Archive for ‘hobbyist’

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.

Advertisements
Tags: ,
August 11, 2011

On Integrity & Professionalism

Recently, I was slapped in the face with one person’s unprofessional behavior and dishonesty.  What’s more is that after expressing my disappointment in the situation, the offending party showed little remorse.  However, another person involved has shown what true professionalism & integrity are, which lessens the sting… sorta.  Here’s the story…

It started with a verbal agreement regarding compensation for working an event.  A few weeks before the event I was told (in person) that compensation would be $50 for the day, a selection of images for portfolio use.  I was also told I’d be in the designer’s catalog.  As an added bonus, I’d get a sketch of me in what I was modeling.  Typically, my rates are $50 an hour or $325 for an 8-hour day, which is how I’d have billed it since it’s cheaper.  However, because I’d be getting portfolio images & a tear sheet (plus a cool sketch), I made an exception and accepted the job at a significantly lower rate than normal.

Fast forward to the day of the event.  Call time was 12P & everyone was on time & ready to start getting to work.  In the beginning, things were running nicely, people were having a good time, & it was shaping up to be a great event.

Around 3P we started getting hungry, but there was no food.  Based on previous experiences, I expected there to be food provided at a 7-hour event, so I just brought a drink & a small snack.  Now, I wasn’t expecting caviar & chocolate mousse, but something to snack on throughout the course of the day.  Veggies, pretzels, cheese cubes, & sliced fruit are pretty typical of events because that stuff can sit out & is easy to eat.  But there wasn’t anything.

Normally, one would ask the person in charge what was going on, but he stepped out for an undetermined amount of time, leaving his event coordinator & assistant completely in the dark regarding wardrobe & accessories.  That meant that the models that were ready to shoot we weren’t able to, so 2 of those girls took a walk to find food.  Their options were limited at 3P on a Sunday on the Near West Side of Chicago & all they could find was Chinese, which they brought back.

As we were eating, the guy in charge came in & immediately reprimanded us for having food.  He told us we were unprofessional for eating food that wasn’t “proper model food”.  He then demanded it be put it away & said we shouldn’t be eating, but that if we were hungry we should’ve been eating something like fruit.  So, apparently, everyone should have just gone without food for 7 hours.  Talk about a morale-killer!  Besides, nothing makes people enjoy an event more than crabby models with no energy, or worse, models passing out because of low blood sugar.

If someone running an event wants his staff to eat certain things, it is up to him to provide that kind of food.  If he can’t provide food, then the professional thing to do is notify people that there won’t be food, & ask them to bring their own, limiting it to whatever he finds acceptable.   It is not unprofessional for models to eat behind the scenes, while waiting for styling and/or instruction, while still dressed in street clothes.

But then came the real knife-twist.  Shortly after the food was put away, we were handed a compensation agreement & asked to sign it.  It was different from what I’d been promised.  Suddenly, we had to choose between $50 for the day or 10 unedited images & 1 edit of the photographer’s choice.  No mention of the sketch.  I tried to ask the guy in charge a few questions, but it was pretty clear he was too busy to listen to me.  So, I sat & thought quite a bit about things, & really weighed my options.

If I walked, I’d have wasted almost 4 hours for nothing, literally.  No photos, no money, no sketch, no tear.  Leaving could’ve damaged my reputation with the other industry people who were there, & I’m not one to back out on my commitments; I act like a professional & respect people enough to stick with something once it’s started.  So I chose to stay, keeping my reputation intact & getting a little something for my time.

So I had to choose: a small amount of money, or one edited image.  I figured I could work with the photographer individually if I really wanted to, so I opted to take the $50.  Broken down, it’s $7.14 an hour.  If you factor in the $8 or so I spent on food & drink (which I wouldn’t have bought if I wasn’t working), the total compensation drops down to about $42.  Basically, I worked the day for about $6 an hour, & that’s not even factoring in the gas I spent on the nearly 60-mile round trip.

It bothered me that the compensation changed, & I wasn’t notified in advance.  I wasn’t even notified promptly at call time, which is when I would have been comfortable leaving.  Advanced notification of the change would have been the professional way to go about things.  Instead, it was just sprung on us nearly 4 hours into the day, when we’d already invested time & money.  But, I sucked it up & did my job as if I was getting paid my standard rate: with a smile on my face & without complaint.

After the event was over I asked the guy in charge about the sketch.  He acknowledged that that was, indeed, part of our deal & made a half-assed attempt to find it.  After a brief search, I was told he couldn’t find them, & that was that.  So no sketch now either.

Initially, I intended to just deal and learn from my mistakes.  But later I decided that if I didn’t speak up, no one would, & this schmuck would go on taking advantage of people because no one called him on it.  So the next day I wrote him a letter addressing all my concerns & asked to be compensated as originally promised.  I chose my words carefully & made sure it was written in a concise, professional manner.  I didn’t just pound out an angry note and send it off.

The next afternoon, I received a response.  He said that an agreement was made, but things didn’t go as expected, so the agreement was modified.  I signed it, & if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been used for the event.  He went on to say he was sorry I wasn’t happy, but the only thing he could do was live up to the written agreement.  Then, he had the gall to tell me that a lot of work went into the event, & he felt congratulations were in order.  He also thanked me, as if that would make it better, & told me that if I had a change of heart & wanted to work with him again, I should let him know.

