Archive for ‘modeling’

November 29, 2012

Why You Shouldn’t Be A TF* Whore

Photo by James Glendinning of SilverLight Esoterica Photography

When I started modeling, I worked with everyone who contacted me, and shot everything I was comfortable with. I even shot some stuff I wasn’t 100% comfortable with. I figured that any time in front of the camera was good–I would learn more–and that I would have a diverse, up-to-date portfolio. When I shot things I wasn’t 100% comfortable with, I figured I needed to learn how to be comfortable so I could open myself up to other (often paid) markets. I went to TF* group shoot events and shot with anyone who’d work with me. I justified it by telling myself it was good networking, another chance to learn, and a good opportunity to update my portfolio in just a few hours.

After a couple years of that, I realized I’d become one of those models that was in nearly everyone’s portfolio, and I had VERY little to show for it. A lot of what I had was the same, and in quite a few cases, the benefit was staggeringly skewed–the photographer had gotten stuff he could use, but I’d gotten more of what I had, stuff I couldn’t use, or no images at all.

You know how I came to that realization? Someone told me.  I was at a M&G and a photographer said to me, “we’ve got to shoot… you’re in every photographer’s portfolio in the Chicagoland area but mine”. I told him to drop me a line and we’d talk, but I realized right there that I’d over-extended myself and very likely hurt myself in terms of getting paid work.  I’d become a “rite of passage” model for the photographers in my area.  That was a bad thing.

That’s when I started charging. At that point, I had been modeling for about 2 1/2 years.  I knew my angles, understood how my body moved, knew how to work with light, and was booking shoots every weekend I had free, months in advance.

That photographer who wanted me in his book so bad? He never actually contacted me to shoot… it was likely more of a polite, conversational gesture on his part. But boy was it a wake up call for me!

I wasted almost 3 years trading way too much. Now sure, at some point within the first year, after I worked with a couple of photographers who delivered crap, or didn’t deliver at all, I became a little more selective, but mostly, I worked trade. I wasn’t confident enough in myself to offer rates, and I was couldn’t find it in me to tell people their work wouldn’t benefit my portfolio. That lack of confidence was the biggest blow though, and that’s what had me working TF* with whoever asked for it. Big mistake.

That doesn’t mean I should have thought I was hot shit, or that everyone I worked with the first 2+ years of modeling didn’t help me out. But I should have been more honest with myself based on the amount of shoot requests that were coming in, and the amount of work I was booking. I should have started trading up early on, instead of staying at the same level (or dipping below it to avoid hurting feelings). My book would have improved faster, and I could have started charging sooner.

When I started charging, I had a few photographers I hadn’t worked with hire me, which was great.  But the photographers I’d worked TF* with who wanted to work with me again, and couldn’t give me portfolio worthy work? Nope… the vast majority of them wouldn’t hire me, no matter how many times they told me how much they loved working with me, how I was the best model they’d worked with, or any of that other unicorn farty stuff.  I was expected to show up at group shoot events and shoot TF* with whoever, and photographers contacted me expecting to jump at every opportunity they offered, drive for hours to shoot, and do whatever was asked of me because, well, that’s what I’d done for nearly 3 years.

By not charging sooner, and not being selective with who I’d worked with those first couple years, I’d really hurt myself in terms of paying work.  If I’d suddenly had to rely on modeling for income, I’d have been fucked unless I started doing serious glamour, nudes, and fetish work.  And that kind of stuff was what I wasn’t comfortable doing, or didn’t want to do for personal reasons.

Now, I know I didn’t have to rely on modeling to pay my bills. However, it would have been nice to be able to get some of the money back I was spending on shoots–maybe even break even here and there. I spent thousands of dollars over the years on shoes, clothes and accessories for shoots… not to mention hiring hair/makeup (because I managed to learn early on how beneficial that was), and driving miles and miles to and from shoots.

It makes me sick knowing how much money I wasted on shoots.  For the first 2+ years, I spent money on shoots that did absolutely nothing for my book.  And I can’t even tell you how frustrating it is knowing I spent a ton of time away from family and friends, and missed quite a bit of stuff for shoots.  “Sorry, I can’t that weekend, I have something going on” wasn’t something I told photographers… it was what I told my husband, my parents, and my friends.

If I could go back and do it again, I would start out being selective with who I worked with. Granted I know a lot more now, and things have changed quite a bit over the past 6+ years, but I certainly just wouldn’t work with someone just for the experience. I’d make sure that what I was getting out of it was going to be worth my time and the money I was going to spend on hair/makeup and wardrobe. I’d evaluate photographers better, and charge sooner. I wouldn’t worry as much about hurting feelings if I said no or offered rates.  And I wouldn’t put my hobby–modeling–before my friends and family.

