That sketchy art instructor wants to take photos of me again (for…paintings he’s going to make. Yeah, that’s it, paintings…).
Last time I did a photoshoot with him, he paid me $120 for three hours – twice what he pays me to pose and be drawn/painted. Initially, that seemed fair to me; naked photos are a lot more, I dunno, unforgiving than naked drawings. I hate the idea that my sock lines and shaving bumps and zits and cellulite will be recorded with perfect accuracy for him to pore over later*. Plus of course the camera will steal part of my soul. So twice my normal rate seemed about adequate to compensate for that.
But here’s the thing: a typical art class that I pose for has some strenuous quick “gesture” poses at the beginning – maybe even half an hour of gesture poses – but then segues into longer, more sedentary poses for the rest of the three hours. A photoshoot is all gesture poses. I never got to just lie around and chill for 10-15-20 minutes. And, on the flip side, I’d often get into a super difficult position that I would normally only trust myself to hold for two minutes, max, only to have it last for five because the instructor really liked it and wanted shots from every angle. My entire body was sore for days after. $120 did not feel like enough to make up for the pain and my discomfort with cameras. Plus that particular instructor, as I’ve mentioned before, makes me slightly uncomfortable.
I posed for a drawing class of his today, and afterward when he asked if I might be up for more photos, I said yes but explained that I would need more cash to make it worth my while. He asked me how much I’d want. I blurted out $180. He said he’d think about it, but really the standard rate for nude photography modelling is $40/hr. I think he may have been bullshitting me. I’m not so sure there is a “standard rate” for nude photography, or if there is, maybe people differentiate between sexy naked and art naked. I’m certain I’ve seen people offer $100/hr for sexy-naked photography, and I’m talking about (allegedly) classy photos, not porn.
The instructor and I got to talking about other things for a few minutes, just kinda wrapping up the day’s business and filling out timesheets and stuff, and when I got up to leave I urged him to think some more about the $180. And suddenly he was saying that “money is not an issue” for him and he would be in touch in a couple of months to arrange a shoot. Ha! And I didn’t even have to play hardball.
The thing is, I know I’m good at what I do, and I know I’m not easily replaceable. Employers aren’t necessarily out to screw me over financially, but they’re probably not going to volunteer to pay me more than the going rate, either, if they think they can get away with it. I’ll have to be brave and start asking for proper pay – at least sometimes (there are places I work where I do not think I could get away with that, and I can’t afford to pull some big power play of threatening never to return, so yeah).
When I got home from work, still feeling triumphant and badass for asserting my needs like that, I suddenly realized that the amount of money I’d asked for works out to $60/hr (my brain had been strictly viewing it as a lump sum up to that point). Totally not unheard of in the modelling world, but exponentially more money than I have ever made at any job in my life. It’s not a total game changer, since dude probably won’t be doing photoshoots with me more than once or twice a year (and who knows, maybe he’ll end up flaking) but still. Holy shit. I was granted a $20/hr raise with practically no argument at all.
In other news, I posed for a new place last night and it went well. Organizer dude told me he wanted gesture poses with lots of action, and I was like “Action is what I do” and proceeded to fuckin’ own that dais. On the first break the organizer came up to me with that dazed-and-bedazzled look I’m increasingly accustomed to seeing and told me I was great. Also, a few audience members came up to me over the course of the night to tell me I was great. And the gig was only two hours, but paid what I normally get for three. W00t!
*He did, however, promise me that he wouldn’t show the photos to anyone else or put them on the internet. He says he’ll be using them as the basis for some paintings, and maybe his wife will see them when she passes through the room while he’s working, but that’s it. I tend to believe him on this. He’s an established artist and instructor with a reputation he wouldn’t want to fuck up.