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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Taking a Break From Freelancing


As a working model with agency representation, I've always freelanced on the side. But that was when I had a non-exclusive contract. Since signing with FORD Models in San Francisco last Fall, I've been dealing with an exclusive contract. I wanted to make sure I wasn't breaking any rules so I went through the pages of my contract and couldn't find anything that mentioned being allowed to find and book my own work.

 I'm sure it was in there somewhere but with over 6 pages of legal jargon, I'm sure I missed it. So I emailed my booking agent at FORD asking her for clarification. She was happy I asked because apparently many models aren't aware of the seriousness of the subject. She informed me that under an exclusive contract, all bookings must go through the agency. What does that mean for me? No more freelancing.

Surprisingly, I'm okay with that. I want to do right by my agency. While I've been able to get more work myself than through them, my agent made a great point. She stated that the majority (not all but most) of the clients who contact models directly instead of their agencies, do so in the hopes of avoiding agency fees, underpaying the models and retaining exclusive rights to the images for usage.

And she does have a very valid point...one that I've known for quite some time. For a while I was just eager to get work and figured if my agent wasn't getting me bookings regularly, then I'd get them myself. And some have been great experiences for me and others weren't.

After some thought, I've decided to stop freelancing my services for now. Sure, there are some great gigs that I come across once in a while but it would look much better on my resume if those clients showed their interest in me by contacting my agent instead of me. That would be much more impressive to FORD and show them that I am in demand.

Plus, if clients really are legit about the projects they are working on, they won't hesitate to pay a model her/his weight in gold. Many of the freelance gigs I've gotten dealt with start-up companies or individuals who had very limited budgets. As much as I like to gain the experience, I'd also like to gain the big paychecks I know I'm worth being paid.

I can only do TFP/TFCDs for so long to build up more images...and on top of that, a number of the photographers I've worked with have not held up their part of the deal in providing me with my images. Or some only offer to give me 3-5 prints/images from the entire shoot. They are well within their rights to do this, but I hate it. And I'm tired of being given empty promises.

All of these issues are commonplace when it comes to freelancing. Plus, because I do so many other things outside of modeling, scheduling a bunch of free shoots throughout the month wears on my gas, finances and time. Not to say that I won't make an exception for the occasional photographer--because I will--but I will no longer be accepting modeling gigs for free or for chump change.

On all of the online sites where I advertise my modeling services, I have changed my policy to state that all booking inquiries must be made through my agent. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And if they try to contact me regarding a booking, I'll automatically redirect them to my agent. My only exception to this whole thing is if the client is offering tearsheets, not just regular prints because there is a difference, remember? :)

I'm also in the middle of redoing my modeling website to reflect my more current work and to make it more appealing. I'm looking at some great Flash features that will add that special something so be on the lookout for that. It's gonna be great!

It's only fair to be paid what you're worth and even if taking a break from freelancing means not working as much while waiting on my agent to submit me for gigs, at least that will free up my schedule to focus on my other projects. And when a job does come in, it'll not only be worth my time, but it'll show my agent that I have a right to be on their model roster.

1 comment:

jugglervr said...

Hey there. I just found your blog. I'm a (semi-)photographer in Fremont

I just wanted to leave a little feedback on the topic of receiving limited numbers of prints from a TFP shoot... I understand why you hate it, and I sort of hate it too, as a photographer, because it leads to bad feelings.

However...

To paraphrase local commercial photographer Philip Kaake, every picture needs retouching.
In the old days, a photog only gave a couple prints because they would spend around an hour on each print, dodging, burning, spotting, toning, testing, etc. That hasn't really changed. I spend an average of 45 minutes on every image I retouch because the image isn't finished until that point (and that's with workflow-enhancing tools). I'd love to make models happy by turning over a disk of jpegs, but that would really be the equivalent of having well-shot negatives printed at walgreens. The prints would only be a little better than snapshots because they always tend to need work done before they can really be considered "finished".

The upshot is, if I were a model, I would far prefer 4 great, stunning shots over 150 mediocre ones. You're only going to use one anyway. ;)
(i also have my suspicions about photographers who are comfortable releasing unfinished work, but that's for another day)

At any rate, I hope you don't mind my rant, and if you'd like to talk shop again any time in the future, I welcome you to drop me a line.
Cheers,
Kevin
www.maskphoto.com