Posts Tagged ‘Seth Wilder’

The power of working for “FREE”

Kyara Tyler with body paint on custom damask packdrop painted with Krink by Meex1 (seth Wilder). Full page ad for Chefrubber.com in So God Magazine

Kyara Tyler

When I shot this photo. I was working for free. Seth painted the wall for free. I paid for the supplies and installed the wall, for free. Seth used his own paint. Seth painted the wall on a separate occasion from the shoot.  I shot and edited the video for free. Kyara was paid, but if this were a circus she would have been paid in peanuts.

From that free shoot we licensed this image to chefrubber.com who ran it as a full page ad in So Good Magazine. We split the money and got a nice tear sheet out of it. Seth sold a print at an art show. A plastic surgeon contacted me for an assignment after seeing the video of the shoot. His website and office will be decorated with images shot by me. My lab will make hundreds off my prints. A fine art framer in Australia will make thousands when they frame the prints. All in all I can directly correlate about $50,000 in income as a result of that one FREE shoot. Don’t get me wrong, not every test and for-fun shoot results in income.  If there isn’t value in working for free I wouldn’t do it.

More than any other industry I can think of the the creative industry is built on the backs of free labor. It goes by numerous names:  tests, trade, TFP, TFCD, intern, spec, portfolio, for credit, for my reel…We all do it. As long as I find benefit in working for free I will continue to do so. As I mentioned, I’m getting paid, it’s just not always in the form of dollars.

If you haven’t already read Malcom Gladwell’s book The Outliers he introduces the concept that excellence comes from practice, lots and lots of practice. He refers to it as the 10,000 hour rule; excellence comes after practicing/doing for 10, 000 hours. As a freelance creative how am I supposed to reach 10, 000 hours unless I create my own assignments? How does a photographer, filmmaker or graphic artist practice? By working for free.

I first learned the value of working for free when I interned during college. I interned for Merrill Lynch and learned first and foremost that I DID NOT want to be a stock broker financial adviser.  The next lesson I learned was that interning is about building relationships, not “learning”. I didn’t gain knowledge at Merrill; I made contacts. Those contacts and relationships led to me getting a job and building a successful career as an analyst.

When I was first started to shoot I needed subjects. I started with my friends, then I moved on to testing with models, makeup artists and stylists. We would work for trade; I’d shoot images for our respective portfolios and in turn they would model, style, do hair, or makeup for me. It’s a win win. I get to practice my craft, experiment, test new equipment all while building relationships and making new contacts. Am I working for free? Yes, but there is a huge intangible value I have gained by doing the work. First and foremost I got better at photography.  In a lot of cases the relationships I made led to paid job. I shoot for free only when I know there is some value in me doing the work. If you can’t see value in doing something similar, might I suggest a new pair of glasses?

 

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How it’s made

A few month’s ago Seth showed me the latest art he had been making.  Seth, who goes by the name MeexOne in the art and graffiti world, incorporated using the damask patterns he used in his art with a model in the photo below. I loved the image and immediately wanted to take it a step further and paint it on a larger scale.

©Seth Wilder - MeexOne

©Seth Wilder - MeexOne - the inspiration for our shoot

I began looking for a model and got lucky with Kyara Tyler. I say lucky because she’s had a lot of experience modeling body paint and that ended up helping quite a bit in during the shoot. Although I’ve seen a lot of body paint images I’d never seen the process or knew how well the idea would translate. Seth painted the backdrop a few weeks ago and used a graffiti marker called Krink which took about ten days to full dry.

MeexOne - backdrop painting

MeexOne - backdrop painting

MeexOne

MeexOne

Early this week we finally were all available on the same day. Once Kyara was in the studio, we experimented with lighting before Seth began the process of painting her. Unlike the wall he used a latex based paint that was safe for her skin.  After I found a lighting setup I liked it took Seth about 90 minutes to paint her. The actual shoot took about 15.

Seth paiting Kyara

Seth paiting Kyara

Kyara Tyler

Kyara Tyler

I wanted to document the process. The following was filmed using a 7D and an old Canon G9 point and shoot which I used to film a time-lapse of painting the backdrop and then again on the day of the shoot. The following video shows the process and what was involved in making it work.

To see more stills from the shoot check out this gallery.
To see more of Seth’s work check out his site and this recent article.

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