I was recently made fun of and basically shamed in front of my peers. I wanted to highlight the incident to show how it happens every day. The pressure we put on others in our society and the unspoken “waste mentality” just fuels the fire for our “cancel culture.” I want to shed light on this especially for my younger friends and followers. This kind of shaming isn’t talked about as much as it should be. It’s not politically correct these days to tell people to “kiss your ass” so I’ll do it for you. I wish more people would just tell people to either mind their own business or call them out when they are just being shallow and unreasonable. Read Golden Peeps.
I was at a video shoot where I was taking behind-the-scenes stills. This can be a very chill and easy job. Personally, I like to go the extra mile and grab the talent any chance I can they are not performing. They are paying me and we can document the day or grab photos to use for upcoming album art or social media. I can do something more creative & controlled in one of the vignettes before the film crew strikes it and moves on. You need to be ready to rock and GET these shots without being intrusive or interfering with the shooting flow the big dogs have on the agenda.
I have a really great Canon camera. It may not be the NEWEST body on the block, but it’s amazing and expensive. I got it USED. Like I do MANY of my cameras, lenses, and gear needed to shoot photos or video. I bought this particular camera body with some cosmetic damage on it, just like ME! That saved me like $800.00. No one knows but me, but if you feel the need to get that close to me to look at my camera then you may have issues.
You should never feel ashamed to buy used. You should actually feel GREAT and PROUD you know something many don’t. Being smart with your money can actually help you MAKE money, save and not just break even or go in the hole like I see so many shooters doing. Facebook Marketplace is the FIRST place I check now. It’s local. The exchange can happen at the snap of your fingers. Next, is Craigslist followed by eBay. One has to pay for shipping there so it’s my last resort as the shipping prices are usually crazy because that’s where they sneak in the “extra” amount for the goods. For example, the item is $30.00 and sounds like a great deal until you see the shipping in fine print at $39.99.
I had a little rig the camera was mounted to, then an external flash on top of that. It looks like the old red carpet paparazzi-style gimmick photographers used. It’s perfectly fine, but someone pointed out and laughed, “Oh the old Stroboframe… hahaha. They still even make those?” “Yes, it still works PERFECTLY I said.” This kid acted like I was shooting with an old dildo attached to a hot shoe with a flash duct-taped to it. He scoffed at me and literally turned his nose up at me. He made me feel really badly for a second. I literally felt like Rudolf The Red-Nosed Raindeer being made fun of by his peers, but only for a second. I soon regained my composure and got my creative vibe back.
I secretly laughed knowing his day rate and that I was probably getting paid more than all of the grips combined. I do great work, keep my mouth shut and try my best to treat people with kindness and respect. You’ll get an occasional “choice word” from me occasionally all in fun but all above the belt.
He was busy making fun of me and getting the other crew to join in his “lame deer” games and I was laughing all the way to the bank. You see my father always taught me, TAKE CARE OF YOUR GEAR! Everything I bought or was given as a child I was taught to respect and get the most out of its life. Clothing, records, CDs, musical gear, and any electronics. He told me to buy the best quality you could afford. I always have. My Stroboframe may be old but it’s mint. In this disposable culture where if you don’t have the latest and greatest thing it gets tossed, I keep mine in perfect order and usually forever. Then I have more money to buy something new in another gear category thus BUILDING to my repertoire rather than “replacing” it. It’s called playing Monopoly. You can’t get ahead if you’re constantly taking steps backward. If you’ve outgrown the equipment that’s fine you can sell it. You will get a great price especially since you’ve taken good care of it. Let any negative words from your peers roll off your backs Golden People. They probably don’t own any of the things they joke about, they RENT them.
Another tip besides buying used and keeping your gear mint is “BUY UGLY!” What do I mean? Let me bring you along on another laughing fest I experienced.
Video lights can be super pricey. You will eventually need to travel with them or give them a ride on a plane but many times they don’t ride first-class or coach. They get kicked around beneath the plane usually by some angry airline worker having a bad day. We’ve all looked out the window and seen that person going postal with OUR luggage while watching gadgets worth thousands of dollars being tossed around like trash. PROTECT your investment!
Many people buy a hardshell case or a Pelican cargo case. These cases are $200.00 – $400.00 and up and indeed a great investment, but if you’re starting out you want to MAKE money you need a different option. I will help you by introducing you to the “old lady thrift store hard-shelled suitcase.” It’s usually “bull sh!t brown” or a “gross grey.” You know the ones with the cobwebs on them in the back of the thrift store no one wants. Something else no one wants are those egg crate foam mattress toppers kicking around at charity shops.
Your grandma probably has one on her bed. People donate them and they collect dust at second-hand stores because they think someone already “dumped” ON them! Just give them a good scrub in the tub or clean on gentle in the washing machine. You can pick up this foam beauty with the old suitcase for approx $5.00 – $10.00 total combined price.
Cut out the foam to fit inside both sides of the suitcase, place the egg crate downwards if you want to, cut out where the gear will lie, and BAM! You just saved a ton of cash. Roll some black fabric paint on the foam if it reminds you too much of a nursing home. Your new protective carrying case will be as good as new!
I get laughed at EVERY time when I roll up to the job with this ugly little ditty. Again I laugh all the way to the bank because my gear actually MAKES it! Many of my fellow shooters get their gear STOLEN or it mysteriously goes missing at the airport. You may find it interesting to know why. They basically put a bullseye on those cameras and lights because everyone knows if they see a Pelican case there is something expensive inside. You basically have a sign on them saying “steal me.” It’s one of the most stolen items at airports to this day. No one ever thinks twice about my crusty old folk’s valise and that’s fine by me. It’s functional, works, and people leave it alone.
The Golden take home is the next time someone starts mocking you or making fun, put your hand in your pocket and bend back your thumb, pointer, ring, and pinky finger. Leave the remaining finger extended, you know the one. You’re in charge of your own destiny and success in your life. No one else is going to pay your bills. Remember that the next time someone jeers. Be proud you are working at all, having jobs, and getting booked. Treat your clients with kindness and respect. Take the BEST care of your tools you can and shop wisely. I’m here to tell you, you are OK! You are building and making things happen. No one will EVER be looking at HOW you achieved the outcome you did, what you used or carried it in. They just will see the final product and be wowed. Besides, if you’re reading this, you’re MY friend, and my friends are the REAL deal!
For all the creators out there especially during the pandemic, keep the faith and keep walking your walk. Find the most cost-effective ways to just keep on going. I’m proud of you all and cheering you on!
Stay safe out there and always, Stay Golden.