John Camp sent me this. It's a promo shot for the popular show "Downton Abbey," which is set in the 1920s. At least a couple of people got into trouble for this photograph, though—the person whose job it is to make sure the set is clean, and the person who vetted the shot for release as a promo. I don't know what the former are called in television, but on photography sets the person is called the stylist. It's the stylist's job to make sure that everything's in order and everything and everyone looks nice once they're on set.
I had very limited interaction with professional stylists back when I was a photographer—I didn't fly quite that high, and neither did my studio-mates. (Stylists are expensive.) I did get into trouble a couple of times, though, for stuff the stylist would have been responsible for if there had been one.
When I did portraits I kept a mirror handy, and I asked people to bring a comb or a hairbrush with them, and then I'd just have them re-do their hair a couple of times during the shoot—my experience was that sometimes people just didn't like the way their hair looked, and it was better to have some variety in the proofs. Only once did I have someone spurn this advice—a young woman declared that she liked her hair to be dishevelled, and it was fine the way it was. I tried to rearrange a flyaway strand on her head but she shooed me away. I was nothing if not go-along-to-get-along, so I let her have it her way.
Of course—naturally—in that instance, that flyaway strand of hair did indeed bother her about the final proofs—and of course it was in every single shot (that was before the days of Photoshop, back when retouching was specialized, difficult, and expensive). I think she did buy a portrait, but she wasn't happy at all about her hair.
Stylists needed everywhere.
So I wonder, in the Downton Abbey promo shot, did the person who left the plastic water bottle on the mantel also get in trouble? Probably not.
UPDATE: The cast and crew of Downton Abbey had the perfect riposte for criticisms. (Thanks to Darr and others for this.) Very graceful save!
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Featured Comments from:
K4kafka: "In my experience working on movie and TV sets, no matter how many hours of 'down time' actors spend waiting in their dressing rooms, you can usually bet that they will bring some morsel of food or drinks to the set. And yes, on a big ad shot, someone with the responsibility to watch over such things (not always the photographer) should be reprimanded."
Gordon Lewis: "From the overall look of this photo and from previous experience on movie sets, my guess is that this was a "quick and dirty" shot on a set that had already been lit for video. The stylist or continuity/script supervisor might not even have known about it. More likely than not, it's the photographer who screwed up. If you were alert enough to notice flyaway strands of hair, you'd notice a stray water bottle, don't you think? Even then, it would have been easy enough for someone to digitally subtract the water bottle after the fact if they really wanted to."
Mike replies: ...Or if anyone had noticed it.
Bernd Reinhardt (partial comment): "The set photographer probably jumped in with the publicist for about one minute and took the picture between setups. Most of the time, the set photographer is expected to be so unobtrusive that he or she wouldn't give any direction to anybody on set."
Tom Kwas: "Have to laugh, saw this a few days ago and it tickled me, less of a problem in the days of easy Photoshop than it would've been back in the day of real film work and retouchers working with dye! I was one of those guys that got to work with high-end stylists over my career, and have to say, many of them would have never made this mistake, but also, the onus would have been on me, as the photographer. One reason I used to stand back and look over a complicated set before I started shooting...back in the olden days, of course."
Larry Shapiro: "In the 1980s I had the good fortune to take a color Polaroid workshop with Marie Cosindas. She worked with an 8x10 view camera and told the story about how she spent a morning setting up one of her classic still life pieces at a Boston museum. Any painting that needed to be moved had to be moved by union workers who of course at noon promptly took their required lunch break. After lunch Marie made the single 8x10 Polaroid image and started the process of taking down the setup when she realized that one of the workman had left a beer bottle in the scene. By then the light had changed and she had to re-shoot the next day. She was always asking us to check for the beer bottles in our compositions. It became a running joke through the workshop and many images were made intentionally with beer bottles in them."