Butterflies go Free (and apparently models, too)

This past weekend, two friends and I decided to go to the Butterflies go Free exhibit at the Insectarium last weekend, on one of Montreal’s first warm, sunny days. Apparently we weren’t the only ones looking to take advantage of the nice weather – an enormous line stretched from the ticket booth past granite benches and fountains almost all the way to the pathway leading from the front gate.

Earlier that week, I met a photographer in the old port for a photoshoot, and he expressed interest in doing another shoot sometime. When my two friends, who are also models as it so happens, expressed enthusiasm equal to mine about going to the exhibit, I thought, why not kill two birds with one stone? I invited the photographer to come along with us and take a few candids with a beautiful backdrop. This, apparently, was a big mistake.

We scheduled to meet him at the gardens at 2pm, but we were running about 15 minutes behind. “That’s alright,” he said via text, “I’m running on the same schedule.” This was not entirely true, we found out later when we arrived – around 2:15. We spent 3o minutes waiting in the enormous line, but by the time we got to the front, he still had not shown face. I bought a ticket for him and ended up leaving it at the entrance to the exhibit under his name. After another 15 or 20 minutes, he texts me that he is in the exhibit, having picked up the ticket I left for him. “Okay, we’ll come find you,” I responded.

We found him, looking like a lost child holding a piece of foreign equipment that he didn’t fully understand, and proceeded out of the greenhouse and towards the insectarium. “So what kind of pictures did you have in mind?” I asked him. He shrugged. “Well, feel free to just snap away or instruct us for poses and such,” I offered. He stared at me, a little open-mouthed. My friends looked at each other, then at me, and giggled. “I should have brought my own camera,” Betty murmured.

The rest of the visit proceeded in a similar fashion. The three of us looking around at the butterflies enjoying ourselves, but constantly glancing over our shoulders to see if our guest would ever actually start snapping his lens. I tried again, “You know, you can just start taking pictures whenever.” “It’s too crowded,” he said. “Well, just take lots, then you can keep the good ones and delete the bad ones.” “That’s too much work,” he said staunchly. After that effort, I didn’t say anything again.

Betty took a few photos with her iPhone (surprisingly good resolution!), and I took a video or two on my phone. The three of us were chatting after he left, “I’ve never met a photographer who didn’t take pictures!” Chelsea said incredulously. “Yeah, I don’t get it, I mean, his portfolio was really nice, but I don’t think he’s used to photographing models,” I said. “Regardless,” Chelsea replied, “he didn’t even take photos of the butterflies.

Modeling Mix up

So, here’s the reason I will only be operating on contract from now on.

Back in December, I responded to an ad on Craigslist – a local fashion designer looking for a model to show off his new line of fabrics. I went to meet him at his sponsor’s house, he was amicable, funny, and interesting. He wasn’t exactly straight-forward about the pictures we would take, and it took some finagling to get him to show me his previous work. In return for my time (2 or 3 hours he said), he would give me all of the photos we took at the shoot as well as a handful of photoshopped ones. Since I’m just getting started with modeling, I figured it would be nice to have a good set of pictures to add to my portfolio. So a week or so later, I showed up at 6pm to his sponsor’s house for the shoot, with all my makeup and a few pairs of shoes as requested. I was very surprised by the set up (or lack thereof). The set consisted of one light, a workman’s light at that, not even a photographer’s light. Somehow it took the designer about two or three hours to do my hair, makeup (mostly with the brushes and makeup I supplied), and retrieve his fabrics. From there, the photoshoot didn’t get much better. But I went with it, and gave it my best. To the designer’s credit, he (or rather his sponsor) fed me dinner (albeit around 9:30pm). I left the house around midnight, with the designer’s promise of photoshopped pictures to come.

He posted all of the photos from the shoot on Facebook overnight – which was fine with me, but he never sent me the jpegs.

“I posted them on facebook.” He responded when I asked for the pictures. Clearly he did not understand that a facebook photo is not the same quality as a jpeg saved from the original photo. But I was busy with a few other shoots and unconcerned. He’d get them to me eventually, I thought. After about a month of no contact, I facebook messaged him, asking when he’d get me the handful of photoshopped pictures he’d promised. He said he was very busy, but that he’d put a couple on his website. Again, he displayed a complete lack of understanding of the etiquette between photographers/designers and models. I did the shoot for free, and I expected to get good photos out of it. So finally, after a decent amount of nagging on my part, a month and a half later, he sends me a handful of “photoshopped” pictures. Now don’t get me wrong, they aren’t bad. I do love his designing – the fabrics and the one semi completed dress that he had me model were beautiful. But on photoshop he so distorted my image that I actually preferred the unshopped ones, and considered a few of the shopped ones completely unusable.

I was willing to put all of that aside and just take note not to work with this man again, but then I made a mistake.

I got carried away on Photoshop. Sometimes you just get going, having fun and liking your artwork, and it all just comes together into a piece you’d like to share with people. So, I edited one of the photos that was given me as payment for my modeling. I turned it into a piece of art that was practically unrecognizable from its original. Wanting to share this image with my friends, I posted it to facebook. Now, I have been receiving threats and hate msgs from the designer, who claims that I don’t have the right to “temper with his work.” Anyone have thoughts on this? For one, I never published the photo or tried to sell it, and anyway according to our spoken agreement, I was to be given the photos taken at the shoot in exchange for the entire night I spent modeling for free. Well, in case you’re interested I’ve added the offending picture below, as well as the original. The designer has now reported the photo to Facebook as a copyright infringement, removing it automatically. I’m starting to get tired of this whole situation. I could seek legal action if I really felt something might come of this, but I decided instead to seek the council of the designer’s sponsor. The sponsor pretty much whole-heartedly agreed with me and urged me to just let it blow over. I think that’s what I’ll do, it seems the wisest course of action. Unless of course these threatening facebook messages continue. Will keep you updated.