Then, he called me not too long after responding.  I told him it wasn’t a good time because I wasn’t ready to speak with him, & hung up.  After careful consideration, I wrote him back & said that any discussion could be done in writing, as he had made it abundantly clear that he didn’t respect people enough to honor his spoken agreements.

He wrote me back the next day & said there’s nothing to discuss.  Shortly afterwards he posted on the private group for “preferred” folks involved in the event (which I am still part of) telling everyone, “Don’t ever believe that I don’t appreciate you all.  I am so glad that I choose each & every one of you to be a part of this journey.”  Uh huh.

There is a lesson here, though.  From now on, I will ask for a compensation agreement in writing, in advance, for every event I am booked for.   Upon arrival, I will not do anything without reviewing any paperwork that needs to be signed, & if that paperwork does not match up with what I received prior to the event, I will be leaving.

This might limit who’s willing to book me for events, as well as whom I choose to work with, but I’m ok with that.  I am tired of being taken advantage of, & I am no longer willing to allow it to happen.  If that means I book less events, then so be it.  As a hobbyist, I can afford to be picky.

I heard he “changed the agreement” when it came to numerous other involved parties, so the models weren’t the only ones who got screwed.  To top it off, it’s all just pouring salt in the wound, because everyone who worked the event was asked to promote the event through various means, invite friends, & really hype it up (and many of us did).  Some people’s names are attached to this person’s, and who knows what kind of effect that could have down the road.

Then there’s the true display of integrity & professionalism I mentioned at the beginning.  The photographer involved called me last night & we talked.  He had been unaware, & completely beside himself, that the person running things was using his product to pay people & that we were forced to make a choice so suddenly.  To “make it right”, he has offered all of the models involved a shoot at no charge.  He’s not comfortable providing the images from the event to the models, because it would violate his agreement with the event host, so he’s doing what he can to do something for us as a “thanks, & I’m really sorry you got screwed over too”. Yup, you read that right… he also got screwed.

So now what?  Well, I’m going to stay in touch with the photographer & start thinking about what I want to shoot, & communicate ideas back & forth with him.  Ideally, I’d like to shoot something he can use for his portfolio as well, because it’s only fair.  Chances are, I’ll wait until late fall to work with him, mostly because I’m sure he’ll be busy with previously booked work as well as with the other models involved.

A few people I’ve talked to about this have suggested I take legal action, because the “bait & switch” tactic he pulled could be illegal.  I’ve decided it’s not worth it to bother with screwing around with that, especially for such a small amount of non-monetary goods.  Chances are, this person will get what’s coming to him.  Word of unprofessionalism like this gets around fast in the modeling industry, as people don’t appreciate busting their asses to work with people who lack the integrity to honor their promises.

One can only hope that this person has the decency to not treat his paying clients the way he treated his staff.  I can’t imagine working with someone on what amounts to one of the most important days in your life & dealing with some of the unprofessionalism he exhibited.  Hopefully, when dealing with actual clients, this person is honest, sticks to his word, & is professional enough lets clients know if circumstances change & he cannot deliver as promised.  If I were in the situation to be working with him as a paying client, I most certainly wouldn’t take the chance.

I will definitely not be working with him ever again.  This person’s utter disrespect for the people he hired & abundant display of unprofessionalism has completely, totally ruined any chances of that.  I will continue to leave his name on my credits list in hopes that people contact me to check references.

UPDATE! August 30, 2011

I did finally get a money order for the $50 that I was owed.  I had to ask for it though, and was told on August 25th that the check had mailed the morning of the 24th.  I let this person know that it would have been nice to know of the delay, since the agreement said checks would be delivered by the 21st and not mailed on the 24th.  This is the response I got regarding that:

i didn’t mean to make you feel small. I appreciate you.

I told him, “Appreciation doesn’t pay the bills. Not that that matters, because going back on your word and not notifying people you’d made agreements with until well into the event doesn’t say “appreciation”. No, Robert. THAT says “I don’t give a crap about you and expect you to just be a doormat and accept it”. Nice try. I expect my check to be delivered by Monday the 29th. I’m giving you way more leeway on this than most people would…”.  Yes, cold and a bit heavy-handed, but frankly, I don’t care.  No one deserves the kind of treatment he has shown, and I’m not about to sit quietly and let him think that treating people the way he has done is ok, because it’s overwhelmingly not.

This was his response to me on the 25th, verbatim:

When i say I didn’t mean to make you feel small, I really was trying to let you know that you’re acting soooo small and UNPROFESSIONAL.

But you were even too small to even have caught on.

Now I’m BLOCKING you. And that’s what’s nice about facebook.

What ever it is that happened to you to make you so emotional is just not everybody else’s fault. And if emotionally you can’t handle life, go to doctor and get help, but whatever you do, DO NOT SLANDER OR HARRASS ME.

STOP EMBARRASSING YOURSELF. YOU SHOULD NEVER MAKE YOURSELF THE BUD OF OTHER PEOPLE JOKES. YOU ARE COMING OFF LIKE A CRAZY WOMAN.

