Your Biggest Asset [Follow up]
I review my last post with feedback from a model.
Your Biggest Asset Is Not Your Vagina.
I believe the pricing structure of - “the less clothing and more erotic my pose, the more my rate increases” - does more to demean women than it helps to value their bodies.
If you’re not familiar with my last post “Your Biggest Asset Is Not Your Vagina”, this post will review the feedback including an articulate reply I asked for by model, Kristy Jessica whom I can’t thank enough. Kristy is successful, extremely dedicated and hard working with many years of experience. She poses erotically and started her career with those limits. She was just the person I wanted to hear from.
My initial thoughts were that maybe I didn’t clarify my essence of the the topic clearly enough. I thought this because the replies ranged from why society needs to change to my writing promoted shame toward erotic posing and the vagina. All were fair points to raise and that’s what those people took away from the piece. That was the overtone for them. That has made me think. Did I not explain myself well enough or did that piece actually interpret that way?
To summarize what I meant, I offer this:
Setting modeling rates based on how erotic your limits are promotes physical attributes over skill, experience and knowledge. It promotes if you are a new model and get nude, you are worth as much as a model as experienced as you. I don't believe that is true. I think that devalues your experience and puts the onus on your choice to pose erotic. Thus putting the focus on your body (objectification) rather than your posing skill, experience and professionalism.
The title “Your biggest asset is not your vagina” was meant partly as click-bait but I also believe that. I think your biggest asset is based on your experience, skills, knowledge and effort.
What started this train of thought was seeing newer or less experienced models charging the same as experienced professionals because they will pose nude.
Now, the following points were made by Kristy Jessica and they really helped me understand some of the complexities behind the pricing and it’s not as simple as I thought.
Kristy explains how the “archetype character of a photographer who asks to shoot explicit is often someone who may be going through a divorce, hiding secrets from their wife or family, going through a mid life crisis, and I’m going to have to play therapist or deflect their awkward conversation throughout the shoot. Or they’re possibly insecure and curious at the same time, they may be dying for some kind of intimacy and this is the best way they can come up with to be intimate, OR they may be pompous douchebags that are going to try to push limits, talk down to you, or use your images to pressure other models to do the same.”
I had not considered this aspect to this degree before. It’s honest and with Kristy’s years of experience, I hope it’s eye opening to understand the hidden complexities of her job. What surprised me is the placement of ‘personal therapist’ and inter-personal requirements at the top of the list. I have heard from models before that some photographers enjoy their time with the model more than the actual photo session or resulting work. I understand how enjoyable it is to spend some time with a beautiful woman who shares your interest in photography and who’s willing to indulge in creating images together. So it makes sense models play ‘bartender’ and therapist. To be fair, I see how that must play into the price.
Kristy goes on to state “due to the overwhelming pressure of shame around our pussies, most experienced fine art models are afraid of being perceived as “dirty” “less than” or “desperate” “slutty” because so many pieces of media (including your article, btw) frame depictions of sexuality to be demeaning and of less value. It’s possible to convince a newbie model to pose erotic, but often times once others in her life have shamed her for it (jealous boyfriend, mean girl friends, “purist artists” etc) she may ask the photographer to take the content down or delete it from their hard drive all together. An experienced nude model who is guaranteed not to ask the photographer to delete or take down erotic images is more rare, therefore more costly.”
That bracketed “(including your article, btw)” stumped me. Did I really sound like that? Do I really frame depictions of sexuality as demeaning and of less value? I try to avoid poses that could have sexual overtones unless I’m deliberately using that for the image. But do I think images depicting sexuality demeaning or of lesser value? I have my unconscious biases too. I think women feeling shame around showing their vaginas, labia, etc. is horrible. I’m not even going to attempt to say I understand how that must feel and as a man, I can’t really know.
Do I think depictions of sexuality are of less value? I suppose it depends on what you compare it with but maybe I do. Maybe I do think that erotic material is ‘cheaper’, maybe I am being a “purist artist”. Damn, I don’t want to be that judgmental. I know why I would feel that way given my upbringing and life to date but I know how open-minded I am. I’m glad to have this part of me reflected back by Kristy. This is something I definitely want to work on. Because I may not think that way but it seems I feel that way.
Kirsty continues prices can change if the shoot is going on a pay site. “If I’m posing explicit and the photographer is going to make a profit, and I’m not also going to have rights to sell the images, I’m going to ask for a higher hourly rate.” Kristy summarizes by noting that situation specifics determine whether nude models should get more but essentially it boils down to supply and demand.
I would like to clarify that the post was not meant to question limits of erotic posing or to limit posing to only artistic approaches. It wasn’t meant to promote shame or to downplay erotic material in any way. I need to review my own biases here obviously as I mention, but that really never was the intention.
All I really wanted to propose was the charging rates were based on skill, knowledge, effort and time not body exposure. However, Kristy’s points do offer valuable insight on why it’s not that simple.
Thanks for reading this update, I appreciate it.
Find Kristy Jessica here: