Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Getting Paid What You Are Worth

First off, I want to say HAPPY TUESDAY and I am sorry that I did not have this post ready for your morning coffee yesterday as usual. I was getting back in my groove because I just got back late Sunday night from a 4-day business trip to Atlanta. I was the personal makeup artist/hair and wardrobe stylist on set for a young new up and coming pop artist named Lia who was shooting the music video for her first single Y.A.L.I. (Young and Living It). I had the privilege of being the same triple threat on set of her first professional photo shoot about a month ago and since she and her parents loved me so much I get to continue working with her as her career rapidly grows and am truly honored! This job was one of "those" jobs... you know, the ones that let you know that all of your hard "working for less than you are worth" jobs do eventually bring you the gigs that make it all worth while.

So, as I thought of my blog title, I had a short back and forth conversation with a photographer client of mine who was trying to find out my availability for an upcoming commercial shoot that he wants to hire me for. He was telling me that it was a trade shoot for him,  despite the fact that he will be paying both me and the model out of his own pocket, but that his hopes were that he would get some paid work from them in the future. That inspired my post even more. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about... "trade shoot" is a term in this industry that photographers, models, makeup artists, hair stylists and wardrobe stylists are VERY familiar with and might I add repulsed with. What does it mean? Well it means that you are so awesome that a client wants to "hire" you but that you will NOT be getting paid for your time, efforts, gas, products used or your amazing expertise. It is like bartering with a very short end of the stick that is never being held by the "client".

This term originated and makes sense for people who are "building their book"; industry lingo for needing pictures so you can book paid gigs... it's kind of like proving yourself worthy of hiring. For people starting out, who are not making enough money to fund these expensive projects it makes complete sense. It allows you to work with a team that all have the same goal; to get great pictures that "look" the part even though it cost nothing to put together so you can make thousands of dollars for one day of work. (Hey, it CAN happen) It is also acceptable when an experienced artist or photographer needs some "fresh" stuff for their book, for charity causes or if you are moving into a new genre; say from fashion into swimsuit, but there has to be value to all involved. What is sad and quite ridiculous is that there are WAY too many talented people who are seasoned in this industry who get stuck in this vortex of "working" for FREE. Just because we are "freelance" artists, models and photographers, does NOT mean we are worthless and must work for free. It all boils down to the fact that we get in life what we accept and starving artists tend to accept too much of this. Who in the world works for free? You don't see McDonald's employees working for free until they can prove that they know how to flip a burger or take an order or salt french fries. I just don't understand how COMMERCIAL clients who are obviously making money... in this case,an exotic car dealership, can continue to take advantage of people. Come do this shoot for free so I can use the pictures to make $300,000 selling one car. BLEAGH!

I used to be one of these "starving" underpaid artists, but it came to a point where I decided that I had proven myself, built a book and had a reputation for excellence in all aspects and for the past several years I give people my rates and ask if they are working on a budget the moment someone contacts me. I will work with budgets, not a problem, but unless you are going to add something to my book that is extremely unique or if you have the potential of becoming a frequent ongoing paying client that wants to "test" with me, I no longer work for free. If you cannot afford me then I will help you find someone that needs to build a book. Bottom line, I have a family to clothe and feed and I won't hustle anymore with hopes that I will be worthy enough to gain a dollar later on.

I know that there are some of you who are stuck here... in this pool of unappreciative, blood sucking "clients" that act like you are privileged to be working with them. KNOW YOUR VALUE ; DON'T BE AFRAID of losing people like this. They may keep you busy and you may even get cool pictures, but if they can't appreciate your value then you don't need them in your life. Trust me, someone will come along and pay you more than you are worth, treat you like a rock star and it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

 I will end this with one one of my quotes 

"We get in life what we accept, 
 sometimes gaining respect means not being the yes guy."  
Shelley Giard 

Have a fabulous week!