Sunday, August 12, 2007

the shirt

I once shot a job on a ship. It was a giant ship on a giant ocean.

On the ship were eight models. Two were black. The man had a wooden leg. He had lost it as the result of a blood clot a few years earlier.

Each day the black couple would be slated as being “heros” of at least one of the shots. They would start front and center in the frame and slowly be sent farther and farther back in the photograph until invariably they would be up a staircase or seated at a far away table. The woman of the couple got more and more upset. The man took to calling it the blackground.

A meeting was called. I set them down explained that the client had traditionally marketed predominaimnly to afflunat whites and was having a hard time going all the way and having minorities featured in their advertisng . I said I felt like there was an elephant in the living room and that something needed to be said.

He said, “You know she’s black?”
She said’Yeah but his leg is white.”

They both said they were professionals and they understood and would just go about their jobs. I said we were shuffling the schedule for the next day and they were not needed for the early morning shoot.

He said, :” Good because I am especially black at 5 in the morning”

He gave me this shirt he had worn earlier in shoot after I said how much I liked it. I can't wait to wear it.

1 comment:

Sherman said...

Hi Thomas,

Interesting post. I appreciate the honesty there. I was talking to my girlfriend one day about "lifestyle" photography. I mentioned to her that every photographer's website that I have visited, if it has a lifestyle section in the portfolio, has the same image. Bright, sunny images, filled with color and fun. And oh yeah, everyone is white. People doing "lifestyle" things - surfing, jogging, snowboarding, canoing, biking, etc, etc. Where are the people of color? I didn't know the non-whites did not participate in those activities.

And yes I am a grown-up so I understand that someone in marketing did some research somewhere and said - this population segment does X therefore our images should show this population segment - only.

Pretty sad.