LOVE ROBERT

Wow.  And yet I’m the unprofessional one, for desiring to be treated respectfully and compensated as promised, and for being the “squeaky wheel” in making sure that promises are delivered upon when the source has proved to be unreliable.  Right… anyway…

My money order came August 29th.  It was dated August 26th, two days after I was told “the check’s in the mail”.  It has been deposited.  Largely, I am happy.  I hope, however, that this person has learned that he can’t get away with treating people like shit.  If, that is, there’s anyone left in the area who’ll work with him…

June 28, 2011

Rates, Travel Fees & Discounts

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of photographers are getting slammed with ridiculous travel fees.  Add that into the constant complaints about how models often say “my rates are reasonable” and the rates turn out to be just the opposite, as well as the complaints about models who say they’re negotiable and aren’t, and… yea  :/  Anyway, I figured I’d blog some thoughts on rates and explain how I do things.  I feel like my system is pretty professional and easy to work with.

When do you discuss rates?
I like to discuss rates and negotiate before even scheduling a shoot.  I work with the people interested in working with me to come up with a rate that suits their project and budget before we start figuring out the rest.  That way, there are no surprises for those folks I’m working with, and they don’t have to worry about suddenly not being able to afford me, or having a last-minute travel cost added on.

What are your modeling rates and what do they include?
My hourly rate is currently $50 per hour for modeling.  There’s no minimum to the amount of time I’m booked, but I do ask that folks interested in booking me take travel time into consideration.  I’m not likely going to like driving 2 hours each way for a 1-hour shoot.  My rate is flat for everything from commercial-lifestyle to fashion, and includes swimwear, lingerie, and limited implied nudity.  I do not shoot sheer lingerie or any nudes, so that’s a non-issue.  And don’t forget, the clock starts when I arrive on set, so I ask that photographers be conscious of that when planning.

How do you factor in travel costs?
My base rate includes up to 25 miles of travel, and past that I charge 51 cents per additional mile (which is the IRS mileage rate for 2011).  I work all this out on an individual basis before booking, so that the number quoted is as accurate as possible.  Quite often, I ask photographers for addresses or nearest intersections to their studios, so I can map things out in advance, and make sure that I’m not going to slap them in the face with a “oh, by the way, it’s an extra $60 for travel” the night before a shoot.  That’s just not cool, and I certainly wouldn’t appreciate it being done to me.

How did you set your modeling rates?
I initially set rates a couple years ago, when a combination of two things happened.  One, I started being asked for rates fairly regularly, and two, I was being offered more trade work than my schedule would allow.  I asked a few models in my area what their rates were, in an effort to be competitive.  I also started lower than my current rate, and built up based on both my experience level and how valuable my time is.  I do periodically review my rates and the marketplace, and look at what I’m offering compared to other models of my caliber, and adjust if necessary.

You offer discounts?  Do tell!
I offer discounts to students, because I remember what it was like to be eating Ramen for weeks to get a pair of shoes something I really wanted.  The student discount varies based on numerous things, so I can’t give an exact number.  But if you’re a student and are interested in hiring me, drop me a line and we’ll talk 😉

I also offer discounts when I’m booked by a single photographer in 4-hour blocks (half day) and 8-hour blocks (full day).  Typically, instead of charging $200 for a 4-hour shoot, I charge just $150, which is, essentially, like getting a free hour.  For 8-hour shoots, instead of charging $400, I charge $325, which is a $75 discount (it’s like a free hour and a half).

I have also offered discounts to photographers who are located less than 5 miles from me, or who hire me and then shoot at a location that’s that close.  I offer a 25% discount off my hourly rate for nearby shoots, which means it’s just $37.50 an hour if we’re shooting just 5 miles from my location.

Can multiple photographers split your rates?
I allow up to 4 photographers to book me as the sole model for a shoot for either a half day or full day.  I do not, however, offer the same discount for multiple-photographer bookings that I offer for single photographers.  Why no discount?  Because you’re splitting the $200 or $400 between up to 4 people, which makes it cheaper per person all around.

I ask that no more than 4 photographers book me at once because more than 4 photographers proves to be too many photographers, and means I can’t spend much time posing for each one.  I like to make sure that, when I’m hired, photographers are getting their money’s worth.

How willing to negotiate are you?
I’m pretty open to negotiating, or at the very least, discussing options.  I know things are tough and that many photographers are hobbyists.  The most common negotiation I do is working in exchange for wardrobe or wardrobe plus heavily discounted rates.  Sometimes, this is wardrobe purchased by the photographer and worn at the shoot, then given to me.  Other times, it’s wardrobe in the form of a giftcard, so that I can purchase stuff later on (not necessarily for use on that particular shoot or with that specific photographer).  I always tell photographers not to be afraid to ask models (or me in particular) about negotiating, because chances are, we’re open to it.  If you have something to offer, I won’t know unless you put it on the table!

Do you require deposits to book?
Typically, I don’t.  Though if I were traveling to your area specific to shoot, I would require a retainer, which would be applied to the final total.  I might also require a deposit or retainer to secure a date if a photographer had cancelled on me before.  This is, of course, something I look at on a case-by-case basis.