New models, think about the value of what you’re getting against what you’re investing, before you agree to a TF* shoot.  Don’t just think about the shoot in terms of your portfolio either.  Consider what you’ll be spending on hair and makeup, wardrobe, and gas to get to and from the shoot, and don’t forget to take all of the time you’ll be busy (traveling and shooting) into account.  Will the photos you get truly be worth what you’ll be spending?  If so, it’s a good investment.  If not, charge that photographer, or pass up the shoot altogether.  There’s absolutely no reason you should be shooting trade just to shoot.  You’ve got to be getting something you value out of the shoot.

The same could be said for new photographers.  I know there are quite a few of you out there who are grateful to have models willing to work with you, but if that model’s look isn’t one you want in your portfolio, she insists on bringing her boyfriend, her BFF, her kid and her mom with her, she expects 100 shots edited 2 days after the shoot, or she wants you to drive 3 hours to shoot for an hour with her… take a pass.  If the pictures you’ll be getting aren’t worth the time and money, the shoot has no value to you.  You can try out new things with other models–add it in when you’re shooting other things that will benefit you both, or you can hire an experienced model for a test shoot, just to try out new things (yes, you can do that!).

Bottom line?  Don’t waste your time and money just to shoot.  Seriously evaluate whether or not a shoot will benefit you, looking at the entire package in terms of value to you, before you just jump at the opportunity.  Don’t be afraid to say, “thank you, but I’m not interested in working TF*”.  Professionals won’t have hurt feelings, and those who do get pissy because you’ve bruised their ego… well… you’ve likely dodged a bullet in terms of other drama down the road.

Think before you trade.

October 2, 2012

Reflections on Retirement: The Driving Force Behind “Enough”

Back in July I made the decision to retire from modeling.  Many people accepted this and simply said, “sorry to see you go”.  Others, however, begged for explanations or (worse) pleaded with me not to retire because we hadn’t gotten a chance to work together.  I will not address the second point other than to say if someone didn’t work with me in the 6 years I modeled… well, tough shit.  There was plenty of time to schedule something. Onto the explanation.

This stuff all factored into it, over time.

There were quite a few times where I was screwed.  Numerous times I didn’t receive images from trade shoots–often images I was counting on to update my portfolio.  A few times agreed-upon terms were changed  during an event, or just before a shoot.  Sometimes, I didn’t get what I was promised for participating in an event, or delivery came so late it was unusable.  Par for the course, and really, I should be thankful that all I dealt with were some people who didn’t make good on their promises.  I have certainly heard my fair share of horror stories from others regarding all sorts of other scary crap.

I dealt rather often with photographers balking at my rates.  Some of them I was able to negotiate with, and for some, it didn’t work and we went our own ways in a professional manner.  And there were others who told me I wasn’t worth paying, that I was a stupid bitchface for charging so much, and that I was dumb for even charging because I was a worthless, know-nothing, short, fat wannabe who would never make it in the “real” modeling world.  This from people who previously were dying to work with me.  Ok then.  Again, all pretty normal.

I spent a lot of money on wardrobe, shoes, and accessories for shoots.  Because I was a hobbyist, I usually had to provide wardrobe.  Initially, I just shot in what I had, but as my tastes changed, my ideas become more complex, and I learned what looked good on camera and what didn’t, it meant spending money on things I couldn’t always wear in “real life”.  It meant I had a closet (and by “closet” I mean a bedroom converted to one) full of thousands of dollars of stuff, much of it cheap stuff that wasn’t meant to last, because I bought it just for shoots, and it didn’t need to last.  After years of denial, I realized I was being stupid with my money and, even when I was paid to shoot, I was modeling at a significant loss.  I stopped buying shit just in case I needed it for a shoot, and stopped buying everything new specifically for shoots.  If I had to buy for a shoot, I thrifted instead of buying new, saving a little money that way.  Those were realizations and choices I should have made early on in my career, but you know what they say about hindsight.

And then there was the drama.  Things like, walking into a photographer’s studio and being told, “oh, your friend Swoozie Goodmodel (not a real name) was here and spent an hour talking shit about you” or being unfriended on Facebook because I said I had an “*amazing* shoot” with someone and a model took it as a dig at a photographer she was friends with (actually happened)… crap like that.  People in the industry seemed to thrive on drama.  Was I guilty of feeding it sometimes?  Sure.  Drama came with the territory, though I eventually realized I could stop caring and move on.

All of that was stuff I dealt with for years.  Years.  And previously, a break here and there had been enough to give me some breathing room and make me realize that I loved modeling and wanted to be in front of the camera again.  Because I did.

So then what really caused me to say, “I’m done”?

In short, it was the realization that not enough people valued my work enough to hire me.  There were quite a few local photographers who constantly hit me up to work with them, but couldn’t add to my book.  But despite the fact that they couldn’t improve my portfolio, I wasn’t “awesome” or “the best” or “super-talented” enough to hire.  All of the pre-shoot planning I did (including coming up with ideas, showing up staggeringly more prepared than many models, and nailing pose after pose, shoot after shoot) wasn’t enough for many photographers, and, it seemed, didn’t justify my rates.

