Posts tagged ‘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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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:

IS THERE ANYTHING BESIDES LOCATION, STYLE, AND BUDGET THAT I SHOULD CONSIDER IN CHOOSING MY RATES?
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:

SHOULD I KEEP DOING TF AFTER I START CHARGING RATES?
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 www.newmodels.com 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 www.newmodels.com.  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 www.newmodels.com 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 https://markniemi.com/-Pose_Like_A_Pro__.html

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.

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…

July 20, 2011

Upcoming Event: A Sneak Preview of “The White Collection – LUXE”

I have the honor of modeling for bridal designer Atha Sharod in the Atha & Friends Present A Sneak Preview of “The White Collection – LUXE” event coming up on Sunday, August 7.  

Brides who attend the event will get a sneak preview of Atha Sharod’s The White Collection – LUXE, which features beautiful couture bridal gowns and honeymoon negligees.  Atha Sharod’s stunning pieces are made from 100% silk and French imported laces, and are custom made for each bride to ensure a perfect fit.  In addition to getting a chance to see Atha Sharod’s beautiful White Collection – LUXE, event guests will have a chance to sample wedding cake, enjoy music, food, champagne, gift bags and most importantly, the beautiful wedding gowns.  They will also get to experience a live photo shoot by Wedding and Engagement Photographer, Tuan H. Bui.  The photos from the shoot will be used for the catalog and website that the company will use to promote the collection.  Robert Sharod, the designer, says “I created this collection as a tribute to the American woman. I wanted her to know that she could be independent and yet be feminine at the same time” when describing his collection.  Brides, this event is one that’s not to be missed!

This incredible, one-of-a-kind bridal event will take place Sunday, August 7 from 4P to 7P, and will be held at the Loft on Lake, located at 1366 West Lake, Chicago, IL.  Tickets are less than $25 and can be bought in advance here: athasharodbridal.eventbrite.com  You can RSVP for the event on Facebook too… but be sure to buy your tickets in advance!

Check out this list of incredible preferred vendors for the event!

  • Wedding Planner: Charity & Gabriela with A La Moda Events
  • Photographer: Tuan H Bui
  • Videographer: Al with Elite Video Productions
  • Fashion Illustrator: Rosemary Fanti
  • Bouquet Preservationist: Loreen Hospodar
  • Make Up Artist: Tracy Ballog
  • Bridal Stylist: Susan from the Left Bank
  • Menu Tastings: Norman’s Bistro & Cedar’s Mediterranean
  • Wedding Cake & Bakery: Richard with Rueter’s Bakery
  • Dessert Tray Stylist: Lizabeth with Fancy Candies & Sweet Buffets
  • Vocalist: Karen Dade
  • Live Trio: The Bons Vivants

Brides, if you’re looking to make your wedding a classy, beautiful event, the Atha & Friends Present A Sneak Preview of “The White Collection – LUXE” event is THE place to go to find everything you’ll need to make your special day memorable.

Check out Atha Sharod online:
The official Atha Sharod website: www.athasharodbridal.com
Become a fan on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Atha-Sharod-Bridal/166098103434102
Be friends on Facebook: www.facebook.com/athasharodbridal
Follow Atha Sharod on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AthaBridal
Robert’s Blog: athasharodbridal1.blogspot.com

June 30, 2011

How Many Edits & Who Picks?

It’s often asked, and often debated: how many edits should a model get from each shoot, and who picks what gets edited?  Here’s my take on how many photos a model needs per shoot, as well as who should choose the pics… and some other stuff.

I’ll start out by saying that, largely, every photographer is different, and how they choose to do things is different.  For this very reason, it’s important to discuss image receipt expectations (and realities) with every photographer you’re thinking of working with before you schedule a shoot.  This way, there’s no surprises, and no reason to back out of a shoot if you find out that the photographer works in a way you don’t agree with, and there’s less likely to be issues with someone being unhappy with what they got (or didn’t get) after the shoot.

What does a model need for her book?
Generally, a model only needs 1 great shot per look for her book.  However, in some cases, it might be best to receive 3-5 images per look so that she can choose which she wants to upload, so she can have the option to upload different shots to various sites, or create a diptych or triptych (with permission, of course) to tell a story.  Uploading more than, say, 10 shots from a single look can lessen the effect of the look, and can weaken the set overall (after all, you’re only as good as your worst shot).

This actually applies to photographers as well.  Too many images from one look with a model can weaken your book instead of strengthen it.

