why i turned down a free trip to jamaica
in today’s digital age, social media influencers are continuously becoming synonymous with models. but our career paths look nothing like the traditional models that currently exist as well as the models that came before them. it’s no secret that social media influencers and bloggers wear infinite hats when it comes to our own brands. we are the stylists, models, creative directors, accountants, business managers, photographers…the list goes on and on. but what has me concerned is the value (or lack thereof) influencers are giving themselves and the work that they will do simply in exchange for social media promotion or even recognition.
while in los angeles last week, i received an email from an employee at a pr company who represents an adorable brand (that i genuinely love) offering me the opportunity to be a part of their spring lookbook shoot at a luxury hotel in jamaica for four days. i basically read that and gasped! i had a “you like me, you really like me!!” moment. the initial email was a little on the vague side with just an inquiry if i would even be available for the days they requested (only seven days in advance). i did have a few things already scheduled but it would have been easy to rearrange a them to attend. i responded that i could make myself available for the days and wanted to hear more about the details surrounding the trip.
in her response, the pr girl stated that the following would be required from me if i wanted to attend the all-expenses paid trip to jamaica in addition to being a model for two full shoot days for their lookbook:
2 instagram posts per day (8 total)
6-8 instagram stories per day (24-36 total)
a full recap blog post
and finally, 15 photos that were completely rights cleared for the companies to use
and the compensation?
as a photographer that last requirement really hurt to read. i know how much companies will pay for the digital rights to photos (think 4-digits per image and even more for the print rights) and to ask for 15 of them for free made me furious. for those who may not be as familiar with copyrights, when anyone signs away the rights to their photos, not only can you, the photographer (legally) no longer use them, the new owner can use them however and whenever they want…without consulting or even crediting you. the addition of this type of clause in many contracts has been a scary trend i’ve started to notice with brands. even for myself, sometimes, i’m afraid to “rock the boat” because i know that if it’s a great opportunity or campaign, someone else will gladly accept those terms. i keep reminding myself that i need to hold my ground and often push back regarding the copyrights and usage if i see it in a contract. i will do a more in-depth post on photo copyrights in the future but for now i will just leave it at that.
while i most likely would have instagrammed, storied, and done a blog post anyways (because jamaica, duh), on top of all of this individual content they wanted me to produce and post, i was to be an unpaid model in their campaign. even at the most entry level for professional models, a full day rate is around $750-$1000/day: and it’s almost comical that they asked me to do that for free. it would have been four days of nonstop work and that didn’t seem to be worth the few mentions on their instagram. it would have been an amazing experience but at what cost?
yes, it is so honoring to be thought of for free trips, free clothes and jewelry, free services, etc…but i don’t see my landlord accepting these commodities in exchange for my rent any time soon. so i had to politely pass on the opportunity and received a passive aggressive email in response. it was almost like she couldn’t believe i was saying no but i’m really happy i stood my ground. i refuse to do thousands and thousands of dollars of work for free.
remember, always know your worth.