It just became enough.  I was starting to think I needed another hiatus.  Perhaps a longer one.

And then, this happened…

I had a few rather… maddening exchanges with one particular photographer.  This was someone I worked with over 10 times, and someone I initially considered an important professional aquaintence, and who’s work was long an asset to my portfolio.  This was a photographer I recommended over and over, and often went to first when I needed portfolio updates or wanted to shoot for special projects.  Eventually, though, as my portfolio improved, his work became less of an asset to my book.  Then I got tired of doing all the work for our shoots.  I made the decision to ask for rates the next time he approached me for a shoot I didn’t need, and I did.

In an effort to help others not make the same mistakes, here’s what went down.

I often received text messages from this photographer telling me how awesome I was, and how we had to work together soon.  In response to each text, I asked for an email or Facebook message to schedule a shoot–texting has never ever been my preferred method of contact, and is never been the way I schedule shoots.  This photographer, of all of them, should have known that.  And yet, nearly every single time, I didn’t get any emails or messages.  Instead, a few weeks later, I’d get a text telling me, “we’ve GOT to shoot sometime, you’re SOOOO awesome!”

What’s more?  I often got text messages about other crap too, friendly little anecdotes about his day, or things he saw that made him think of me.  At first, I didn’t mind it, but it quickly grew old.  I should have put a stop to it, right when it started, but instead I responded, encouraging it.  At some point, I realized I’d made a mistake.  This was a professional aquaintence with no chance of a friendship developing, and I was done enabling it.  I stopped responding to nonsense editorial crap about gross energy drink flavors and the food at a restaurant we’d both been to.  Gradually, the random texts stopped.  But I should have never let them start in the first place.  Lesson learned, though too late.

There were a few times where I gave this photographer a heads up (via Facebook message) about my availability.  I often asked about budget, and spare one time, I was just asked for my rates, which I sent.  Every time I was told they were too high, I offered to negotiate.  Once I was asked to fully concept out the shoot–that is, not just come up with poses, but concept out hair, makeup, come up with and provide wardrobe, and figure out optimal lighting and background setups, all because the photographer “didn’t have any ideas” right then.  I was asked to do all that for $20/hour (to be clear, that’s $30/hour less than what my standard “show up and pose” rate was).  Marginally insulting, that number, but I just him know that while I was “more than happy to negotiate a little and discount for 4 or 8 hour blocks,” that I couldn’t “go as low as $20/hour, especially if I’m concepting out things as well”.  He understood, but never gave me another number to work with.  One other time he said his budget was “$75-85 or so”, but he gave no details on how long the shoot would be.

After low-balling me and telling me he couldn’t afford my rates, this same photographer later told me that he was traveling to another city to shoot various models (including one that was already in his book a few times over), and that those expenses were going to set him back.  Could we maybe plan to shoot the following month instead?  While it kind of stung a little to be set aside for others, after being told just how “amazing and awesome” I was, and how I was his “favorite to work with”, I fully understood wanting to get out, shoot new locations, and work with models he didn’t get a chance to work with.  It did, however, bug me a little that he felt it was ok to totally low-ball my rates because he “couldn’t afford it” and then go and take a road trip.  But it wasn’t my place to say anything or comment on how he was managing his money.

In between all of this, I offered advice on situations involving model/photographer drama, personal crap, and other BS I didn’t need to be involved with or offer my thoughts on.  But, I thought, we were professional aquaintences, and I often mentored newer models and photographers, so in terms of industry-related crap, it was part of the “job”.  Plus, this was someone who’s work I respected (even if it didn’t improve my book any longer) and someone I recommended to others–someone I wanted to see succeed–so if that meant helping them out in other ways, aside from working trade with them, that was a compromise I was willing to make.  But at times, the drama he invested himself in made me shake my head in wonder.

Anyway, this was someone who apparently really enjoyed working with me.  He constantly called me a part “team awesomeness” (including an MUA/friend I worked with almost exclusively in “our” team), and often told me I was “freaking amazing” and “the best, most awesome model [he’s] ever worked with”.  Every time I brought a concept to the table, he marveled over the creativity and was wowed by the amazing images we got.  And yet, once I made the decision to start charging him, he never seemed to be able to afford my rates.  He was always really hard up for money, and struggling to pay bills–he flat out told me at least once that he was struggling check to check.  He was, seemingly, always too broke to hire me–even on our trade shoots he was too broke, and we had to split the flat (and ridiculously, stupidly cheap, especially for her high-caliber work) fee of $50 my MUA friend gave me for unlimited, varying, in-depth hair and makeup looks.

