Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When Working for "FREE" is Okay

So after my last post I decided more needs to be said on the subject of "FREE" work. From reading forums, listening to Newer Makeup Artists and just being around for a bit I've realized there are a lot of misconceptions about working for "FREE".

Okay, first off working for FREE is NEVER okay but there are times when you'll do a job and there will be no transaction of money between the parties involved but there will be OTHER benefits for doing the you're not ACTUALLY doing it for free. For beginning makeup artists this is sometimes a complicated thing to understand and grasp.

All the time I hear newer Makeup Artists complaining about the costs of lashes or other products for TF* based shoots (For those who don't know TFP or TFCD means Time For Prints/Time for CD). IF you are doing a shoot and using lashes and you're not willing to absorb the cost of lashes b/c you're not sure the pictures will be worth it then you are working for FREE. Never do a shoot if you don't think it will benefit your portfolio in some way for FREE.

I know when starting out you want to do as many shoots as possible and work w/ as many ppl as possible but be picky. If you are doing a shoot and you think you'll get good images for your portfolio out of it then you're not working for "FREE" you are getting something in return for your may not be money but in some ways really good images or tears (magazine spreads) can be MORE beneficial then money on the day of the shoot and lead to MORE paid work in the future.

Before accepting a shoot ask yourself - Will this photographer's work benefit my portfolio? Is the model involved going to benefit my portfolio? If it's a Fashion shoot is there a full team involved - aka a Stylist? Are we shooting a theme or concept that I need in my portfolio? What direction do I want my portfolio to go in? Remember to always try and test want to grow not plateau!

If the shoot doesn't fit into the criteria that you need at that time then pass it up! If the model is blonde and you have a book full of blondes it might not be beneficial for you at that time to do the shoot. If the photographer wants crazy avant garde makeup and you need clean looks pass on the shoot. It doesn't hurt you to NOT do a TF* hurts you and wastes your time to do a shoot that has NO benefit for you.

If you are like me and you want to focus on Fashion & Beauty work or have hopes of representation from an agency don't do TF* Glamour Shoots or Alternative Fashion Shoots. I mention these two specifically b/c in the beginning of a Makeup Artist's career these are shoots that are frequently offered to them. I would only do Glamour or Alternative Fashion work if it was paid b/c guess what - I CAN'T use it in my book so what benefit would it do me to do it for FREE.

I, personally never do shoots that are referred to as TF* shoots - I HATE the term...this is an internet term, it sounds amateurish and it's not used in the real world. If I do a "Free" shoot it's a Creative or it's for Submission to magazines (side note a lot of my Fav shoots in my book were done for "Free" for Submissions to mags). I work closely w/ the photographer and stylist to help develop the concept and theme of the shoot. This sometimes takes wks/mths of talking and planning...if I'm going to give my time away I want to make sure it is WORTH it! I walk into the shoot w/ my whole Makeup & Hair concept planned for the day. I've seen the model before the shoot...there are NO surprises. I will NOT accept last minute Creatives b/c the other Makeup Artist canceled. For me I need proper planning time and I want to be involved from the ground up. I take Creatives VERY seriously and do them w/ the intention that this will be something to add to my book and benefit me in some way. Lately, all of my Creatives have been a lot more Hair Heavy or Clean Beauty based...I knew I needed stronger Hair Stories in my book and some Cleaner Beauty images so unless the concept fit that criteria I said no thanks.

A tip I wish I would have learned sooner when doing creatives is start to think in terms of stories early on in your career. When I started I did shoots where the model wore different random outfits and I did different random makeup/hair looks and yes I got some nice pics out of it at the time but there was no cohesion to the didn't flow or tell a story or have a theme. When you start working on stories and not just one off looks you know you're working w/ a better team w/ a stronger concept of what's going on.

Another thing that unfortunately is becoming common in the industry at least in my city is photographers trying to pass off model tests as creatives. Be wary of these things. I personally DO NOT do unpaid model tests. If the photographer sounds kind of vague about the concept and it seems like it's going to be really simple - white background, start w/ clean makeup and build from there - doing 3 looks be careful unless you REALLY want to work w/ this photographer and you're using this as a chance to meet them and talk about another idea you have or something. I say this b/c I know for a fact that many agencies these days won't pay photographers for tests anymore b/c there are so many photographers begging for models (see how ppl giving away their stuff for free degrades the WHOLE industry). What the agencies will do is say do the test and we'll make sure the model buys images off of you. Get a Makeup Artist tell them it's a creative. So basically, you're giving your talents away for free while the photographer will sell his/her prints and make money. If you think you'll get some great images from it b/c the photographer is super good and you wouldn't normally get a chance to work w/ them then take the chance if you's just not something I would do at this point in my career.

So I hope that clears up some of the confusion about "FREE" work and FREE work for some of the newbies out there.

Also, just one last bit of advice but clean, beautiful beauty work will ALWAYS get you WAY more paid gigs and attention from agencies over Crazy, Feather, Rhinestone, Glitter Beauty shots. I know when starting out you want to do Big, Crazy, Creative Makeup and a lot of times New Photographers want Big, Crazy Makeup but it's actually really hard to do that and not make it look tacky or gaudy and it takes the right model and a really good photographer to make it work. Walk before you Run...Perfect that Clean Makeup's not as easy as you think ;) Ask any artist you admire or photographer you love and they will tell you nothing sells you better then a Beautiful, Clean Beauty shot.

This shot is actually one of my most popular shots w/ Makeup Artists...all my friends outside the biz say "It doesn't even look like she's wearing makeup why is this in your book?" lol...they just don't get it ;) Photographer: Manolo Ceron Model: Jae (Sutherland)

EDIT: Oh one more big thing I forgot to mention - Say NO to Kit Fees! This is a Film Term that somehow got brought into Fashion by Amateurs. A lot of times photographers might offer a "kit fee" b/c they know the shoot might not be beneficial to a makeup artist's portfolio. Guess what if it's not beneficial to your book when you're doing it for Free then making $25-50 for the day isn't going to suddenly make it worth your time. If you accept a Kit Fee of say $50/day and the pics are going to be useless to you then you are saying my rate is $50/day...I don't think any Professional Makeup Artist wants to work for $50/day now do they?


Unicorn said...

Thanks for this. It clears up some of the questions I had regarding this topic.

smilecusiluvu said...

thanks for the tip! I will def keep in mind! love reading your blog!

Rebekah said...

Great Blog! I just stumbled across it from my blog ( and am now a follower. Can't wait to follow your future posts. :)

FACE IT by Jay Anne Cosmetics said...

Thank you for the information! It is great to read your blog. I always appreciate advice, and I would love to read more about your thoughts on putting together a professional looking portfolio. How it should look like, where to get a good book (empty one)....

Can't wait to read more:)

Deborah Jones said...

You speak the truth Jessica and it took me a while to realise exactly what I needed to do. So I'm back to rebuilding my portfolio and I'm glad i did. knowing what will benefit you is always a good thing.