I know I mentioned sometime before that I am not going to rant in this blog. However, it just tortures me to see ads that aim to book services of photographers, videographers, hair/makeup artists, stylists, etc in exchange for



Let me tell you something about this payment in “exposure” thing.

If the company or organization, referred to as “entity/ies” hereafter, cannot afford to pay for the services of creative talent, then they probably do not have what it takes to make themselves known or have their content visible to people who matter or people who you want to see your work. That being the case, the only “exposure” you’re going to get would be “exposure” to those who probably do not give a damn about your stuff. Face it. What kind of content do these entities shoot for if they do not pay for creative services?

“Oh we have the resources to publish 20,000 copies. We have the connections with major industry players. Unfortunately we do not have money to pay people who do work for us”


Q1. Where will those 20,000 copies end up in?

Q2. What role do these so-called connections play in this endeavor

Q3. What kind of people would do this kind of work for free

A1. They will end up on the magazine rack by the entrance to the dirty stinkin’ bathroom of a lowly hole-in-the-wall bar somewhere. Why? Read on.

A2. Like this entity, these so-called “connections” are probably not legitimate or not high enough up there. Why? Because if these are legitimate connections, then they would have their own people who they would recommend for this gig. Ad agencies, producers, publishing houses, et al will all have their own people who they will want on this project because they will not support a pursuit that enlists services from unproven individuals.

Think. You hold a prominent position at Elias-Clarke (yes, I took that from the movie The Devil Wears Prada) and one of your high school buddies decided to start a magazine and asked if you can support his new project. What would you have your buddy do about getting content for their magazine? Do you see yourself telling him, “go forth on classifieds and put a team together for your feature story.”

No, I don’t think so. You’ll probably make calls to your other buddies from different artist management groups and modeling agencies and ask them if they have photographers, stylists, hair/makeup, and models who would want to get together for this. They key players in the industry do not rely on people from classifieds to get the job done.

A3. Here’s another thought experiment. Suppose that I am Mario Testino’s first assistant (grin grin). I want to get out of Testino’s shadow and start doing my own thing so I can be known as me instead of “Testino’s assistant.” Will I go look for openings in classifieds for that?

No, I didn’t think so. Why? What sounds better experience-wise:

1. “I set up the lighting used for Testino’s shoot with Vogue Espana”


2. “I photographed the feature story for the Essex Living”

Umm…where is Essex?

My point is that we all want to be high-profile photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion stylists, models, etc and we are all looking for our big break. Also, there are plenty of people out there who want to start their own magazine or their own apparel line who are in need of people like us. I’m not completely against doing things fee-waived. I have done them before and I can tell you that I will not be stopping anytime soon. I’m just against those who hold their heads up high and act like self-righteous pricks by selling the promise of “exposure.”

If you’re going to be involved with such things, make sure they know that you are not working for them. Make sure you are in control and do not let them push you around because these entities  who cannot offer payment but BS their way by selling the promise of “exposure” are extremely likely to go continue on with paying you nothing but that. It’s a perception thing. It’s this mindset that they are better than us. How so? People do not sell opportunity to people they have high respect for. Me telling another person, “come work for us for free because you are going to get good exposure” implies that I have higher regard for myself than the person I am enlisting. Would you want to work for such people?

If you are going to get involved in such things, make sure that whatever it is you’re going to be doing is valuable IN ITSELF regardless of the existence of the company/organization. In addition to the promise of exposure, these people say that the project will be good for your portfolio. Who are they to know what will be good for your portfolio. You and you alone know what your portfolio should look like. Yet again, it’s that self-righteous thinking that preludes uttering the sentence, “It’s going to be good for your portfolio.”

Keep the dream alive but value yourself.


About Carlo

I like film photography, K-pop, and yogurt soju.

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