And I knew for a fact that he often gave this same MUA friend post-dated checks for other gigs he hired her for, and asked her to wait until the next pay period to cash them.  He did this because he didn’t have cash and didn’t have the money in his account just then to cover her fees.  He did this numerous times, and continued to do it even after she asked to be notified of it in advance.  He never notified her ahead of time when he needed it done, and when she was relying on that money to pay her bills, to say this practice was “an inconvenience” would be generous.

I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t good enough to hire.  Why wasn’t I good enough, when all he did was rave about me every time he asked me to shoot?  I sat and I wondered about it.  At some point, I saw he was posting more work.  That’s when I started paying a little closer attention to his Facebook account.  I watched him shoot with other models who I knew charged.  I understood, or I told myself I did.  After all, I was willing to work trade with some photographers, but wanted him to pay me.  I was in his book a lot, and if he wanted to hire someone else, it was his money and he was free to do so.  Besides, maybe he was able to negotiate with those other models for rates that were lower than mine.  I didn’t know, and didn’t want to know, the terms of their agreements.  It was, I decided, entirely possible that he had a photography budget that just didn’t allow for my rates.  But that still didn’t explain the frequent post-dated checks that were a total inconvenience to my MUA friend.

As I continued to follow him on FB I watched him spend money on tattoos.  Big, intricate pieces that required numerous trips back to the shop, and that were so well done it left no doubt that they were not cheap.  Meanwhile, he often posted about not having enough money to buy proper food, and still turned down my rates.  I know, I know… his money, his budgeting, and his poor decisions (if that’s what they were).  But it stung quite a bit to see him spending money on other things when I was constantly told “sorry, I don’t have the money to pay you”.

Then I sent him a “last chance, one-time-only” offer.  It was my only free weekend in July, and I’d made the rather sudden decision to stop modeling at the end of the month.  A workshop I was supposed to host was cancelled and I had an opening that coincided with my MUA’s schedule.  He’d been begging me since January to get the 3 of us together again and shoot something with “team awesomeness”, and this was his chance.  He’d mentioned being available all week that week, so I figured we’d have a good chance of booking.  The MUA and I sat down, looked at our rates, and decided we’d offer him a full package.  She and I would concept out 3 hair/makeup looks, and 5 wardrobe looks, all to be shot in 4 hours, for a total of $550.  If he booked her and I separate, at half-day rates, without all the concepting stuff, it would have run him $500, so this was a good deal.  Based on previous shoots, we knew he could handle getting great shots for his book with so many looks in just 4 hours, so weren’t worried about time in the least.

“Sorry. I’m not available that day now. Thanks for letting me know though,” he replied.  We asked him to let us know if it changed, and after confirming he would, we never heard from him.  It was a deal offered only a few days out, so we both understood not being free.  However his “not available that day” turned out to be posting menial crap on Facebook most of the day.  My MUA friend and I hung out during the time we had set aside to shoot and noticed it (yes, we Facebook while we hang, what of it?).  I commented on something he posted during that time with something like, “wow, yea, you were busy today, huh?”  A little passive-aggressive?  Yea, but I was tired of his crap, and so was she.  It was clear he lied about something.

He texted me and told me he wasn’t sure what his schedule for the day was going to be like, but that he couldn’t really have afforded it anyway.  But previously he’d been “not available”, so which was it?  I told him he should have just been honest, instead of making it seem like he lied, and that we’d have been willing to negotiate on price and on some of the time we had free.  He apologized, followed by a quasi apology a couple days later that highlighted more how mad he was at himself than any remorse he felt towards making me feel undervalued.

Because that’s what it was; I felt undervalued.  As I watched him spend money he may or may-not have had on other models and tattoos, while he gave my friend post-dated checks and told me he couldn’t afford my rates, I realized that he liked working with me because of what I brought to the table, but didn’t think that any of my creativity or abilities were worth paying for.  It didn’t matter to him that I worked my ass off before each shoot to come up with a plan, and then showed up with fucking awesome ideas, and brought a kickass stylist who nailed everything I asked her to do and helped art-direct the shoot on set.  It didn’t matter that I brought my own killer wardrobe along with great lighting ideas.  He didn’t give a shit that, during every shoot, I pushed him creatively while I knocked out pose after pose.  He didn’t care that all he ended up having to do was push the shutter release button and tell me I rock.  (And don’t tell me he did hours of post work, because he often had a least 2 or 3 images posted by the time I got home after our shoots.  It was a 30 minute drive, tops.)

It was clear: This photographer didn’t value me or my work enough to pay me, and, frankly, it was pretty fucking insulting.

In August, I decided it was time to do a preliminary cleanout of my Facebook account.  I was going to be using the account for my style blog, and decided it was time to cull the herd of people I didn’t need to continue relationships with on a modeling/photography standpoint.  After much though, I decided to unfriend him, along with a quite a few other photographers and models (yes, some local).  It was clear, in his last “apology” to me, that he was more concerned about his own feelings than making good on our professional relationship.  In fact, he talked more to my MUA friend about me than anything (which she of course told me), and couldn’t be bothered to talk to me at all, even after being urged to numerous times.

