It had hit me on the couch. I replayed every moment we had together. Every conversation, disagreement, every moment of uncomfortable silence, every awkward dinner and every single insult he lobbied at his own crew of influencers who at this point had already fled since they were fed up with his lies and bullshit. And then it finally dawned on me, months after we first started working together, that this guy didn’t have my best interests at hand. He didn’t have my back. He was full of shit and I had known it for too long. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. The warnings were there, front and center, and yet I believed in what he wanted to do and what he wanted to accomplish for himself that I rode the wave with him. But enough was enough. We had arrived back from New York from our trip to the Lone Star State and all seemed well. We were flown in by a client of ours who wanted to get his social media up and running at a breakneck speed. My supposed partner told me we were going down to capture content and follow our client around while he did his daily routine. He was a baker and was already experiencing his fair share of success before we had even gotten there. But when it came to his online presence things were apparently not to his liking. Though I could not for the life of me understand what we were doing there for as long as we had scheduled our trip for, I also knew that who I had flown down with wasn’t exactly efficient with his work ethic. This was a man who instead of going to one of our clients in New York and grabbing content in one session for the next 3 months, instead felt that a better way to show the client how hardworking he was, was to show up at their restaurant more than once a month and take pictures of more items. Sometimes of the same ones he took pictures of just weeks before. So the fact that we were staying for close to a week was not just a waste of time but not overly surprising considering what I already knew about the way he operated.
I think this guy’s bullshitting the other guy, I’d muse to myself. Day in and day out felt absolutely, painstakingly wasteful. We’d spend entire days at our client’s bakery in which he’d take so many shots of bread and people making bread with a majority of those pictures being utterly useless, that I couldn’t wrap my head around what exactly he was trying to do. The images started to become redundant. I knew that he was still learning how to shoot with his camera but it made me start thinking that he really didn’t have an “eye” for it. The more pictures you take the more it allows you to sift through them in the editing process and it may even up your chances of finding a ton of great shots to choose from. But that could also be the problem with taking too many shots. You might just find yourself with too many options and that could overwhelm you. But the main component to this entire situation was that this guy wasn’t just taking too many shots, he was taking too many shitty shots and it was all the more evident every single hour we spent at the bakery. When he’d finally sit down to edit his pictures he’d linger on just a couple and not get done as many as he needed to get done considering all the time we were indoors inhaling the sweet smell of delicious bread. When I’d take a peek at his post-production productivity I couldn’t believe how little was done. When I’d suggest to him during one his many trigger happy moments with his camera that he should stop or maybe take pictures from a different angle he’d literally pay me no mind. His ego wouldn’t allow me, a lowly influencer in his eyes, to teach him a few pretty obvious lessons about photography.
A few days after our arrival we met up for drinks in Queens. He had invited me to “talk” about a few things and I begrudgingly obliged. He wasn’t exactly the best when it came to timing anything out in a sorted manner so him calling me at 4pm on a Friday evening without any word from him during the entire day to go over some things annoyed me. Why didn’t we plan this out earlier and perhaps allow me to modify my own plans for that evening? Either way, I headed down and when I walked in he clearly had, at the very least, a drink. I sat down and saw his glass had a sip left. Our conversation began like most did with him: dramatically, as if he were reading a line from one of his favorite movies. Tell me, Em, what is it that you want to do? He had a habit of speaking down to people as if everyone around him was just swimming in a sea of confusion about what they wanted to do with their lives. This condescending jerk was asking me what I wanted to do as if I didn’t already have some form of success. My social media presence allowed me to thrive in so many different ways and allowed me to make a business out of myself. To have him speak to me like I hadn’t accomplished anything was yet another insult. As offended as I felt I answered him with care and said all I wanted to do was help him see his vision. He, in turn, told me about one of our clients who wasn't happy with the service we were providing him.
At the very beginning of the summer we were working with a vendor who had secured himself a spot at Forest Hills Stadium for their summer series of concerts. When I was asked to go to the opening night to meet up with our client and grab some content for his social media I happily agreed. How fun would it be to hang out around some delicious food and maybe even catch a concert? When I arrived I grabbed my content in about half an hour. What was the point of lingering around a food stand with workers buzzing around for hours on end like the person I worked with clearly would’ve done and has done in the past? Again, efficiency & timing weren’t his things but they were mine. I said my goodbyes and drifted away wondering what to do with myself. I wasn’t exactly a fan of the artist performing that night but I hadn’t been to Forest Hills Stadium since I was a little kid and was kind of just loving the vibe of seeing so many people gathering around to see a show in Queens. Luckily for me a friend of mine had won tickets for that exact same concert so seeing him saunter through security was a happy sight to behold. We got some beers, chatted for a bit and decided we didn’t want to be there any more. We left before the concert started. In between all of this I had already posted up on Instagram some of the content that I had accrued for the client with a few more uploads to go. There was no reason for me to be there any more so we got out of there.
When I was told that same client wasn’t satisfied with the service we were providing him I took it very personally and that was even before I was told specifics. He said you left right away and then went to see the concert. I quickly corrected him and told him that was false and told him how my friend, who we both knew, had been there that same night and we both left together. A detail he was not expecting to hear at all. I metaphorically scratched my head wondering who exactly imagined seeing me enjoying the concert. I explained to him, like I had on many other different occasions, that the content I had collected was edited and posted up on Instagram in such a way that it played for a majority of the night so that when you logged on to their Instagram account their IG Stories would continue through the evening while explaining to him that I didn’t have to be there all night just to get footage of them being there all night. Thinking back to explaining the reality of the situation to him I should’ve known he wasn’t about to give me the benefit of the doubt. I apologized to him he said. Apologized for what? I asked. Nothing wrong was done. And in that moment I should’ve known that he wasn’t supporting me. He wasn’t taking my side of the story into consideration. He had already apologized to the client without asking me what had happened. This had been months ago. This had been before we even had left to our trip which was absolutely strange to me. Why hadn’t he said anything? Why not confront me like a man, a supposed friend and a supposed partner?
But all of it - the realization of the type of person I was really working for - did not hit me until I was sinking into that couch, wondering what the fuck I had been doing wasting my time trying to help someone build up their own business who didn’t even give a real shit about me but was only looking to kiss his client’s ass to the point of offering a quick apology and throwing me under the bus. It was a hard lesson. One that I kept being taught at different intervals but kept ignoring in hopes that the stench of his insincerity and bullshit would wash away. I was dumbstruck at the notion of him not talking to me before we took a plane to another state. But in the end he did it because he wanted some power over me. He wanted to hold it over my head that he took me along with him on a trip. He wanted to make a case for the things he supposedly did for me while completely ignoring everything wrong he did towards me. It’s people like him that make me yearn for authenticity in the field I’m in. No matter how many Instagram filters you might use people will always see right through your bullshit.