Tales From The Trenches: Jeff vs. The Paparazzi
There's a little guy, with a big attitude. I'll call him Napoleon. You'll see him stalking around with his camera, working for a paparazzi agency.
Recently an old classic threat scenario occurred at a function. A guest accidentally stepped on Napoleon's shoe. This is when all hell broke loose. Napoleon's paparazzi eyes lit up with fire and malice, salivating, as if an Angelina Jolie exclusive shot were within distance of his telephoto lens. The feisty little paparazzo screamed "back off man, you step on my shoe one more time and it's over!" Over, I thought to myself? Buddy listen, don't make a scene. Are you going to lay the smack down for getting your pumped up kicks stepped on?
I calmly walked over, ready to mediate the situation. You know, the kind of situation that could only rationally occur at a 5 a.m. bar, when a drunk guy, 12 shots deep in a Jameson whiskey haze, tries to fight another guy for changing "Free Bird" on the electric jukebox.
The next thing you know it, Napoleon takes it to the next level, accusing the guy of pushing him. "You pushed me, i'm calling the cops and you're going to jail!" The man quickly responded "I am a cop." Oh the sweet irony. At this point I had to step in. "Hey, let it go Napoleon, i'm sure no one meant to step on your shoe. Everyone is good, let's not make a scene. Let it go buddy. Be an adult, be a professional. Think about what you're doing."
At this point, paparazzi guy was livid. He got in my face, giving me a shove, "you know what, your an F'ing A'hole!" I looked curiously, shocked and rather amused. Napoleon's revenge? Walking right up to the celebrity guest who was doing an interview and popping 10 full power flashes directly into their eyes. I don't know if you know what that's like...but it's kind of like looking into the sun for 10-12 seconds. Blinding is an understatement. It was at this point I went into photographer security guard mode, stepped in front of him and made sure he didn't harass the celebrity guest anymore.
Let's be honest here and reflect...Napoleon's twice my age and acting like a kid who just spilled his chocolate milk on his ghostbusters t-shirt. And if you're reading this in disbelief, it certainly is unbelievable. I haven't witnessed an incident so ridiculous, since grade school when a kid accidentally hit himself in the face with a pole, while playing tetherball, being a little over aggressive on the finishing move. Let me continue...
There was three fundamental mistakes this guy made in dealing with me:
He assumed I don't protect my clients and their guests in a professional and dignified manner.
He thought by egging me on, he could make me lose my cool. A frivolous attempt, since I have ice running thru my veins when i'm working. I don't throw elbows over getting a foot stepped on. I'm like a lethal mental weapon. The best defense against people like that is to just observe the madness and keep calm. I've got a PhD in crazy situations.
He didn't know I was a photo ninja, and any frivolous attempt to outsmart me or take better pictures than me was impossible (yes i'm being sarcastic, but not really).
Later in the night, Napoleon approached me and apologized, saying he can be a hot head and lose his cool. "No problem" I said, "just make sure you think before you act next time." Game, Set, Match. Always keep your cool.
Listen, i'm not going to lie, it was incredibly annoying and rather shocking. But now you understand my famous comparison, "calling a photographer a paparazzi is like calling a ballerina a stripper."