May 3, 2011

Getting out of a Creative Block

A photographer on one of the modeling sites, HT Portraits, shared a blog post of his, which discusses some ideas on overcoming a learning plateau in terms of photography.  Given my last entry, and how the team I worked with stepped outside our comfort zone, I thought it would be appropriate to share his blog with you.

Before I do that though, I would like to address it from a modeling standpoint, as quite often a model reaches a creative plateau that can put her in a funk (of sorts) and result in all kinds of issues.  Boring, still poses, the same facial expression over and over, doing the same kind of shoots over and over… you get the idea.  I have definitely been stuck on that plateau before… and it sucks.  So, I’m going to take this blogger’s suggestions for photographers, and write some tips for models.  Here they are… 10 tips for moving past a learning plateau, for models.

  1. Ask questions.  And ask again.  Ask the photographers you work with to explain something about their lighting.  Ask models you know how they practice their poses, or acheive certain expressions.  Ask models and photographers about styling (or drop by your favorite retail store and ask an employee to help style you).  Ask an MUA you’re working with for a quick tip on makeup application.  Ask, ask, ask!  You can’t learn more if you don’t.
  2. Take a risk and try something new.  Step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never done before.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to try something you’re totally uncomfortable with (like nudes, or fetish), but try out a genre you’ve never done (pinup or horror, perhaps?) .  Maybe try out a new pose or a new expression (don’t be afraid to be vocal while shooting).  Go through  your closet and find 3 articles of clothing you’ve shot in before, and figure out a way to style each one dramatically different.  You won’t know it won’t work until you try it, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
  3. Read through forums for an uninterrupted amount of time.  The forums on many modeling sites can be a wealth of information.  And a great source of entertainment.  Spend some time browsing through them and reading posts, looking at the profiles of people who post often, and just absorbing the knowledge that’s there.  If that’s not enough, you can use a site like www.tfp.me to search for posts on a specific subject, and learn more.
  4. Start an inspiration collection.  I’m a huge advocate of this, and have mentioned it before, numerous times.  See an image that inspires you? Save it to a folder on your desktop.  See an ad in a magazine you like?  Tear it out and put it in a binder.  Store window catch your eye?  Snap a pic on your cell phone and email it to yourself to save.  Carry a small notebook with you to write down ideas as they come to you, or even sketch things out.  Inspiration is everywhere, and when you open your mind to it, you’ll be surprised how fast it can come to you.  Especially when in conjunction with #2.
  5. Aim high.  Don’t just look for inspiration in average places.  Look at the best of the best, and see what they’ve done.  Be inspired to be the best, by the best.  Sometimes, though, inspiration can be found in a poorly done image, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Just strive to not only be inspired by what you find, but to do it better.
  6. Find mentors.  Everyone can use a mentor, no matter how experienced you may be.  Look for someone to offer you tips and advice in an area you want to excel in, and then ask questions.  Perhaps see if you can shadow them for a day.  Maybe find a mentor in a different area–a photographer for example, instead of another model–to help teach you about other aspects of your craft.
  7. Take a break.  I’m also an advocate of this, having done it numerous times myself.  The length of the break doesn’t matter–take however much time you need, and don’t let anyone pressure into coming back until you feel you’re ready.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as turning off the computer and putting down the smartphone for a night, or a weekend.  Other times, you have to step away for a few weeks, or even months.  Stepping away from something, no matter how much you enjoy it, can give you a fresh look at things when you come back to it.
  8. Teach others.  Sharing your knowledge can be very rewarding, and you can also learn things from those with whom you’re sharing.  Offer to mentor a new model, or host a workshop for new photographers.  See a question being asked in the forums that you know an answer to?  Answer it!
  9. Get paid.  When you are getting paid, often, more is expected of you.  And quite often, that alone makes you step up your game and work harder.  When you work harder, you learn more, not just about what you’re doing, but about yourself.
  10. Enjoy the journey.  That’s right, enjoy what it is you’re doing along the way to wherever it is you want to be.  Take some time to make art, to shoot what you want to shoot.  Immerse yourself in a concept you’ve been dying to do, or something you’ve never done (see #’s 2 and 4), and while you’re doing it, have fun.  Never, ever forget to have fun.  If you do, once you reach your goal, you’ll look back and find yourself wondering if it was worth it.  You can still work hard, but take some time to enjoy both your work, and the results from your work.
So those are my thoughts on breaking out of a creative funk, or learning plateau, as HT Portraits calls it.  A model’s POV.

Now, take some time to read a photographer’s take on it, for other photographers.  

Though models can learn from HT as well 😉

Beating a Learning Plateau in Photography

April 29, 2011

No Answer is an Answer

This one wasn’t on my “Reader’s Choice” list for some reason, but I’ve been sitting on this draft for awhile.  This week, on one of the modeling forums, this topic has been quite a popular one, so I’ve opted to finish up the draft and go with it, to round out this week’s entries.  Enjoy.

So, you’ve sent someone you’re interested in working with a message.  For whatever reason, you’ve monitored whether or not the message has been read, and you see that it has.  Despite this, the model hasn’t replied to you.  Not a peep from her.

First of all, why are you sitting and monitoring whether or not the messages you’ve sent have been read?!  Seems like such a waste of time, and I’ve never understood why people do that.  Send the message, and move on.  Certainly, you have better things to do with your time than wait for “unread” to change “read”, right?  I’d hope so!

