Saturday, September 21, 2013

Brides Beware of McNay Museum in San Antonio

Everyone who knows me, knows that I'm a nice guy.  A harmless little fuzzball with a camera.  It takes a little bit of rudeness to provoke me.  That happened yesterday.

I had a bridal portrait session scheduled with Bree.  She chose the McNay museum in Alamo Heights area of San Antonio.  I'd never shot there, so I was pretty jazzed about it.  I'd driven past it, and I knew the grounds were gorgeous, and well manicured gardens with lots of huge trees, sculptures, and visually awesomeness. 

As luck would have it... it was raining.  It was raining cats and dogs.  (I stepped in a poodle.)  I called Bree and she said no problem, she'd made arrangements with the museum that we were going to shoot inside.  Cool.

I arrived about 15 or so minutes early.  I parked and began getting my gear out of the van (and getting soaked)  I see a security guard pull up in a little golf cart, and I thought "Well, how nice, he's going to give me a ride to the front door!".  The thought of schlepping my gear through the rain and puddles was not adding to my excitement.

"You a photographer?" he asked.   

"Yep.  I'm meeting a bridal client in a few minutes"

"You have your photography permit?"

Eh... no.  The client took care of that.

"You'll have to wait in your car until your client arrives if she has the permit."

What??  Wait in the car?  It's raining!  You can't let me go in and get my camera ready, and tested?

"I'll come and notify you when your client is here with the permit.  Until then, you're not allowed to come in with a camera."

Great... not only is it raining, but I have to deal with Paul Blart, mall cop, who is still upset that he didn't get that sweet job feeling up passengers at the TSA checkpoint.  So I call my client, and as it turns out, Bree is already there on the other side of the museum getting dressed.

I drive to the other side.  Still raining.  No parking near the entrance where Bree is at.  Different security guard.  She's nice enough to let me off-load my camera equipment, and then go park my van in BFE, and walk back in the rain.

Once I'm inside, I meet with Bree, her mom, and her sister.  She's dressed and ready to go.  Her dress is beautiful, makeup and hair is perfect.

The female version of Paul Blart security tells us that our time starts now.  She then starts a stop-watch.  Yes, you read that correctly... a stop watch.  I'm guessing that my client made arrangements for a one hour session, and the security professional will be making sure it doesn't exceed 59 minutes, 59 seconds.

I ask the security lady if there are restrictions as where we can go.  She says "Yes.  Just here.  In this room."  We're standing in a foyer... the entrance on the administrative side.  There's walls, two lights, a staircase... and  that's it.

"You mean, we can't go anywhere other than this room?" I ask with a little frustration in my voice.

She replies "You can also go up to the top of the stairs, but that's it."

I can do this.  I can get incredibly good pictures standing in front of a dumpster.  We start the session, and I'm nailing shot after shot.  We still have some good light coming through the windows.  A little fill flash here and there.  A little natural light.  Looking good.

Normally, when I do bridal portraits, I like to take my time.  I normally shoot on a tripod so that the images are sharp as a tack.  I spend time making sure the light is perfect each time.  I'm feeling rushed.

When I think that we have 15 minutes to go, the security guard corrects me and tells me, "No, you only have 5 minutes because she will need 10 minutes to get dressed.

Nothing like a little pressure when you have more poses to do, and only 5 minutes to do them.  My last shot rocked.  I can't wait to post them after the wedding.  I put up my equipment and Bree got out of her dress and we were out the door at the top of the hour.

I know people have orders from the brass.  I know people have a job to do.  However, a little politeness and people skills go a long way to help people understand that you are just doing your job.  I have no idea what the administration is like at the McNay Museum.  They might be the sweetest people.  They might be the most anal idiots ever.  The only thing I do know for sure, is that I would discourage any bride from paying them for a permit to do a photo session at the McNay.  

Let's be careful out there....


  1. Wow... Yeah I'd be pissed as a Client if they treated me that way after buying a permit. Especially if they didn't say the limitations ahead of time.


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