“Were it not for the last minute, a whole lotta things would never get done” ~ Cowboy Logic
I once had a little book of collected wisdom from cowboys called Cowboy Logic and among the many gems, the above quote has never left my mind since I’ve been a professional event and portrait photographer in Montreal. I can’t count the number of jobs I book with a frantic caller worried about how last minute it is, and how there is really a short window and would I be available er, this afternoon or maybe tomorrow? I am always happy to oblige whenever I can, much to the relief of my clients, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to deliver. The reality of a working photographer’s life whose clients are corporations, PR consultants, office managers or communications professionals is that their work is almost always high pressure, deadline driven projects and they are relentlessly overworked, understaffed and regularly working to the last minute.
While it seems odd that a corporate portrait is something that urgently needs doing, I am no longer surprised by the caller asking me if it is at all possible to do the shoot and have the final edited images back within 24 hours. I realized long ago that people tend to stick with any good headshot they have of themselves for as long as humanly possible. It is not uncommon for a working professional at an executive level to be using a headshot that is 5 years (or more) out of date. And then suddenly they’ve been asked to speak at a conference, or are getting a promotion, or have an article about them or their business being published and they need a new, updated corporate headshot desperately. Like right now.
I get it. Most non-models do not like having their portrait done. They are busy, and underneath their well designed polished exteriors, they suffer from the same insecurities about how they look as regular working Joes. While that CEO may be running a multi-million dollar operation, he (and yes, men seem to worry more about their appearance than women) will be conscious of how his smile looks, or if he’s showing too much teeth. So they avoid scheduling a headshot. Even though the shoot can be done in their office, and fairly quickly (as I’ve written about a few times here and here), hiring a photographer to come in for a photoshoot seems like a hassle and is likely why, when I am hired, I end up doing the whole team at the same time.
The last minute is on many projects, not just corporate or event photography related ones, the most important minute. And there’s no need to apologize or feel guilty about having to use it to get the job done. That’s just the way it is.
And if you like the way cowboys think, like I do, here’s another quote for you that is fairly irrelevant to this post, but good advice nonetheless: “Always drink upstream from the herd.”