Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Rules: How to shoot a datacenter

[Ed. note: I wrote this years ago while after encountering a photog at a day job in a datacenter. I recently came across it again and thought it would be fitting here. Enjoy!]

HayleyToday I was tasked with the job of being the grand overseer of the pretty people and the magic picture box trolls who were rummaging around in one of our datacenters. (read: corporate used one of our datacenters for a photoshoot. They had a professional photographer and a bunch of "pretty people" who were trying to act like sysadmins, scampering hither and thither in our room).

If you're a photographer taking marketing shots of a technical area, I'm going to give you a short guide on do's and don'ts that you and your models should follow.


  1. Do show up on time and listen to the rules the nice sysadmin gives you.

  2. Don't be put off when the nice sysadmin tells you that you can't shoot in the room he has to work in while he's overseeing you.

  3. Do ask questions about what you can and can't do.

  4. Don't just start touching the pretty lights.

  5. Do ask for assistance touching the equipment.

  6. Don't look for a wall of monitors in the datacenter. The datacenter is for computers that are remotely managed. We don't like the datacenter. It's cold, loud, and obnoxious. We therefor spend as little time as possible in there to save our hearing and keep our butts from freezing off.

  7. Do pick models that look like they're sysadminish geek types. I've been a sysadmin for almost a decade. The number of pretty people you brought in to act as sysadmins equals the number of pretty sysadmins in the continental US. It just doesn't happen.

  8. Don't ooh and aaah at the pretty lights and have your models make fake poses pointing at them. It looks silly.

  9. Don't have your models squat on the floor, looking down the length of a cold isle. It looks stupid.

  10. Contrary to popular opinion, sandals are not usually worn in a datacenter. We don't like how our feet hurt when we accidently drop computers on them.

  11. No matter how much you think she is, the gorgeous blonde with the lime green, mid-thigh flowing skirt is not a sysadmin. No. Not ever.

  12. In raised floor data centers, air moves from the floor up to the ceiling. It generally moves pretty fast. We move alot of air. Things have to keep cool. Why does this matter? Unless you want a Marilyn Monroe moment, your models should not be wearing lime green, mid-thigh skirts. No matter how much the overseer wishes she would just walk back and forth over the perf tiles.

  13. Don't pester the sysadmin about what he thinks should be shot. He's a sysadmin. He's not a photographer. If he was a photographer, he'd be doing your job, not his, and likely be getting paid just as well, if not better, than you.

  14. Do complete your research before the shoot. This will help you compose your shots appropriately.

  15. Don't ask the sysadmin how he would best show "virtualization" in a datacenter. How would he do it? He'd do it like IBM. One big fucking empty datacenter. One rack. Right in the center. Nothing else around. No, it's not sexy. Get over it.

  16. Sysadmins don't generally walk around in high dollar clothing from the Gap, Ambercrombie and Fitch, or Banana Republic. That shit's expensive. We work in dirty environments. The last thing we want to do is waste our precious money on getting expensive clothing dirty because we're doing our jobs.

  17. No, we will not stop doing the regular work in the datacenter so you have a "cleaner" shot. It's a working production environment. Completing our jobs is worth more to the company than your pictures.

  18. Do thank the sysadmin for all his help.

  19. Don't call the sysadmin "dude" or "buddy" or "pal". He has a name. He told it to you when he introduced himself to you.

  20. Don't get pissy when the sysadmin can't remember your name. His only concern is that you're not fucking up his environment while you're getting your shots.

  21. When the sysadmin tells you to stop doing what you're doing, you will stop. You will cease and desist. You will move into a place not immediately connected with what you were doing. If you don't, he will get pissed and likely remove you forcibly from the room. Why? Because you just fucked something up and he's realized it.

  22. When the sysadmin tells you to leave, you will. Have a problem with that? Please go talk to your contact, who will talk to his boss, who will then talk to the sysadmin, at which point the sysadmin will give justifiable reasons for the decision. Boss will side with the sysadmin. Get over it.

  23. When the time comes for your photoshoot to end, you will pack up and leave. You will not go over your time. The sysadmin has been stuck in this room with you for several hours. He's tired, cold, hungry, and probably has to take a leak because he's been unable to leave the room unattended while you're in there. Also, it's probably quitting time and he wants to go home.

  24. Do take the sysadmin's rules as law. He has been given final say about your existence in his world. You're there as a guest. Don't fuck it up.

  25. When you fuck something up you will have your models leave the room and a representive from the photo shoot will stand out of the way and be present when things are being fixed. Your rep will be respectful and quiet. The sysadmin's job is to fix this visit from the fuckup fairy and then convey to you what damage has been done and what it has cost the company.

  26. Stay away from the networking gear.

  27. Stay away from the networking gear.

  28. If there's networking gear, stay away from it.

  29. The thing that has all the blinky lights and the pretty tentacled masses of cables coming out of it. Yeah, stay away from it.

  30. No, the sysadmin won't turn his music off. He's using it to help protect his hearing from all the loud noises. Yes, those pink and purple things in his ears are ear plugs. He's using them to cut out the white noise in the room so he can hear his music.

  31. Don't freak out when the sysadmin whips out a knife to work on something. He's a professional. He's not going to bloody his tools with the likes of you. Well, as long as you don't cause a visit from the fuckup fairy.

  32. No matter how sexy you think the other room is, you're not going in there. The last photoshoot that happened there is the cause of rules 26 through 29.

  33. Be nice to the sysadmin. He might take bribes. Offer him food and drinks. He likes free things, especially if they're highly caffienated.



I will say, though, the young lady in the lime green skirt ... damn.

[Ed. note: The model in the photo is Hayley. She is not a sysadmin.]

1 comment:

nicole said...

Ha! Hahahahaha... Ah, memories. Like the time they thought it might be a good idea to have a girl come intern and she wore a little skirt. And the blinky lights? Yep. The best answer to random questions from not sysadmins: "Oh, I just check the blinky lights."