When he noticed we eren’t friends any more, he went to my MUA friend and complained, again, instead of sending me a note asking what was up.  She told him he was being silly and that there was no reason for us to be friends on Facebook.  We’d been acquaintances through modeling, and because I wasn’t modeling any more, there was no need for us to be friends.  He was all, “yea, you’re right, thanks” and that was that.

Until a couple weeks later when he sent me a friend request.  No “hey, sorry for the misunderstanding before.  I’d like having you on my friends list as a reference, is that ok?” or any other explanation.  Just a friend request, which I denied.  I got another a couple days later, which was denied again, followed by another the next day.  Finally, I sent him a note telling him to stop, and explaining pretty much everything I’ve just said here (in fact, I copy-pasta’d some of the above direct from my note to him).

But instead of engaging in conversation, apologizing, or otherwise discussing it with me, he blocked me, removed all my images from his Model Mayhem account (and probably other accounts as well, though I didn’t bother looking) and seemingly completely eradicated me from his professional life.  He then ran crying to my MUA friend about it, and tried to get her to talk to me about it.  She, of course, told him to grow a set and talk to me.  He hasn’t, and I sent that message on August 24th.  He has since unblocked me on Facebook though.

Meanwhile, he wrote my friend another post-dated check, because he didn’t have enough money to pay her rates.  Again.  Oh, and she cut him a deal on a single hair/makeup look because of the working relationship they have.  But he, once again, couldn’t be bothered to let her know ahead of time he had to post-date the check!  Thankfully, she works full-time and isn’t relying on that money to pay bills any more.  Oh, and guess what?  He went and got another tattoo, despite having to write post-dated check to pay someone.  Needless to say, I know she’s had enough of his bullshit too, and she’s starting to totally understand exactly how I felt the last time he and I actually spoke.

So that, folks, is ultimately why I stopped modeling.

And the frustration relating to the entire situation is why I couldn’t even think about coming to this blog to explain it.  What prompted me to do it, finally, was three-fold.  First was hearing about that last post-dated check my friend got, without notice, after a gig with this photographer.  The second was hearing that he posted on Facebook about getting a brand new, fully-loaded Camaro, after having to write a post-dated check.  And the third was seeing that an extremely talented, genuinely nice-guy, photographer decided to hang it up because models treated him in such a way that mirrored the way I was treated.

All of the above BS guarantees one thing for the photographer: I’m no longer recommending him to other models.  I can’t.  Not after everything–the lack of respect for me as a model, the unannounced post-dated checks to friends (which I probably would have had deal with at some point too), the lies about things–I just can’t bring myself to recommend him for fear of another model having to deal with any of it.  It just wouldn’t be fair!  That doesn’t mean I’m going to go around shouting his name from rooftops across the state of Illinois, but if someone asks for a reference check, it’s not going to be a good review.

Meanwhile, all of this could have been avoided had this guy talked to me like a professional.  If he had stopped worrying about posting his latest ink to Facebook, and taken a moment to think about what message he was sending someone that was “the best [he] had ever worked with” when he told half-truths, or couldn’t even be bothered to send a message to when he was worried about burning a bridge, then chances are, I wouldn’t be writing this post.  If he’d owned up to the lies and making me feel undervalued, I’d have accepted the apology and moved on.

Sure, I would have still stopped modeling, but may have put it off until around now instead of cold-calling it at the end of July.  I knew 2012 was going to be the year for me to move on.  The above bullshit just hurried it along.  Enough was enough.  I’m now working on my style blog more, should you care to keep up with me there.  I may still write some modeling-related pieces over here now and again, but we’ll see.

The lessons here?  There are many.

  • Don’t take your good working relationships for granted.  When you do, you’re likely to start screwing things up and could burn the bridge, and ultimately, all that does for you is tarnish your reputation.
  • Respect the people you have good working relationships with, and show them you value all they do for you.  It doesn’t mean you have to take them to Charlie Trotter’s for dinner, just respect them enough to have integrity when dealing with them.  And no, telling them they fucking rock all the time doesn’t count.
  • Be honest with those you work with.  Don’t lie or omit details in an effort to save face.  If you can’t be honest with the people you’re working with, you need to re-evaluate the relationship you have with them, as well as your own personal issues.
  • If you are going to apologize, be sincere.  Don’t focus on how your mistakes make you feel bad for yourself.  Show remorse for your actions and apologize for making the other person feel the way you have.
  • Don’t overstep your bounds in professional relationships.  If you want to become friends with someone, that’s fine, but make sure the feeling is mutual before you just start texting them about pointless shit at all hours.
  • Speak up sooner rather than later, and don’t be afraid to say something.  If something someone does or says makes you feel like crap, or you don’t like where something has gone, out with it!  Don’t let it go on until it’s ridiculous, because then it’s just going to be awkward to get out of (if you can at all).
  • Talk directly to people, especially once you’re old enough to vote.  If you can vote, or for goodness’ sake join the military, you should be long past the “have Billy tell Jenny to tell Carmen that Sandra said that Kyle likes Johnny” bull.  Seriously.  If you have an issue with someone, or need to tell someone something, talk to them.  Even if it’s via Facebook message or email.
  • Don’t drown in the drama, and don’t drag others with you.  While it may be hard to avoid, if something happens that involves you, take a deep breath and count to 100 before responding or reacting.  Easier said than done, and something I wish I did myself numerous times.  And keep your drama to yourself and don’t involve others, especially when they aren’t related to it.

