Ok fellow photographers and industry pros I’ve a question and I’m looking for your input.
I’ve noticed over the last few years a trend I do not like. I’m sure many of you may have noticed it as well. The trend I’ve noticed is the number of models who are “Brand Ambassadors” for clothing companies who get paid in swag. I’ve talked with a few of these models and hear the same from each. What I hear is that they feel that they are being more than fairly compensated for their time and effort by these companies. I beg to differ. I’ve mentioned that while the swag that they receive may have a high dollar “Retail” value on the web the garments usually cost way below that price. A t-shirt may sell for $50.00 or so and more but it’s actual cost might only be $1.75 or so from a supplier. If you add in screen printing (if there is any)the shirt might cost a total of $4.50. To say the least the mark up is huge and the amount the Social Media model makes is a paltry some. In other words the model may find themselves working for $4.50 for however long it takes to get the right shot. While I’ve pointed this out I’ve also been told that the model is happy to help out a Start Up . Sorry but some of these are not start ups, I usually take the time to google search these companies. Their sites are often well done and have pro shots, advertising and marketing posted that reveal actual advertising budgets. At the end of the day as photographers what are we getting out of this? Some models argue that they’ve a huge following. Yeah? Shit that’s even more reason for you to charge and for me to charge too.
The other argument I get is that these shots are just for Social Media, big whoop. Am I wrong in thinking that these models are screwing themselves and do not fully grasp that SOCIAL MEDIA IS ADVERTISING? Social Media is fucking huge! It’s why it’s still around! It’s why Facebook is what it is! This willingly innocent mindset is keeping them from earning what a model should and is in fact cheapening the entire industry? Yes, I can understand a that a start up needs to cut costs etc, but at what point does that excuse become “Hey our company knows kids are dumb”?
What are your thoughts?