I was in the process of shooting a national ad for Xerox and I was working with a great art director named Bob Green. I desperately wanted to shoot the ad in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but Bob wanted to shoot it in Florida. Guess where we shot it? We shot it where the client wanted it to be photographed. Why? Because he’s paying the bills and it’s always sunny in Philadelphia. Oops! I mean Florida. It was a long, difficult and tedious shoot- one of those shoots where you know you’re going to get only one usable frame out of thirty images. Everything just has to be perfect and, as we all know, there is nothing perfect in this world. Well, maybe something… Pete Turner, Neil Leifer… okay, I’m just trying to be funny. Two really great photographers. The only way we could actually get the angle that the client wanted was to get a hundred and fifty foot crane and go over the high tension wires. So at this point, obviously, I didn’t want to tell Bob Green that I was deathly afraid of heights. The way I get around my problem with heights is to put a camera around my neck, and then I feel I am protected from the elements; it may not work for everybody, but it does work for me. The ad campaign went on to win an Art Director’s award. Bob was happy, the client was happy, the buyer was happy – me, not so much. Welcome to the world of photography, where everything is a compromise.
To all the ships at sea, this is part of a chapter in my new book, “Joe DiMaggio: Recalling My Adventures from the Golden Age to the Digital Age of Photography”.
Some of the most time consuming and frustrating things when it comes to advertising photography are the one, two, and three days of preproduction, the day of test shooting, the selection of models, the half day of wardrobe fitting, waiting for the right light, lens selection, the exact fit into the layout… and when you finally nail it, there’s a combination of the two R’s – rush and relief, rapidly followed by a serious cocktail or maybe two.
Then the artwork goes back to New York, and the art department decides to write the Gettysburg Address on your photograph. I’m pretty sure they could have gotten a few more words in. It’s all good.