Why might a model simply not respond, instead of taking a few seconds to just say “no”?
There are tons of reasons a model might not respond.  Some of the most common ones are…

  1. She forgot.  As silly as it sounds, it happens.  She may have opened your message on her phone, and realized her reply was going to be longer than was worth trying to type on her phone, and intended to answer you on the computer later.  And of course, since once you’ve read the message, it’s no longer “new”, it dropped off her radar.  It happens to all of us, at one point or another.
  2. The message offers her something she clearly states she’s not interested in doing.  Nude, fetish and erotic work would be the most common here.  Many models don’t reply to messages for work they note they are not interested in doing, because they’ve already expressed their lack of interest.
  3. It wasn’t clear in the initial message that the sender actually wants to shoot with her.  A message that states “you have beautiful work” doesn’t mean “I want to work with you”.
  4. The message was SPAMing rates.
  5. The message insulted her portfolio or the people she’s worked with.  I shouldn’t have to say it, but many models get messages that start out with insulting anecdotes about their portfolios or the photographers they’ve worked with, and some of us don’t appreciate it.  Why insult someone you want to work with?  Silliness.
  6. The grammar and spelling in the initial message is so poor, she foresees it being a pain in the ass to communicate with you, and opts to just not bother.
  7. The copy-pasta went wrong and the bottled message was accidentally addressed  to someone other than the model.  If you can’t bother to make sure you’re addressing your message to the right person, well… yea.

And sadly, another common reason (and perhaps the most common one for more experienced models) models don’t respond to offers they’re not interested in accepting?  People who can’t take “no” for an answer, and get pushy or butthurt because of it.

Yup.  Thank your colleagues who, after being told “thank you, but I’m not interested” or “I’m not doing TF* right now, but my rates are…” get passive-aggressive, insulting, and downright mean.  I know many models who have experienced this, and I have myself on numerous occasions.  I’ve been told I’m a shitty model not worth paying, a bitch who didn’t know what she was missing, and other random things I don’t care to look up.  Some gems though, and totally uncalled for when the response given is professional.

There are also the few who, despite being told “thanks but I’m not interested” continue to push the model, asking if changing X, Y or Z would make a difference, or insisting on hearing why they’re not interested.  This kind of behavior is a huge turn off, because if someone is that pushy just to shoot, it makes one wonder what the shoot itself will be like… and more often than not, it causes the recipient to say “not worth it” and move on.

Let’s put it in perspective…
When you get flyers for, say, a landscaper, shoved in your front door, and you’re not interested in hiring that landscaper, do you call them and say “hey, thanks for the lawn mowing offer, but I’ve already got a reliable landscaper, so I’m not interested in hiring you”?  No.  You just recycle the flyer and move on.

When you get an email from B&H letting you know that they have a zoom lens on sale for $3000 from $3100, do you respond to the email letting them know that the measly $100 discount isn’t going to get you to buy the lens, because you know of a place that’s got the same lens at a $400 discount and just offered you free shipping?  No, you just delete the email and move on.

When a model goes to a casting call for a gig, does she sit by her phone waiting for them to call her so they can tell her “thanks for coming by, but you’re a 5’7″ brunette and we casted for a 5’9″ redhead, so, sorry, but you’re not right for this one”?  No.  Them not calling is them saying “your look isn’t what we were looking for, but thanks”.

Is there anything you can do?
If you are super interested in booking the model, you can try the follow up.  Wait a week or so and then send a message that says, “just wanted to update you on my availability” or “I need to book this shoot by [date] so if you’re interested please let me know”.  Don’t be a dick about it, just be polite and professional.  It’s quite possible that she intended to reply and forgot, or that her reply didn’t go through because of a glitch in the messaging system (it happens).

While you’re waiting to hear back, don’t dwell on the message and definitely don’t stop messaging other models.  And if you find someone to book the gig (if you were looking to book a specific one) while waiting to hear back, then it’s a good thing.  Far better, at least, than sitting around waiting for one model to get back to you 😉

The drawback to following up?
The drawback to the follow up is that, sometimes, the fact that the message was read and not replied to means, truly, that they’re not interested.  It might irritate the model a bit to get a follow up.  But that’s a risk you are going to have to take if you decide to go with the follow up message.  Of course, if the model goes superbitch on you for sending a follow up message, then consider it a bullet dodged 😉

Raise your chances of models responding positively.
Look at the portfolios and read the profiles of the models you’re messaging.  Does the work they express interest in shooting (and that’s in their portfolio) jive with what you’re looking to shoot?  Good.  Do they say “not interested in shooting…” and then list what you’d like to shoot?  If so, avoid messaging them.  Also, make sure their last login date is recent (say, within the past 2 weeks to a month) before you click “send message”.  It’s very unlikely you’ll hear back from someone who hasn’t logged into the site in over a year.

When you send your initial message, start off by sending a message that outlines what you’re looking to shoot, when you’d like to shoot, and what the compensation will be.  That’s the important information a model needs to know in order to begin considering your offer.  There’s no need to go on and on about the model’s beauty and all that–we get that you like our look and that’s why you contacted us.  There’s also no need to insult the work that’s in the model’s portfolio, tell her a certain photograph is unflattering, or speak poorly of those she’s worked with in the past.