So that’s all of it.

That’s what happened, and what I took away from it.  Largely, what I walked away from this with is that the lessons I learned from it all don’t necessarily apply to just the modeling/photography worlds.  Whether or not you walk away with the same… that’s up to you.

All of this guarantees one thing for the photographer: I’m no longer recommending him to other models.  can’t.  Not after everything–the lack of respect for me as a model, the unannounced post-dated checks, the lies–I just can’t bring myself to do it for fear of another model falling into it and having to deal with any of it.  It just wouldn’t be fair.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to go around shouting his name from rooftops across the state of Illinois, but if someone asks for a reference check, it’s not going to be a good review.

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July 17, 2012

When Good Events Go Bad

As a model, I’ve been at the hands of poor event planning numerous times, from group shoots to fashion shows to other events.  Numerous times “the event of the year” ends up being an empty room full of people I had to beg to attend, or something just as disappointing.  In fact, other people’s poor planning and the chaos and stress that results from it is a large part of the reason I’ve decided to step away from being in front of the camera for good (more on that in another post, I promise).

Roger Talley, a good friend of mine, will be investigating what seems to be the result of poor planning (at the very least) and the downfall of Las Vegas Fashion Week.  It seems the event coordinator Jenn Nichols Strom dropped the ball somehow, somewhere, and the event went from being “a 6-7 day International Fashion showcase event featuring the collections of local, national and International Designers and students” at a huge venue, to ending up a show of about 10 designers with no more than 40 people in attendance, not even filling up the ballroom it was in.

For the beginning of the story, click here, and keep an eye out for the rest of it, as Roger investigates what went wrong and why.

May 23, 2012

Some Great Info On Setting Rates

Fellow model Dekilah (an art nude model) wrote an excellent blog about rates, where she talks about working trade, setting rates, when to start charging, and much more.  It’s geared towards freelance models who aren’t agency represented, and is full of great information.  Here’s an excerpt:

Yes, and usage of the images is a big consideration. Will they be submitted to websites? Sold as prints? Sold to private sellers? The budget of the shoot will often reflect the usage. For example, if the photographer is going to sell prints or to a private buyer or website, they are likely to have a larger budget than if they are simply hiring you for artistic or portfolio purposes. This is not always true, of course, but often. Usage information will often be given in the release, but I recommend asking as you book the shoot and it never hurts to ask for specifics if they are not already given.

And another, which I agree 100% with:

Most people agree that the answer to this is “yes, under the right circumstances.” The whole idea behind doing TF is usually to build your portfolio. And if/when you begin to charge rates, you will still want to update your portfolio, but generally when you are paid, you no longer receive images. There are exceptions to this, but in the general “rules” your payment is what you get out of the shoot. So when you want to update your portfolio you will either need to do TF or pay a photographer.

Click here to read the full post from Dekilah.

If you’re curious about my rates, go here, where I discuss them.

May 7, 2012

Model Networking Sites, Safety, & More

Roger Talley, the guy who wrote and The Professional’s Guide to Modeling has written some articles concerning model networking sites (like OMP, Model Mayhem, Model Insider, etc.) that are very worth the read.  Roger owned a modeling agency once upon a time, and really understands how the modeling world works–both agency-wise and Internet-wise–and these articles touch on Internet-related stuff that isn’t addressed at  And while, at first glance, these articles may seem like fear-mongering, knowing Roger personally, I can tell you that’s not the purpose of these articles.  Roger is big in educating models and giving them the tools to keep themselves safe, and fear-mongering ends up having the opposite effect.  These four articles were, no doubt, written to make models aware of certain things that model networking sites aren’t doing in the interest of their safety, and to explain to them why continuing to do their own due diligence prior to shoots is still very important.

