I’m often asked… “How I got the shot?”

I answered the phone.

Nothing frustrates me more than when I ask someone “Why didn’t you call back?”, and the response is “My battery was dead” or “I left my phone in the car”. My next comment is “If you were the captain of the plane, we’d all be dead!”

My point is this, you might be a great photographer, but if you don’t have professional phone skills, the odds are not in your favor.

Good Etiquette

When I get called to shoot on a TV show or movie and I can’t answer the phone because I’m shooting, or production is rolling and I have to be quiet, I text back that I’m unavailable and that I will call them back as soon as possible. This at least lets your client know you’ve received their message and are aware of their needs. I’ve been shooting in this industry for over 30 years. Even back when pagers were used, I stopped at a payphone and contacted the client. Back then you had maybe 30 minutes to call back. Today everyone has access to a cell phone. If you don’t reply within 10 minutes, that job is gone.

As far as the dead battery, get a backup battery or car charger. If you don’t have that kind of gear, what else are you lacking? If you want to be a professional photographer, then start thinking like one.

Real World Experience

I had an 11:30 call time on NCIS: Los Angeles. The show had a last minute schedule change and wanted to shoot talent sooner than planned. The Producer called me at 7:30 to see how quick I could get to the studio. I was on my way because I answered my phone! That made production happier which made me golden.

I know this is harsh, but I also know this, if I don’t do it right, someone else will. My competition is just waiting for me to screw up and jump into my shoes.

Call2 I know a photographer who in her voice message says that she is busy and asks if you can call her back. A Producer friend of mine called her regarding some work, heard her message and said to me “Are you kidding me? She wants me to call her back in my busy day to give her a job?” He said he will never call her again. Crash and burn!

Call Ahead

I understand you might not have a signal or timing is not good, but at least make an effort. The other issue is not calling if you’re running late. In Los Angeles there is always traffic and you need to know how to estimate your time. It might only be 30 miles to your location, but pending on the time of day or route you take, it could very easily be a 2 hour commute one way.Call3So I’m done ranting on how important it is to call back right away. What about a text message or email? Remember when you were first getting started and you were contacted regarding a shoot, you would drop everything you were doing and quickly reply back. Don’t ever lose your passion! If you can’t return a message, your competition will. When someone works for me, that assistant will learn how to light and command a set, how to direct talent, and will also learn how important that cell phone is in your possession. I’ve been known to say with a smile on my face “Strap that phone to your head!”

I don’t want this to be received harshly, my photo brethren, but the client can’t hire you if they can’t reach you.

Thanks for your time. I would love your thoughts on this topic.

That’s a wrap, fade to black.