And lastly, don’t be a jackass if someone doesn’t respond the way you feel you deserve.  This includes being sent rates, being turned down, and not getting a response at all.  Don’t take any of that personally, because it’s not personal, and simply move on to find someone willing to accept what you’re offering.  Be professional, and be patient if you have to.

The bottom line?  
No answer means, “thanks, but I’m not interested”.   Your best bet?  Move on.

April 25, 2011

Clothing Sizes & Women

I’m going to share this article because, while it’s relevant to all women, it’s also relevant to models, because it’s getting harder and harder to list an actual, accurate dress size because of stuff like this (especially if you don’t have access to designer size charts, and/or don’t work with designer garments).  And all you hobbyist models who quite often purchase their own wardrobe for shoots (or deal with photographers saying “I’ll just buy what I need for you, what size are you?”), certainly you share my frustration with shopping and finding the right fit.  Especially when on a tight budget and/or looking to buy in a short time frame.

It seems, though, that some people are getting so sick of vanity sizing, they’re working to figure stuff out, starting by tracking measurements of sized garments across many different stores and brands (and even within brands and designers).  Some malls/stores even have full body scanners (don’t worry, it doesn’t sound like they’re run by the TSA, haha) to help women find the right size (or at least limit the amount of guesswork that needs to be done).

Check it out: One Size Fits Nobody: Seeking a Steady 4 or a 10

And don’t miss this nifty chart, linked on the left side of the article:

April 22, 2011

Pre-Shoot Meetings.

Quite often you hear photographers encouraging other photographers to require a model to attend a pre-shoot meeting in order to tell whether or not she’ll flake, to make sure she looks like her photos, to make sure you’re on the same page with shoot concepts, or to see whether your personalities will “mesh” well enough so that the shoot will be a success.  Or you hear models (or the occasional white-knight photographer) telling others to go to a pre-shoot meeting to ensure the photographer isn’t a creep.  I have even heard pre-shoot meetings likened to casting calls!  There’s a lot wrong with all of that, so let’s start at the beginning…

The “So I Know You Won’t Flake” & The “Do You Look Like Your Pics” Pre-Shoot Meetings
I’m going to lump these into 1, because they’re both fairly short.

First, meeting with someone once before a shoot doesn’t guarantee they won’t flake on the actual shoot.  A flake is a flake, and they often don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong when they flake.  Also, being able to make a pre-shoot meeting doesn’t mean that something legit won’t happen to prevent a model from making a shoot.  Life happens, and sometimes, it interferes with things like photoshoots.

Second, if you aren’t sure exactly what a model looks like, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask to see unretouched “polaroid” type photos.  Most models will not bat an eye at providing these, if they’re not in their online portfolios or linked somehow already.  Those who do have an issue with providing polaroids… you probably don’t want to work with anyway.
Both of these things can be figured out by checking references and/or asking around in the local community.  When you check references, ask if the model showed up on time and was an accurate representation of the images she presents online.  If you have some trusted sources, ask them as well… word of a flake gets around quickly.

The “Yay, We’re On The Same Page” Pre-Shoot Meeting
If a photographer and I are working together on a concept that requires extensive planning, or I am art-directing a shoot, I will meet ahead of time to discuss ideas, if a phone call and/or emails aren’t cutting it.  I have done this a handful of times in the past 5 years, and will continue to do so if necessary.  However, the vast majority of the time emails (with the occasional attached image) and a rare phone call have been sufficient.

When I work with photographers on hosting workshops or events, I have no problems meeting in advance to discuss initial ideas, and I often try to schedule a ‘dry-run’ type thing a couple of days prior to the event if necessary.  I prefer to do this at the location hosting the workshop so that I can see the space I’m going to be working with and (initially) make sure the space is going to suit the group coming in for the workshop/event.  Of course, if I’m hosting at a space I’ve used before, it often becomes easier for both of us to plan via email or phone, with just a dry run a day or two ahead of time.

If a photographer looking to hire me or work TF* and wants to meet in advance, he will have to provide a darn good reason why a set of poloroids (I’ll even hold up the day’s newspaper, after I go buy one LOL) won’t work, and will have to work with my schedule.    I have no problems talking on the phone before a shoot (in fact, I absolutely require a phone number and email address to officially book a shoot).

The “Let’s Make Sure We Get Along” Pre-Shoot Meeting
A shoot is a job, even for hobbyists.  A model is there to pose and help the photographer capture an image in a way that suits his (or her) vision.  A shoot is not a social gathering or date, so there should be no reason to be so concerned with personalities “meshing”.  What matters more, during a shoot, is whether the model can follow direction given by the photographer, thus doing her part to help the final idea come to fruition.  Unless you’re doing a test shoot during your pre-shoot meeting, you won’t be able to tell that until the actual shoot.  Well, you won’t know this if you’re not asking “does the model take direction well” when you check her references, that is.

That’s right, another good reason to check references: asking if the model takes direction well, and whether she does what is asked of her to get the shot.