Model Networking Sites and Common Sense
In the first article of the series, Roger leads with saying that, largely, “transactions” on model networking sites like Model Mayhem, OMP, and Model Insider (along with the vast majority of others) go off without a hitch.  However, he does take the time to highlight some of the “extreme cases on all networking sites that go horribly wrong”, listing a few cases where members have gotten others involved in prostitution, or have resorted to drugging and raping, or (worse), murder.  Very rare events, but it happens, and Roger talks about how sometimes, these few-and-far-between extremely bad cases can be blown out of proportion and result in near-paranoid handling of things.  And, of course, he touches on the flip side of that… that some people think everyone who signs up for those kind of sites is legit and safe.

Read Model Networking Sites and Common Sense here.

Model Networking Sites and Warnings to Models
The second in the series, this article talks about what the modeling sites are doing to warn members that other members may in fact be criminals, scammers, registered sex offenders, or whatever.  In short, the answer is “not much, if anything at all”, but it’s much, much more complicated than that.  Roger talks about the rules on some sites regarding telling members of others’ one has dealt with, as well as what some sites encourage others to do when registering.  It’s a good read, and an important one, that begins to shed light on what you’re either getting yourself into, or have gotten yourself into, once you’ve signed up for model networking sites.

Read Model Netowrking Sites and Warnings to Models here.

The Will to Believe and Model Networking Sites
In this article, Roger talks about “the will to believe” and how it relates to model networking sites.  What I am talking about (and thus what Roger is talking about) is that quite often, models think “oh, well this must be what it’s supposed to be like” and carry on with things that they might not be comfortable with, or might not feel right about.  And in some cases, this can get them in trouble ranging from getting scammed to getting hurt, sometimes even multiple times because “this is part of the job”.  Roger touches on how easy it is to lay blame on the victims of these scenarios, but that’s not always fair.  In the vast majority of these cases, the model networking sites and how they handle members (especially after being informed that a member is in fact a danger to others on the site) comes into play.

For more on this, read The Will to Believe and Model Networking Sites.

Prudent Use of Model Networking Sites
In the final article of the series, Roger outlines some of the problems that have arisen because model networking sites don’t educate their members, encourage members to sign up with fake names, and don’t police their members at all.  Roger talks about how, keeping things in perspective, it is possible to have positive experiences on model networking sites.  He talks about how members can often use the forums on the networking sites to research and discuss scammers and bad experiences (but user-beware, as the forums are also often full of misinformation and trolls).  Roger also points out resources like and the article database at Model Insider, often recommended by forum regulars, who are often fonts of information (and worth conversing with) themselves.

Read Prudent Use of Model Networking Sites here.

April 16, 2012

Upcoming Posing Clinic With Mark Niemi

On May 19 from 1P to 5P I will be hosting “Pose Like A Pro” at 500 West Cermak in Chicago, IL.  Mark Niemi has invited me to teach this class to models in his studio and we’ve worked out a super special low rate of just $60 per person attending.  This is a great workshop for new models, but photographers can attend as well to get tips and tricks relating to how to verbally instruct models on posing.

For more details visit

February 10, 2012

Gallery Opening:

There’s a new new gallery opening tonight in Oakland, California.  A friend of mine out there (who’s also one of the featured artists) told me about it, and if you’re in the area, it’s most definitely worth heading out there!  I wish I were in Cali right now so I could go… it sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun!

It’s called the Gray Loft Gallery, and it’s at 2889 Ford Street #32 in the Jingletown section of Oakland, CA.  The gallery opens its doors tonight at 6P, with The Love Show displaying during a special opening reception until close (9P).  The Love Show features 50 artists and runs from February 10 to the 25, and, “…is not a Hallmark Valentine show, but rather a visual dialogue about love in its many incarnations and interpretations.”  No only will you see more traditional art forms, such as photos, paintings, monoprints and sculptures, but the gallery will also have handmade purses, hats, jewelry, hand-blown glass, cards and textiles on display.  The theme of love doesn’t mean this is a Hallmark Valentine show.  Art featured in The Love Show reflects love, passion, lust, hope, romance, broken hearts, true love, and self love.  Sounds like a great show!

Today the Grey Loft Gallery folks are working hard to put the finishing touches on things… you know, sweeping floors, making sure the art is not upside down… all those silly things 😉

So if you’re in Oakland, go, and have fun for me.  I’ll be here in Chicago.  With the snow.

If you can’t make it to the opening tonight,  you should head over there on Saturday the 11th, because there’s going to be a wine tasting!  How awesome is that?  Art and wine?  Win!

For more info on the Gray Loft Gallery sign up for updates on their website:

December 30, 2011

Real Runway Shows Don’t Require You To Sell Tickets

Model Paige Morgan wrote a nifty Facebook note about why you shouldn’t pay to be in a runway show.  Her thoughts on it, in my opinion, are spot on.  Here’s a excerpt:

Anything that requires you to sell tickets to walk runway is not a good look for a serious portfolio. Here’s why:

1. They have no standards, by and large, because they’re looking for anyone whom will make them money and sell the tickets, not the most qualified models for the task at hand.

