Haresh Shah

The Fine Art Of Getting Away With Murder

murder

By the time I heard this story of excess and padding of expense account by one of Life magazine’s star photographers, it had already acquired legendary proportions. There is nothing Life wouldn’t do to cover the world events and be the first and the fastest to bring it back to their nine million readers in words and living colors. Spreads and spreads of images – known among us at Time as fast edits. We were practically an assembly line of  experts from the reporters to the photographers to the writers to the editors and the art directors and at the tail end – us the production people. We would stand by days and nights, weekdays or weekends – and jump in so the magazine would be on its way to its loyal readers on time, week after week.

So it was no wonder that people at the front end of the making of Life were the most pampered, nurtured and spoiled rotten. The darlings among them were the photographers. The story I am told of is that of one of Life’s photographers most notorious for padding his expenses and constantly getting away with it to everyone else’s envy and chagrin. Padding itself was not too difficult, considering that we were not required to submit any receipts for the expenses under $25.00. If you happen to be on the road for several days, how much you can get away with writing off depended entirely on your own creative audacity.  No one ever questioned things you put down on your expense sheet – if for nothing else, not to sound cheap or earning a reputation of being a grouch.

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