You Are Not Smart.

This last week has been a tough one.  I’ll spare you most of the gory details, but I want to share with you one of the harder elements.

About five months ago I met with a magazine here to show my book and got a really fantastic response.  By the time I got home I had a few emails from them thanking me for coming out to meet them and that they were looking forward to working together soon.  About two months ago I sent them an email asking them about their plans for the September issue and told that I’d been working with some great designers and that I had some ideas for a fashion piece.  This started an email conversation that went on for about a week.  I pitched two ideas to the art director who then pitched it to the main editor and told me she’d get back with me as soon as she heard anything.

I went to Memphis and tried to forget that I had that iron in the fire.  As a freelancer, you’re always juggling things, always applying for jobs, sending off portfolios, meeting with potential clients, pitching stories, pitching yourself, essentially.  At first, I really hung on to each time I’d put myself out there.  As the time has gone on, I’ve found that this is an exhausting way to get work.  Slowly, it’s been easier to leave a meeting or send a portfolio and forget about it.  Not always, but sometimes.  One of my friends is an actor and he talks about the same thing.  He goes in, reads his lines, and forgets immediately.  Forgetting aside, this was a magazine I’d wanted to shoot with for a while and I felt like everything was aligning to shoot a great story when I got back from Memphis.

Upon my return, I sent an email to my contact and got a response from someone else at the magazine telling me that she was no longer with them, and asked what he could do for me.  I forwarded him the conversation I’d had with her and explained where I’d gotten with her in regards to the story.  I got an email back saying he’d look it over and get back with me.  And then a week went by.

I sent a gentle follow up email asking where things were, reiterating my interest in working with them and got nothing back.  I called the office a few days later and he wouldn’t take my call.  It was one of those “Let me see if he’s available” situations.  Well, I’ve been there, and he’s either sitting there beside you or he’s not.  It’s not one of those newsrooms from 80s movies where everyone is banging away on typewriters in some 12,000 sq ft downtown converted warehouse. So obviously, I’m getting the brush off.

The September issue came out this week and I grabbed a copy Saturday evening.  I flipped through to find the fashion essays and there, with seven pages of real estate, is my story.  Except I didn’t shoot it.  It wasn’t frame for frame the story we’d discussed, but it was close enough that I only had to see the first image to know where it was going.

I’ll take it on the chin that I probably gave away too much in my emails.  While I am usually very tight lipped about these things, I’d built up enough of a relationship with them that I didn’t insist on an in-person meeting and I felt that there was enough mutual respect that I wouldn’t have to worry.  Apparently I’d made a misjudgment.

I flipped through the rest of the magazine and there was an interview with Henry Rollins where they’d asked him what he would say to his younger self if he could go back in time and impart some wisdom.  He answered: “You are not smart.  Get tougher faster.”

And I guess that really sums it up.  Get tougher faster.  It’s business.  Whatever that means.  Still–as I’m looking at this story which should have my name on it instead of this other guy–it’s hard not to get a little miffed.  We’ve talked about this before, but it’s a difficult thing to divorce yourself from the work.  I’d like to be that Zen motherfucker, but I feel like I’ve got a ways to go.

Enjoy these photos of Juice on medium format.

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12 thoughts on “You Are Not Smart.

  1. Love these photos. What a terrible thing to happen. Your photos are beautiful and creative, and I know there are more things to come for you, even better than that one. I was a magazine photo editor, granted it wasn’t fashion, but I would never even think of such a thing. Madness. And I know talent when I see it. You are it.

    It’s not the same, but if you are a match for our photography collective, we’d love to feature you and your work. There is more info on the site, and feel free to e-mail if you have any questions.

  2. Wow. That’s harsh. 😦 I’ve been in similar situations. It’s hard to divorce yourself from your work when your ideas are creations that you watch grow and mature before your eyes.

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