Many years ago, with plan to hone my skills as a photographer, I enlisted in a one-day portrait lighting master-class by the well known portrait artist Monte Zucker. A fellow photographer also enlisted for the course with me.
Part of the course syllabus was the discussion of 30 to 40 sixteen by twenty inch mounted prints which demonstrated his most successful shoots. Monte told us that we could and should take photos of his samples for later reference.
My friend said not to bring my camera as he would bring his Hasselblad with a big “potato masher” strobe and he’d make duplicate prints for me. He further advised that he would being an extra battery clip, consisting of 6 or 8 batteries, to make sure he had enough back-up power.
By mid afternoon, after the lunch break, I noticed my friend, who was sitting next to me, start to seem fidgety and uncomfortable. I figured he was suffering a bit of indigestion from our recent lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant.
My friend seemed to be experiencing more discomfort by the minute. He eventually said to me, “I gotta get out of here,” and abruptly got up and headed for the door. Needless to say I was concerned and watched him as he ran out of the room. I know I have a good imagination, but I thought I detected a faint trail of smoke coming from behind him. Was the Mexican meal that spicy?
I thought he was really sick, so I followed him out to perhaps call a doctor or an ambulance. I found him in the men’s room, not vomiting or unconscious but splashing his pants with water from the sink. What the hell?
It seems he was carrying his extra battery pack in his pants pocket and, after lunch, inadvertently put his keys into the same pocket.
Well, the keys shorted across the contacts of the battery pack, AND HIS PANTS CAUGHT ON FIRE! Luckily he wasn’t too terribly burned, but his pants were ruined.
Many years later I ran into Monte Zucker at a photo convention. I told him his class not only helped me improve my photo skills but also my presentation skills, which, I’m sure were instrumental in my being hired by Nikon. I also told him of my friends near escape from total immolation. We both had a good chuckle.