When I graduated college I had a hard time finding and keeping a job. I mean, a really hard time. It was 2009 and most of my jobs up to then paid minimum wage. I was scared of lying about what I had earned, and since most jobs pay according to your previous job, I knew I was screwed.
Eventually I found a part-time job taking pictures for a guy who ran a store, wanted publicity pics, and wanted my pictures so he could sell his clothes online (he turned out to be a bit of a creep who didn’t have a driver’s license for reasons he didn’t want to mention). Thankfully this boss paid on time. At the time my dream was to be able to make a living doing anything creative I knew how to do: drawing, being a photographer, writing. Whatever it was I just wanted not to work for The Man and control my work schedule as much as I could.
Every day was a struggle sifting through Craigslist ads that offered substandard pay or had hired people before I even had a chance to email my resumé. There were jobs postings passing out flyers, fixing bikes, canvassing*, doing whatever it was—and I never got so much as an email back from anyone.
I became an expert at interviews, finding suits that never fit, and pretending to be someone I wasn’t just so I could get a proverbial check that never came. I saw an ad that was for “paparazzi style photographers,” and, in my desperation, sent them my CV.
My email history states that I sent them my pathetic plea for a job on 4th August 2009, and got an answer on my 23rd birthday, 6th August 2009. I sent them a link to my Flickr account, which is more like a diary of a broke traveler than a photography portfolio that could never have been taken seriously.
I met with this French guy named Blair who was sweaty, looked at my Canon 20D and felt I could do something with this. He hired me immediately and gave me Kirstie Alley’s address, a guide to restaurants and clubs frequented by celebrities. I had never been one to read gossip columns. Even as a teenager I had rarely bought teen magazines because I was more interested in reading Circus, Rolling Stone, and Guitar World (because in another lifetime I also wanted to be a rock star).
Determined, I set sail into the traffic-laden streets of Los Angeles on a ridiculously hot day and parked in front of Kirstie Alley’s house so I could diligently stake her out, take an inoffensive picture, and make a few bucks. I bought a Gatorade just in case, filled up my gas tank, and did what I felt had to be done.
Of course, I understated the fact that Kirstie Alley has been in the industry forever and probably had a plan to avoid professional paparazzi monsters. A wanna-be rookie like myself had no chance. Blair called me and mentioned that Alley’s red-headed assistant would probably come out, and that there would be a monkey in the front. He wanted a picture of Alley petting the monkey.
I only saw the redhead.
Hours went by and I was melting, cursing Blair off in my head. I opened my car windows because there was no way I’d turn on the A/C (I was broke and didn’t want to run out of gas or have the battery run out of juice in a rich neighborhood where I was sure I’d get the cops called on me faster than I’d get any help).
Eventually Blair got on my nerves and after about 6 hours of being the worst paparazzi in the world I left, wiped my face, and was never sent anywhere again. Yeah, I could’ve used the addresses of those restaurants or places where famous people dine out and just wait for them to walk out so I could sell a picture, but I was too principled (and lazy) to even try. I went back home, scoured Craigslist, and probably caught up on Bones because I’m a geek like that.
*This is another job from hell I had.