Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Turkeys

This is my favorite week of the year, when Thanksgiving, my birthday, and my wedding anniversary all occur in a week with good food and people just being together. Thinking of this holiday, I always see the steam that builds on the inside of windows and smell the aroma of the baking turkey. (And then there are the stuffing, the baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, arrays of side vegetables, pumpkin pie, pecan pie... )

Last night going to sleep I was thinking about turkeys, the number of them that will be cooked in the United States and beyond this week, the turkeys that have been created months ago for all the magazine stories, and the gorgeous ones presented on every culinary magazine cover. It was like counting sheep.

My favorite cover was the Gourmet cover two years ago of a cooked turkey in a roasting pan on a vintage kitchen stove. At the 2007 International Conference on Food Styling & Photography in Boston I had the opportunity to hear the Gourmet staffers who created that cover and it was such a thrill. The conference will be held again this June and I look forward to more inspiring presenters and to meeting many more of you who have been students of Food Styling 101.

I hope no matter where you are that you have a peaceful and happy week with plenty of good food.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Stylish Blog

I am kind of new to this blog obsession but have been subscribing to one I love to look at. It is the blog of Susan Connor AKA "Hey Suzy" who sells paper items on I don't know how she discovers and displays such beautiful things, so often! I discovered the blog through her article on PROP STYLING. I had wondered how the vendors of hand-made items on Etsy produce such great images.

Through some research, particularly through "Black Heart Bunny", a styling student of mine who does delightfully macabre silkscreens, I found out more about The Storque. The Storque is a resource for Etsy members and Suzy's article is a great little resource for stylists - and vendors of their own products - to gather ideas about props used for images.These are just the type of creative people for whom we offer Style It & Shoot It, our online course designed for non-professional photographers who want to photograph - and style - their own products.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Understanding Model Agency Rates

This week I recieved an inquiry from Natalie Fletcher, a former student in Producing Photo Shoots. PSW instructors love it when students keep coming back to ask pertinent questions - then we know they are continuing to develop their careers!

"I took your producing class last year; I really enjoyed the class. I am refreshing my estimating skills and have a question for you regarding modeling agency rates. For example, an agent mentions their rates for a 2 hour minimum ($150/hr.), one year print and web ($1,200), and a 20% agency fee. Is the model making the $300 and the $1,200 or just the $300? If so, the only profit the agency is making is the 20% from the usage?

"I also have seen an agency mention a 20% agency fee with the 2 hr. minimum in addition to a 20% agency fee with the usage. Is that common or more rare?"

Here is my answer to Natalie: Generally agencies charge 20% to their clients for any booking they do, including the hourly rate and additional usage fees. This is paid in addition to the model's fees. This is the income for the agency, for overhead, expenses, and profit. It is also a motivation for the agent to negotiate a good rate for the talent, as their percentage increases, especially when the talent does a commercial or ad with long usage and more residuals. The talent benefits obviously when this is well-negotiated, plus they don't have to deal with the negotiations. The client prefers when they can negotiate a smaller fee of course, but they also want to be fair.

When the talent is less experienced and recognizable it is possible to agree to a lower rate but sometimes the successful face is what is best for the campaign. And therefore, worth it.

In addition, the agency takes a 20% fee from the talent's rate. So you can calculate that the model will be recieving $240 of the $300 and $960 of the $1,200. The agency recieves in total 40% of the amount that is agreed for the model. Be sure that you or the client representative who will sign the model's voucher understands the conditions so they can be written into the form. Sometimes the talent are not aware of these conditions but the producer is. This serves as a legal agreement between the client and agency. Be sure a copy is provided to the client or photographer.