Most photographers are pretty decent people. In media scrums, we’re all trying to do our job and get “the shot”, and we usually work together and help each other out. But then there’s them. Let’s call them Captain Hook and Cruella DeVil. They work together and everyone cringes when they come around.
It’s the shoving, the kicking, the hands in front of lenses. It’s worse than the fall of Saigon, It’s worse than toddler time at Toys R Us. It’s worse than Wal-Mart on Black Friday. I’ve come out of events with scratch marks down my arms, bruises on my shins and heel marks on the tops of my feet and my camera equipment.
Writing it down, it seems laughable; but such a lack of respect and habitual disregard of professional courtesy is certainly not funny to me.
Last week they took it to a whole new level of low. We were photographing a number of celebrities including most of the cast of SCTV. Captain Hook started the pushing and shoving, while Cruella was mauling equipment and digging her stilettos into anything she could find.
At one point my assistant was literally holding me up by the back of my dress so I wouldn’t fall over. Why? Because they were in for the kill and taking no prisoners. That included the performers. They inched closer and closer before finally overwhelming them. It was somewhat frightening. At one point I suggested we all take a giant step backwards to give the celebs some breathing room. Captain Hook said “good idea”, then stepped right in front of me and Cruella drew up beside him, scratching another photographer on the way.
Cruella almost drew blood when I brought Paul Shaffer’s aunt to him. “No, no, no, no. YOU and that woman get out of my shot!”
Are you telling me you won’t let Paul’s aunt say goodbye to him before heading back to Thunder Bay?
“Yes! GET OUT!”
It got to the point that Martin Short was visibly angry and finally insisted that “this is enough. You’ve got your shots.” I hadn’t, by the way, though I have some great ones of Cruella’s nails in my lens. Even Andrea Martin, who’s always so lovely and even keeled, seemed shaken.
I found this all particularly interesting in light of the court inquiry going on in the UK. Last week was filled with testimonials detailing the assaults from the media. Statements were given from A-List celebrities including Sienna Miller, Hugh Grant and JK Rowling as well as the parents of Maddie McCann.
What I kept thinking was these are the people I grew up watching and loving. They’ve given us so much, so why would we treat them like that? All for a photograph?
We’ve all got deadlines and editorial content to fulfill, but there’s a way to do it without being an asshole. I would tell Captain Hook & Cruella that, but the real problem is they already know it.