Friday, July 13, 2012

Mixed Feelings

Day 53: Monday, May 2, 2011

I met Yusuke at Shinjuku station after lunch because he was going to help me shop for a digital camera since he had just bought one the other day. Before doing that, we decided to get some coffee. He took me up to the Odakyu department store’s rooftop. When the elevator door opened, I saw a park, which blew me away because I never knew that something like this existed directly above the station. While I was drinking some kind of iced berried juice from the Amazon, I tested out his new camera- the one which I was planning on buying- and was quickly disappointed by how the pictures looked. He was also telling me that using a digital camera actually turned out to be more work than shooting film because of all the shit you had to do on the computer, which was another surprise and another let down for me.

When we finished our drinks, we headed out of the department store and saw a homeless man holding newspapers for sale saying Bin Laden was dead. Yusuke and I were shocked, saying we couldn’t believe it, and then I made the stupid joke, “Wasn’t he already dead...?” We continued on our way stunned, but then five minutes later forgot all about it.

At the store, Yusuke showed me the used camera body that I was supposed to get, but then it turned out that I would have to get new lenses as well because the sensor-thing-a-majig was too small making my current lenses from my film camera strange and more zoomed in, and then there were also memory cards and batteries that I would have to get on top of that… In the end, it turned out to be a lot more expensive than I had imagined, which was another shock because besides the convenience aspect, I thought I would be saving money in the long run. I didn’t see the point anymore in forking over that much money buying something that I didn’t even want or like, so I gave up on the idea.

Yusuke had to pick up his pictures from the lab, which was the same place where I bought 100,000 yen ($1,000) worth of film two days back. I showed him the sign in Japanese where it said, “Once it’s sold out, there is no more,” and then he laughed. He said that I had read it wrong… The sign only meant that they would stop selling it in bulk as opposed to stopping the entire production of the film line itself. In a way, I felt tremendously relieved that film in general was not ending yet and that I didn’t have to get a digital camera, but at the same time felt so fucking stupid for buying so much film the other day… I was filled with these mixed feelings for the next fifteen minutes or so (which was longer than my reaction to Bin Laden’s death).

When I got home later that evening, I checked my email and noticed that I got another freelance job offer, but as soon as I saw what magazine it was from, I got really angry because they were one of the shadiest and most unprofessional companies I had ever worked with. They were the kind of magazine that would be really nice and promise you money for doing an assignment for them, but after you sent them what they needed, they would stop all communication with you and never pay or send you the magazines that your work was featured in. Even worse, after a year or so, they would contact you again and be really nice and by that time, either you forgot about what happened before or were not as angry anymore, so you decide to be optimistic and give them another chance, but, of course, they fuck you over again. This happened to me four times over the past four years. Anyways the person who was contacting me now replaced the old photo editor, so I didn’t know if he was more legit than the man before or not, but I decided to let him know my qualms with their company and how if he really wanted to work with me, that he would have to take certain steps to correct past debts. While I was writing it, I knew Ian would have told me not to because Ian knows a lot about business especially business strategy but he was not there (Yuki and him were still in Singapore on vacation) and actually as much as I love Ian, I am coming to learn that even though he is more experienced and older than me, in the end we are different people with different objectives and what works for him doesn’t necessarily work for me. Therefore even though I was desperate for more freelance work and probably burning bridges with this magazine forever, I sent the email.

Ten minutes later, I got a lame reply back from that guy apologizing while also saying that he had heard that many other photographers had made the same complaints in the past as well… But in the end, he said he couldn’t do anything about making sure that I would get paid for past debts or even have them send me my magazines because it was not his job… but actually in my opinion, it was his job because editors supposedly should be the middle man between the freelancer and the magazine during the whole working process- beginning, middle, and especially the end.… In a way, his excuse sounded to me a little like what soldiers in Nazi Germany said to defend themselves when they lost the war and were on trial- that they knew the whole time of all the bad things going on, but decided not to say or do anything because they were scared, so the bad things just kept continuing or getting worse… It was ironic because that magazine claimed to promote and celebrate youth culture but all they really did was exploit and step on young people who were na├»ve and desperate enough to get their shit published. Anyways writing my email to him didn’t make me feel any better. Actually it made me feel worse like I had stooped down to their level, which filled me with even more mixed feelings than if I just had ignored it… In the end, imaginary Ian was right.

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