Seeing as I’m promoting myself as a production industry professional, it may be counter intuitive telling an anecdote regarding my momentary lapse of professional judgement on the set of Conan O’Brien! I’ll tell the story anyway because ultimately we all start somewhere in our careers and we all learn through our mistakes.
Years ago, I had the privilege of working on the set of Conan O’Brien’s Comicon special in San Diego. My role on this production was to map out appropriate camera locations and ensure setup of hardware and fiber runs for the live recording of the episode; which was hilarious as always!
Team COCO, Conan’s team, are a tight knit crew of professionals spanning from producers all the way down to grips and even……on set photographers. As you may imagine, it was a thrill working for such an iconic personality on such an acclaimed show. My excitement got the best of me and during some downtime during rehearsals, I pulled out the old Canon 5DMKii and decided to snap a few pictures of the goings on.
The set was elaborate and I had full access to the stage immediately next to Conan and his trusty sidekick Andy. During breaks Conan would take centre stage to bust out a couple of riffs on his Stratocaster and joke around with his crew. Seeing this side of Conan’s personality and seeing the efficiency and working relationship Conan had with his team was really cool to me so I went to town capturing still after still of these moments until I was kneeling next to Conan and Andy seated at the desk when a stage supervisor tapped me on the shoulder and signalled for me to cut it out…….
Luckily, Conan O’Brien and Team COCO were pretty cool about the situation but as you can imagine my actions were a big faux pas! Taking the liberty to photograph celebrities and even sets without permission was bad enough, but Team COCO already had a set photographer on their team and even though I never spoke with her I feel like she probably wouldn’t have approved. Not only that but it was likely disruptive to the rehearsal. Getting permanently booted off the set would have been a standard response, but I was lucky to get a pass and returned to my ACTUAL duties.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but upon reviewing my images a few days later there were many blank stares and even glares directed at my lens by both Conan and Andy; I suppose the photographer in me was too busy composing my shots on a 24mm lens to really pay attention to the daggers being directed at me! Check out the image above for yourself: pure loathing! Sorry Conan and team:)