The “Just Making Sure You’re Not A Creep” Pre-Shoot Meeting
Now, I realize that “creepy” is quite often subjective, and based on individual feelings/thoughts.  That said, for those models who use a pre-shoot meeting to screen photographers their working with (instead of doing things like checking references), well… that’s not the right (or smart) way to go about things.

Make sure someone isn’t a “creep” by checking references with 3-5 other models they’ve worked with.  I wrote a whole blog on checking references here, in case you’re not sure how to go about doing this.  It’s a much smarter way to go about things, and, at the very least, you won’t have wasted both your time and the photographer’s time with a pre-shoot meeting.

Why A Pre-Shoot Meeting Isn’t A Casting Call

An in-person casting call (as opposed to something posted on a site like Model Insider) is a casting call.  They are usually held at a studio and are usually open to whoever is interested in the part (and meets certain requirements).  If, for whatever reason, a photographer is holding a casting at his studio, and I fit the bill, then yes, I’ll go.  I have in the past and I will continue to do so as long as I’m modeling.  There have been times when castings have resulted in, essentially, a waste of my time, but they were casting calls, and that’s part of the business–I go in knowing there’s a possibility I won’t get the job, or that once I get more details it’s something I’m not a good fit for, and I’ve accepted that.

If you want to hold a casting, hold a casting.  But don’t just sit your ass down in your local Starbucks and wait for one model to show up, and call it a casting.  That’s not only misleading to the model, but very likely a huge waste of your time too.  And who wants that?

The Bottom Line
Monday thru Friday, I work full-time in the Chicago suburbs, have a husband that works 16+ hours a day, and have a dog that needs to be taken care of (which usually falls on me because of my husband’s schedule), not to mention the typical household responsibilities.  On weekends I’m either shooting (or doing other modeling-related stuff, like organizing for a workshop), spending time with friends or family, or doing household things that didn’t get done during the week.  I will not drive over an hour (or more, with construction) into the city of Chicago or to a far away ‘burb for a 30-minute (or less) “great, we both like this idea” or “cool, you look like your pictures” meeting.  I check references, so I don’t have to worry about “are you a creep” meetings.

Many hobbyist models are in the same boat I am–working full-time, running a household and being responsible for a family, and shooting when they have time–so if you require a pre-shoot meeting, it might be a turnoff for them.  After all, there are plenty of other things they’d likely rather do than meet you for coffee to discuss things that either aren’t relevant to your shoot, work out details that could be done over email or a phone call, or prove to you something you could have found out by simply checking their references.  In short, they’re not going to want to waste their precious time on you, and will very likely just find someone else to work with.

April 21, 2011

Why Public Blacklists Are Bad

Public blacklists–lists of people an individual doesn’t recommend working with–can be found on many profiles on Internet modeling sites.  They are often fueled by anger and judgement, and are usually created and added to during the heat of the moment, while one is angry due to the actions of the very person they’re blacklisting.  The list-maker usually just wants to “get back” at the person whom they feel wronged them, and quite often, the list maker doesn’t pause to think of the consequences to themselves that these lists often have.

Consequences for the person with the list, instead of the people on the list?  You bet!

As someone who takes what she does seriously, I don’t like the idea of working with someone who’s got a flake list a mile long (or even just a handful of names) on their profile page.  In fact, it makes me wonder what in the world that person has done to cause so many people to no show up, or otherwise not deliver as promised.  But instead of asking what the deal is, I’ll just move on and find someone else to work with, because it’s far less of a headache.

Additionally, a profile that’s got a “do not recommend” list on it makes me wonder if the only purpose of the list itself is to get vengeance on someone, and not actually help out the person who might be looking to work with the person on the list.  With a blacklist telling only one side of the story, it’s quite possible that (for example) the model ended up there because she refused to let herself be pressured into shooting something she wasn’t comfortable with, and the photographer put here there to get back at her for not giving him what he wants.  Or maybe the model’s there because she refused to TF* with the photographer, but paid his biggest competitor for a shoot.  Maybe she bugged him for 6 months asking for images from a TF* shoot, and he got sick of it and blacklisted her.  It’s impossible to know.

A blacklist also means that I have to be concerned about ending up on a blacklist.  Not because I’m a flake, but because if something out of my control were to happen to spoil the shoot, would it earn me a spot on that list, or would I not have to worry?  That doesn’t appeal to me in the least.  I’d rather just not book with that person, because then I don’t have to worry about finding out.  Given the choice, I’d rather work with someone I trust to deliver and not hold a grudge than someone who’s got a list on his or her profile.

And that brings me to another point.  Experiences vary by person, and sometimes, personalities just don’t match up, making working together a challenge.  What one person might view as ok behavior, another might think is a diva attitude.  A joke a photographer tells on set might make one model laugh, and could offend another.  You get the idea.  Because of this, it’s hard to take blacklists seriously.  How do you know the reason the photographer or model is on that person’s blacklist is more than just a simple personality difference, which resulted in a strained or awkward shoot?  You don’t.

That said, how do you even know the 2 parties worked together?  A friend of mine was put on a blacklist by someone because they had a disagreement on one of the modeling site forums.  They’d never worked together, never talked about working together, and weren’t even in the same state.  But because there was an argument on the forums, my friend was blacklisted.  (It was asked by site moderators, later, that the person with the list limit it only to people they’d actually booked work with, and to remove people they’d simply disagreed with in the forums.   But yea…)

What if you get the other side of the story?

