Several years ago, a friend of mine asked me if I could get tickets for her daughter and a friend to see the hot new singer Avril Lavigne. Of course, I offered to take them to the concert with me. I called the publicist to ask for a photo pass and arranged with the promoter to buy a couple of tickets. Figured I would get the girls to their seats, shoot some of the show and then head back to meet them when I was done. They were 14 and perfectly capable of sitting by themselves for a while! A couple of days later, I received the photo contract for Avril by email. What a shock! It was one of the most restrictive contracts I have ever seen- all for a young girl with one album out. (Three songs, could only sell photos to one magazine, photo approval necessary). Of course, I declined to shoot, and spent the show in the lobby of the theater, talking to all the other parents and friends who had brought kids to the event. I wonder if Avril’s career would have proceeded differently if her handlers had not spent so much time “protecting” her from the media. Maybe she would still be able to sell out large venues today. I also wonder if she even knew that this was going on in her behalf!
In the 1980’s, one of my biggest clients was Playboy magazine. They had a section in the back of the magazine called Grapevine. This included a few pictures of starlets that “accidentally” exposed themselves in public, or posed nude on purpose to gain publicity. Interspersed among these pictures were some photos of up and coming musicians and actors, fully clothed but doing something interesting. Whenever a publicist would call the music editor of Playboy to ask how they could get their artist in the magazine, they editor would refer them to me and suggest that they let me photograph the artist. She would then consider the photo for a later issue of the magazine. So… One day I received a call from a publicist from a major label asking me if I wanted to photograph a new artist they had by the name of Tori Amos, who was playing at a small club near my house the next week. I said sure, but we should try to do a photo shoot at soundcheck as she played piano, the club was kind of small, and it would be hard to get a good photo during the performance. We set up a shoot for 5PM the day of the show, and she asked me if I could bring a makeup artist (at my expense). Figuring that Tori would become famous soon, and the pictures would be better with proper makeup, I agreed. I hired a makeup artist ($200.00, the amount I was getting paid for the photo by Playboy, but a good investment for the future). At 4PM, I went home to pick up my equipment and meet the makeup artist to head to the show. I checked the blinking light on my answering machine, and listened to a message from the publicist canceling the shoot, no explanation. I paid the makeup artist and sent her home, The next day I called Playboy and the music editor told me that the publicist had called her and apologized for the situation, telling her that she didn’t realize that the magazine that Tori would be in would have pictures of naked women in it, and since Tori was a feminist, she would be angry!