 20 years ago. The client was a Tulsa-based hospital that took corner-cutting to new highs. Their ad agency toadies were just as bad.

This July session had no outdoor shade, no water, and no food. But they had a shot list that tried to wedge a three-day shoot into six hours.

During the heat of the afternoon, after my assistant Todd was stung by a hornet, I also discovered that they had no first aid kit.

At that point, we had endured enough. We were both sunburned and angry. I gave Todd the sign to start packing. Within ten minutes, the car was loaded with the AC on full blast for the escape to the airport.

Incredibly, not a word was spoken by anyone. No one asked why were leaving early.

By the time we took our seats on the plane, Todd had been salved, bandaged and rehydrated. Our respective anger had subsided too. It took a nudge from a small insect for me to see that creative work is impossible for a certain category of client. It’s a lesson that I try never to forget.

About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.

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