Through History Artists of all types have been visionaries.
Individuals, groups, movements that have thrown a monkey wrench into a system, a world, a culture, a way of doing things the rest of society takes for granted, or in content just dealing with. Painters, poets, writers, dancers, singers..... photographers and models?
Artists, by nature usually see the world from a different perspective. Remember that scene in Dead poet society where Robin Williams stands up on the desk to teach his students about seeing things from a different perspective? Most artists spend their lives standing on that desk. And most artists will spend their lives seen as fools even by those closest to them. It's a lonely path. But through History artists have been leaders in cultural shifts.
Totalitarian Regimes are aware of this. One of the first things they will do is establish censorship in an attempt to silence these revolutionary visionaries. Through History some Regimes went as far as deporting, imprisoning, torturing and killing artists. During world war 2 Poets from a German university were publicly hung on the school campus for saying Deportation of humans was wrong.
This brings us to our shoot this week end with Buf Morgane, our Go-to model and close friend. This series came from many conversations of shared experiences being completely abused by the corporate industry of Modeling and photography.
In the past few Months I have personally had several difficult situations. Part of my Character is wanting to please others. I like to think that is for the most part a great asset in really understanding what my clients want. The dark side of this characteristic is that saying "no" is difficult and usually devastating to me when I manage to spit it out.
Before the Cannes Film Festival I was approached by a "luxury agency" that found me through one of my hair stylists. They had an event lasting 10 days in Cannes on a beach during the festival... Exiting right?
Here's the thing the rate they quoted me was ridiculous... in fact it was lower than minimum wages. It was not going to cover my travel expenses. With much difficulty I came back to them and Spelled out how much it was going to coast me to come over daily. They also wanted me to sign over ALL rights to the images to them... Permanently, internationally. If you know anything about image rights... that is where we make our money.
When I told them they would have to review their offer they responded saying they could get photographers to come work for Free and that I should feel honored and privileged that they wanted me there at all and that should be enough.
It was a devastating experience. I felt like a failure even though the economic reality backed up my decision I felt so dirty. I felt like I failed. Then something Magic happened I got respect for saying no. I actually ended up Shooting what I wanted to shoot instead of shooting an event (really not my thing by the way!)
Another project I was working on was for a "christian" project. I was donating my time to make a Logo and video for a "good Cause". the problem here was... since they were not being billed they just kept being vague about their expectations and sending me home to "try something else". Of course in this Case the servitude was maintained because of my personal convictions that were being exploited... kinda like Europe in the Dark ages. When I finally started saying "no until you guys are able to decide on a story board, I am sorry I really don't have time to keep going out and re-shooting and re-editing a video hoping to come up with something you like".
SO this entry goes out to all the artists, specifically models, MUAs, stylists and photographers being enslaved. This goes out to anyone that has ever been told they are arrogant for daring to quote a price when asked to work. this goes out to everyone that has been hit with that line "can't pay you but it will be great exposure for you" and then watched the same people pull out Cases and cases of champagne. This goes out to all those who feel they have a crater in their chest. This goes out to those who have been told "you do what you love why would you expect to be payed for it??"
The Physical reality may not be so brutal as the slave trade of the 18th century, but the result is the SAME we live in an a world ruled by Images without us no commercials, no adds, no magazines, The industry has convinced us we are worthless but they need us... SO bad! and they need Photographers and models to continue thinking EVERYONE WORKS FOR FREE! But guess what It's Slavery! JUST SAY NO! YOU are worth more.
I would Love if you have stories of people you know have money demanding you work for free and attacking your being leave them in a comment, Call those people out. This is YOUR petition, This is YOUR revolution it Starts here.