“The Best of the Best… Only Sell A Print or Two In A Month…”

Since freelance modeling has no set workplace rules, like working at Target or whatever, there’s always circular/annoying/pointless debate on forums and social media about how this stuff should work.

My friend Sierra runs a tumblr freelancemodels, and an Anonymous posted:

While I agree that professionals should get paid for their time. I think there’s an overestimation just how much money most photographer’s can make from a shoot. Even the best of the best in this “industry” only sell a print or two a month. The vast majority can barely give a print away, even if their work is strong. Commercial rights can only be sold if a model signs a release, but who are they going to sell the images to? There’s not many people/companies buying these days.

And Sierra responds here.  I added:

Reblogging just to add commentary- the line “best of the best… only sell a print or two a month” is so outlandishly ridiculous, as no one is really aware of anyone else’s finances, but consider these factors:

1. intelligent people who

2. are willing to market themselves a lot and in the correct manner

3. through various channels, both online and in the real world

4. and most of all have perseverance

5. and can build a fan base

6. have a market and can make money off their images.

Maybe it’s a print, maybe it’s a contest or paid publication, , maybe it’s just advertising… probably 75% of my tumblr followers have followed me due to the times I shot with Mosh.

If you put no thought to the end usage of the photos, or how to make the shoot pay for itself, and then cry that these things are too expensive, it’s not the model’s fault.

Other types of photographers spend thousands of dollars traveling to exotic landscapes, or setting up intricate food shots, or paying entry fees to zoos and so forth.  Or they spend $0 shooting instagram selfies.  Being interesting and putting interesting things in front of the lens costs money.

If your photos are unique and appealing to a model, they may work within a budget or do trade or cut a deal, especially if you have other things to barter, like tearsheets or lodging or plane tickets.  If you are mediocre or don’t have anything they want or need then of course it’s for money, and that should be perfectly fine.

I admit prints (or any paper goods) aren’t worth what they used to be in a pre-ipad world, but this is where you have to think harder.  Make unique things that are collectible, cannot be replicated as an experience.  I was amazed to find people wanting my Instax, which I considered castoffs.  Now I shoot instax alongside the “main” stuff and those have been getting snapped up pretty quick„, the last guy who bought from me was a screenwriter and used them for inspiration.

There are unique printing methods that make photos cooler than just plain inkjet shit.  Mettalic ink, shrinky dink, on tile or wood, as viewmaster, with a light in the back, on fine art rag paper, as alternative process images.

If Anon is so familiar with the “best of the best” then he/ she may know that they also diversify their income by repping for companies, doing speaking engagements, lessons/ workshops, retouching the work of others, whatever it takes.  It’s creative hustling with as much imagination put into the business side as the image making side.


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I'm a multimedia artist in Phoenix, AZ. Main Site - http://www.primordialcreative.com Instagram @primordialcreative + twitter @dbmillerphoto

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