2. Any event that’s using anyone whom agrees to model/sell tickets most likely not going to attract the sort of people whom make good connections or networking possibilities for future work, as most of the people are not qualified/experienced potential models, so the working professional photographers/MUA/Stylists are not going to attend. (Aside from whomever the event promoters hired to be there for the purpose of the show running at all)

 3. If the company/ event will give you such great “exposure” or contacts, why would they need models to hawk seats to cover their production costs? Why do you have to pay for the supposed benefits via ticket sales? The short answer is they are probably making empty promises about what they are able to do for you. They can’t even make their own events break even without using models as unpaid sales/promotional labor, let alone promote you effectively.

4. Let’s say you didn’t notice points 1, 2 and 3. You sell the tickets, walk the show, and list it as a credit on your resume, along with your new flyer/press kit/whatever the fuck.

It won’t matter to your next potential client, as you didn’t get there by being the best possible choice for the job. You bought and paid for your catwalk turn, which anyone with a spare 20 friends and some available cash could’ve done.  Take the $200 you would’ve forced your loved ones to spend and/or paid out of pocket and put it toward things that will actually benefit you and your career.

And here’s a link to the full note.

I highly suggest reading what Paige has to say about companies like Raw:Artists, FUZE IT WORLDWIDE, and Icon, who require models to, essentially, pay to walk in their shows.  Especially read her note if you’ve been contacted by one of these companies (or one asking similarly of you) and accepted into one of their shows.

December 15, 2011

Some thoughts on rejection & criticism.

Maybe my art background and my making my living as a graphic designer has helped me with this, but since I’ve been modeling, I’ve never taken rejection and criticism personally. In fact, you can’t.

Sure, modeling can be raw and real–there are some gigs that are extremely emotionally and physically draining.  And don’t get me wrong, near constant rejection and criticism can be emotionally draining as well.  But if you’re taking it all personally, you’re doing it wrong.

Rejection is the first thing you need to learn how to handle as a model, because it’s what you’ll be faced with the most.

Being a model is all about your look. Your measurements and height, your eye color, hair color and length, your body type, the size of your tits, your skintone, your bone structure… even your flexibility–all of that is extremely important when it comes to modeling. Most of it you can’t change either (yay, genetics) so taking rejection personally is silly. Sure, you can cut and dye your hair or get wigs, get breast implants, buy some colored contacts, tan… you get the idea.  You can spend all the money in the world to change your looks, but even if you do all that, you’ll find that there are still photographers and clients out there that don’t like your look and won’t book you. You can’t please everyone, and if you take every rejection or criticism personally, you’re going to wind up being really depressed and bitter, and you’ll burn out super fast.  Plus, no one will want to work with you because you’ll be a total drama queen about every little thing people say to you too, which no one likes!

Your best bet (and photographers can learn from this too) is to let the rejections roll off your back and keep working to find someone who likes your look. They’re out there! It might be a challenging road, but if you’re up for it, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Just have fun while looking and it won’t be as hard of a search.

Use the criticism you get along the way to grow.  Learn from what people tell you, but don’t let it get to you.  Modeling and photography is a creative industry, and critics come with it.  It’s just how it is, and it will always be that way.  I’ve written about criticism before, but it was a slightly different take on it… though if you haven’t read that entry, it might help make this next part make more sense.

Someone being constructive and offering a critique (especially after you ask for one) is typically being helpful and offering advice, which should be considered.  If someone tells you something you don’t like hearing, take a deep breath and ask yourself “that’s their opinion and I don’t have to agree, but is there something I can take away from what they said to make myself better?”. Don’t take every critic’s words as an attack, because usually, that’s not what they’re doing.  Think about what’s being said and choose to take the advice and learn from it, or not.  It’s up to you.

Those who offer unsolicited critiques of your work should most definitely not be taken personally.  But those critiques might also be worth listening to.  Consider the source when the critique is unsolicited and realize that sometimes an unsolicited critique should be taken with a grain of salt.  Say “thanks for the advice” and (again) choose whether or not you want to take it to heart.

Those who shit all over your work and are stupid and negative and tell you everything they think you did wrong should be ignored, especially if it’s unsolicited.  Haters gonna hate, no matter what you do.  Learn to laugh at the bitter people who have nothing better to do with their time than hate on your work.  It’ll make your life a lot easier.

December 5, 2011

A Good Read: Inspiration vs. Imitation

A friend sent me this article and I thought it’d be a good one to share with my readers here, though it was written in reference to the design community.  Modeling and photography certainly deals with both inspiration and imitation, especially when we’re in the beginning stages of things.  The author of this article, Jessica, does a very good job explaining things to her audience (which she notes as aspiring artists and designers), I think.  So check it out.

Inspiration vs. Imitation


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