I suppose one could message everyone on someone’s blacklist, but who has time for that?  I don’t.  I’d much rather just work with someone who keeps their drama to themselves.  If they have drama, that is 😉

In a nutshell? Having a blacklist on your profile makes you look like a grudge-holding drama queen.  And that’s a bad thing.

Keep your blacklist private, and share specific experiences if asked.  Much more professional.

March 15, 2011

Yay Nerdiness!

A photographer I’ve worked with often, Ryan a.k.a. Hallopino, was featured and interviewed in the online magazine RKYV.  He chose one of our many shots together as one to send into them as an example of this work, and RKYV chose that shot to be the cover of the issue he’s in 🙂  I’m also on page 23 of the ‘zine, where they note why they chose that particular shot.  Click the images to view them larger.

Check out the magazine and the rest of Ryan’s interview here: RKYV Online

Here are a few more of the shots we’ve done together.  A little small, but mostly to save space.  Here they are, in no particular order 🙂

  1. Go Bears!
  2. Comix v.Something.0
  3. Accordion Rockstar
  4. Fashion, for Erika Hendrix
  5. Werewolf
  6. Ice Queen

There’ve been a bunch more shoots we’ve done together, but those are the ones I had available right now  (and largely, fan favorites) 🙂

And again, Ryan’s website is www.hallopino.com.  Check it out!


March 11, 2011

My Pre-Shoot Prep & Pep Routine

After so many years modeling (gosh, it feels weird saying it that way, but it’s true), I’ve gotten into, what I feel is, a great pre-shoot routine.  I’ve decided to take some time to share it with you, because a lot of new models have been asking about it.  I opted to start a few weeks out, instead of just the night before, because I do a lot of work for every shoot I do, and it’s generally much appreciated.

Few Weeks to 1 Week Out:

  • Work on getting a few basic ideas set with the photographer, to make sure we’re on the same page.
  • Once ideas are set, scan thru ideas folders for pose, wardrobe, and hair/makeup inspiration.
  • Put ideas into a separate folder and organize by look (using more folders).
  • Send a couple shots to the photographer as a “here’s what I’m thinking” kinda thing.  Generally it’s just hair, makeup and wardrobe ideas.  This concretes that we’re on the same page.

2 Days Before:

  • Print out all ideas, organized by look.
  • Gather up all wardrobe and accessories I plan on wearing, and try on all outfits.
  • Make adjustments as necessary (not everything looks as good on as it does in my head).
  • Any major adjustments to wardrobe get sent in a note to the photographer.  Minor changes are hand-written on printouts.
  • Make sure all wardrobe is clean, nicely hung, and pressed (if necessary).

The Night Before:

  • Get wardrobe/accessories and any hair/makeup products together.
  • Make a list of all items coming with me to the shoot (wardrobe, accessories, shoes, undergarments, etc.).
  • Make sure any ideas I have (printouts of poses, wardrobe ideas, etc.) are in bag.
  • Make sure everything that is coming with me is by front door so nothing gets forgotten. (Now that I have a garage, I could load up the car the night before instead, but some things might not be great exposed to heat/cold overnight, and others might be best left hanging as long as possible to prevent wrinkles.)
  • If, for whatever reason, something can’t be put by the front door, write a note and stick it to the doorknob.
  • Write down phone numbers, addresses and basic directions.  Make a second copy of same to have at home.
  • Create shoot playlist for iPod for drive to shoot. (I generally base this around the theme of the shoot, and vary it per shoot.)
  • Plug in cell next to bed to charge.
  • Set alarm for 2 hours prior to when I have to leave.  (I do this even if it’s a different alarm from my wake up, so I know when I need to start getting ready.)
  • Get in the shower to shave legs, do face mask, and deep condition hair.  Do not dry hair after shower–let air dry.
  • Take a hot bath with a glass of white wine, a few cubes of cheese, and good book.  (Remember to lock dog out of bathroom to avoid whining and/or nudging of wine glass into tub.)
  • Get to bed early enough to allow at least 7-8 hours of sleep.

The Morning Of:

  • Wake up, brush teeth, and shower (don’t condition hair, and shave pits in shower, just before hopping out).
  • Have a small bowl of cereal, or 2 scrambled eggs, and coffee.  Quick, easy breakfast that won’t make me bloat, and won’t have my tummy grumbling an hour into the shoot.
  • Brush teeth again.
  • Dress in loose fitting clothes to avoid lines, regardless of what I’m shooting.
  • Load up car.  Double check to make sure everything is in car.
  • Make sure I have purse, cell phone and iPod, as well as directions and photographer’s info.
  • Drop photographer a “leaving my place now” call or text.
  • Plug in iPod and start awesome playlist.
  • Head out.
  • If there’s time, swing by a gas station or Walgreens and grab a 20oz. bottle of Mountain Dew.  (Because I’m a caffeine addict.)

So there you have it.  Lots of work, and lots of little details, but it’s a routine I’ve gotten pretty familiar with now (hence why I’m calling it a routine) 🙂  Even after a break, I find myself falling naturally into it.

%d bloggers like this: