Here’s a quick, fun story. I was hired to photograph Shirley MacLaine for the premiere of a new film she was starring in. I was excited about it, but also approached the entire session with a degree of trepidation, her reputation as a Hollywood lioness preceded her. Before the shoot I was contacted by her publicist who told me in no uncertain terms that I better have my act together because Shirley did not suffer fools gladly, and that I would have a certain (very short) length of time to get my shot. I was also warned that if the shoot did not go to Miss MacLaine’s liking she would bolt without hesitation. Well…ok, I’ve dealt with pressure before and I was not going to run away from this challenge, I was going to stick my head right in the lioness’s mouth.
I got my lighting set and tested it on Kerry and basically prepared for anything that might possibly go wrong. Part of being a professional is trying to predict any element of the system that might break down and having a back up for it. Murphy’s Law is always proportionate to the importance of the event it is affecting. In other words, the bigger the stakes in screwing up, the more chance it will happen. On days like the Shirley MacLaine shoot, Murphy would be working overtime, so I had to assume that and prepare accordingly. Deep into the night before the shoot I organized, tested and tried to find the answer for any breakdown in the system.
The big day came, Miss MacLaine arrived and contrary to my expectations, everything went according to plan. And the shots were great. After the shoot, I was escorted into the theater and given a seat in the front row. Miss MacLaine was in attendance and was slated to speak before the film was shown. She arrived to much hoopla and was walked down the aisle and seated right next to me! Waiting her turn at the podium set up in front of the screen, she got adjusted in her seat and then turned to catch me in the beams of her amazing blue eyes. “You’re the photographer, aren’t you?” She challenged. Well, I did have a camera with a giant zoom lens around my neck, so there was no hiding the fact. “Yes” I half whispered, not knowing what was coming next. She fixed me in her stare and in her best lioness growl roared, “You did good. And you know, I would rather have great lighting, and a great photographer…THAN A MAN!” Close encounter with a Hollywood legend and I lived to tell about it.