Who chooses what gets edited?
When I was a newer model, I liked to go through and choose photos.  It gave me an opportunity to see everything we had done and study how I moved and emoted.  But eventually, I realized that I was working TF* with photographers based on the work that was in their portfolio, which, presumably, was work they had chosen to edit.  So I stopped spending time choosing photos, and often let photographers know that I am fine with their choices.  I have found that this has helped me get edits faster too, which is nice–there’s no lag time where the photographer’s waiting for me to choose edits.

Formats, sizes, and prints… what?!
Generally I make sure that I receive one unwatermarked image that is high quality enough (and properly sized) so that if I choose to, I can make a 9×12″ print from it.  Sometimes, I request a specific image from the set of edits, to receive in this format, because I know it’s something I definitely want in my book.  In some cases, I’ve been provided with a print release from photographers, but not always.  It is something I’ve had to ask for before, and rarely is a problem if I explain I’m getting prints made for my portfolio.  Past that, as long as I get the one shot in an unwatermarked

Shout out to Blue Cube Imaging, who I use for printing.  Brent and his team always do top-notch work, and come highly recommended by myself and many others.

I recommend that photographers deliver photos in JPG format.  JPGs are generally the best format for uploading to the web, and if they’re high enough resolution, are fine for printing as well (though the TIFF file format prints well too if it’s high enough resolution).  Most models don’t have the proper software to view anything other than JPGs, GIFs and BMPs, and most portfolio websites only accept GIF and JPG files for upload.  So JPG is generally the way to go.  Some sites may mess up your image’s colors if you don’t properly embed the color profile.  Pat Yuen wrote a blog that kinda might help explaining that, so if you’re curious, go here.

Requesting all unedited photos from a shoot.
It’s not necessary that a model get all of the unedited photos, and it’s certainly not the norm.  After all, what in the world is she going to do with hundreds of unedited, full-size images?  Likely nothing.  However, I remember a time where seeing virtually every frame from a shoot was helpful.  It showed me what worked, what didn’t, and what I needed to work on.  It was a very effective learning tool for me.  But I have hundreds of CDs laying around with unedited images on them, and nothing to do with those images (and no desire to look at them, at this point).

Models, you should never expect to get unedited images at all, let alone a CD of every shot from the shoot, full size and unedited.  Photographers that provide this are not the norm, and certainly not the majority in most places.  Largely, there’s no need for you to have hundreds of images from one shoot.  

If a model asks to see unedited (or sometimes worded “raw”) images, I recommend going thru them (after copying them all to a new folder so as not to overwrite or delete anything) and removing everything you absolutely do not want published–things like blurry images, blinks or weird faces that don’t look good, light misfires, wardrobe malfunctions, whatever.  Why remove those shots?  Because, again, you’re only as good as your worst shot, and if a model really likes how she looks in a picture, she might put it up even if it’s not in focus, because, well, the photographer did give it to her.  Then watermark all of the images, across the middle with “proof” or “sample”.  Make it transparent, so that the model can still see her whole pose and expression, but make it obvious.  And finally, make the images web-size only, but too small to upload anywhere and look decent.  Perhaps something like 400 pixels on the longest side.  Then, you’ve got a thumbnail gallery in which the model can see her poses and expressions, more or less, but she’ll be deterred from uploading the unedited images.

Photographers, it’s worth noting that if you’re going to provide all of the unedited images, even watermarked, there’s some risk that a model might upload some or all of them somewhere.  Sure, she’ll look like an idiot for uploading an image marked “proof” (provided you do that), but if you provide everything, that’s your problem to deal with.  In some cases, a model might upload an unedited image if you’re lagging on providing edits, because she needs to update her book or is excited about the shoot.  So think long and hard about whether you wish to provide unedited images at all.

If I hire a model, do I still need to give them photos from the session?
Generally, if you’re hiring a model, you don’t need to provide images from the session.  It’s always nice to get one or two edited images as a “hey, thanks again, check out the stuff we got” kinda thing, but it’s not necessary or expected (generally).  If you make it clear that your transaction will be simple (model poses, photographer pays), then you can edit on your own time and not have to worry about busting your hump to provide images in a reasonable amount of time.  But, as in the case with sending images, discuss this in advance to help eliminate unpleasant surprises.

Most important point?
Discuss it all before a shoot.  Models, if you have certain things you wish to get from a shoot, be up front about it.  Photographers, if you only deliver images a certain way, let the models know.  In the end, it’s less frustration for everyone.

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