I was chatting to another creative recently and we both agreed that we’re no longer as thrilled by the idea of going on shoots as we used to be, even the supposedly glamorous ones in sunny foreign climes.
Of course, you have to do shoots, and it’s not as if they’re actively bad experiences, but I miss the wife and nipper and (whisper) the vast majority of a shoot is spent sitting beside a monitor trying to stave off the boredom by playing Kill, Shag or Marry and reading Heat, Now and Closer.
But I remember the early shoots, where you’d turn up on location to see battalions of HGVs and hundreds of crew in North Face jackets, and they’re only there because of what you wrote on a piece of paper a few weeks earlier. Good Lord, what a rush! And then the first foreign shoot! Turning left on the plane! Cracking open the minibar without worrying that a Snickers costs $4.50! Basking in the Cape Town sunshine in December! It was a time of warm wonder.
Then the law of diminishing marginal returns kicks in and you find yourself a decade in, looking at it as you do any other day at the office (slight exaggeration; shoots are definitely cooler than 99% of 99% of people’s days at work and much better than a day at the office).
But is there an element of having to take on the less flighty elements of the job as you go higher up the agency? The more senior you get, the more client contact you have, the more responsibility you’re given and the more pressure is sent your way. (Again, not a problem; just less fun than when things were a little looser at the bottom of the pyramid.)
And then this links back to the ageism of the industry. Maybe agencies don’t want oldsters, but maybe it’s also the other way round. Sure, the more senior creatives want the pay cheque, and the job is far better than almost all alternatives, but it’s pretty unlikely that it will be as fun on day 6000 as it is on day 600.
So maybe the key is keeping that youthful wonder alive against the odds. If you can stay curious, wide-eyed and Walk In Stupid (® Wieden and Kennedy) then you might have a longer career, my son. I mean grandad.