As most of you know, before coming to work with Scott, I was Joe McNally’s assistant. Earlier this year, I started blogging. On my blog, I began telling the story of my first big adventure with Joe, detailing my mishaps along the way. But I never finished, much to the dismay of both of my readers. When Scott asked me to be his guest blogger for this week, I thought it might be a good opportunity to both finish the story and share it with a (much) larger audience.
Before you begin, a word of warning. It’s a bit long, so I’ve parsed it into four parts to make it a little easier to get through. As you’re reading, you’ll be thinking, “How can this get any worse??” I assure you, it can and it does. I hope you enjoy!
Part I – Always Double-Check Your Carry-On
The second job that I assisted Joe on was a portrait for AARP in Washington D.C. The subject was a lawyer who had taken up pottery in his retirement. Since it was only the second shoot I’d been on with Joe, I was still getting the hang of packing gear in the Suburban… Still learning the best place for each item to go. Location work being what it is, we had to park about half a block away from the pottery studio and walk the gear over. Of course, it also started pouring the rain.
This meant that I had to walk back and forth from the studio to the truck, in the rain, to retrieve gear that I had forgotten to bring on the initial trip. Multiple times. One of these items was a knife. The cameras have these L-brackets on them that partially cover the USB port, making it difficult to access when shooting tethered, and thus requires a knife to pry it open. “Hence”, Joe informed me, “the knives always travel with the cameras.” Okay, point taken.
The shoot went well, and Joe worked his magic to create what looked like daylight pouring in through the studio screen door when it was anything except sunshine and kitty cats outside.
Photo by Joe McNally
From D.C., we continued traveling and began working on the NCAA Basketball preview issue of Sports Illustrated. Seven colleges over the course of about two or three weeks to do portraits of the “big freshmen.”
Fast forward a week or two, and Joe and I are flying to a different city every other day. This was a new experience for me, seeing that I’d flown a total of three times in my life before this trip.
We were going through security at Salt Lake City Airport one early morning, en route to Tucson, when the TSA agent pulls my camera bag (Joe and I each traveled with one) and says he needs to look through it. Sure, whatever. Nothing out of the ordinary…
So, he begins digging through it, and pulls out a knife. A Leatherman to be exact.
TSA Agent: “Sir, did you realize this was in here?”
Me: “Oh, crap. I wasn’t even thinking about it…”
The searching of the bag continues… He pulls another knife. Swiss Army. Suspicious look…
TSA Agent: “Sir, is there anything else in here I should know about?”
Me: “Um… I think there might be one more.”
Yep. Another Leatherman.
Me: “Just a second, let me get my boss. He’s coming through the other line.” I turn around. “Joe…”
TSA Agent: “Sir, is this your bag?”
TSA Agent presents knives.
Joe: “BRAD!! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!? YOU CAN’T BRING KNIVES ON A PLANE!!!”
Me: (very sheepishly) “But… You said the knives… always travel… with… the cameras…?”