Friday, July 6, 2012

On compensation

Peripheralvision, South Bay Area, CA, 2012
Random rant! [Disclaimer, this rant has nothing to do with the photo I'm posting--working with Rafa was great. It's a new never-before-posted-by-me photo, too!]


If you are downgrading from your top-shelf penthouse, please do not contacting me telling me you really want to work with me but "can't afford" my rate. I understand if you can, but don't want, to pay model rates. Simple solution: don't hire professional models. It's not a dire need [and if it is, you can afford it]. I charge rates that I think are fair.

Any negotiating I agree to has nothing to do with fairness, but with being convinced that it'd be worthwhile, reasonable, or generous for other reasons, and being able to afford the negotiated rate at the time. There are photographers out there who are truly monetarily deficient--and many of them will still throw me what they CAN, rather than what they FEEL like. Honor system. Sometimes all a photographer can offer me is $50, a good conversation, some tea and a sandwich. And that's cool. Sometimes I am not in a financial or logistical position to accept low-ball offers like that, especially while traveling, but other times I am more than happy to be as accommodating as possible--and someone else's lack of funding is NEVER, EVER offensive to me [that would be greedy to the point of idiocy].

What IS offensive to me is when someone tells me online that he's really strapped for cash but really wants to work with me, and I believe him, so he haggles me way down--and then he shows up in some new-fangled Porsche and pulls out a twenty-thousand-dollar camera. There are people who save up for weeks and months to pay models their rates, and it's kind of a big "fuck you" to them as well as to myself when people who can easily afford model rates knock them down, essentially for fun, thanks to the anonymity of the Internet. Sure makes it difficult for me to trust others who may have legitimate limitations.

Personally, I think blowing your budget on gratuitous toys instead of practicing and improving in your craft using what you've got is silly in the first place. Good cameras and accessories have their purpose--to photographers who already know what they're trying to do with them--but a good camera won't make you a better photographer any more than a fancy trad rack will get you up El Capitan, nor any more than a good guitar will make you Jimi Hendrix. If you're going to spend money on your craft, spend it on things that make you better at it--and that'll be different for everyone.

For some that means classes or workshops, for some it means film, for some it means books, for some that means experienced models. And for some, it just means going outside and taking photos a lot, fuck taking classes and using models. And that's plenty respectable, I think.

I have worked for photographers who are full-time artists, and who work menial jobs, and they still find a way to compensate the models they hire [whether that's by reducing the number of shoots they can do, or asking for discounted rates] and I try to be flexible enough to work within anyone's budget--provided that they HAVE a budget ["Uh...come up here and I can probably throw a few bucks at you" is not a BUDGET]--as long as I can also make a living. Of course, that gives them more time to focus on their creativity. I myself have been stranded due to the lack of security my lifestyle brings and have dumpster-dived, slept outside, hitchhiked, and so on--at times out of necessity rather than choice. Of course, I embrace this and see my lifestyle itself as a choice--experience over stability.

But it's the kind of choice that doesn't make me particularly sympathetic to those who loiter around wanting to have their cake and eat it, too, when they could just go ahead and buy two cakes.

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