I was left stranded, exhausted, without food, completely without payment and alone with several pieces of extremely heavy luggage after travelling 200 miles for a photo shoot from Leeds to London.
This resulted in severe physical illness, and ultimately, my admission here to A&E.
This single photo shoot has unfortunately ruined me both financially and physically.
My actual expenses have ended up in the thousands.
Since I’ve been unable to reach a satisfactory solution with the photographer so far, yet without any payment cannot afford to get home from hospital or buy food/medication etc, friends have suggested I start this fundraiser.
Asking others for help is *so* absolutely not within my character!! But I cannot see any other way out of this situation at present. Therefore I’ve set the fundraiser at £60.00, which is the minimum amount of three hours worked unpaid.
I’ve started this fundraiser, completely against my own personal beliefs, upon insistence by close friends who have seen how devastated the above-mentioned shoot has left me.
Setting this up has been profoundly difficult. Not least cos of how sick I am (I keep passing out in the middle of typing) and trying to string together coherent sentences when pumped full of painkillers! But more that – I guess – I am too proud. I’m naturally an extremely hard-worker and run two businesses – translation and modelling – single-handedly. I regularly work to back-breaking levels at both of these, and I always give my absolute all to my modelling shoots.
For this particular shoot, I got up at 4am at the end of a heavy working week in my day job, travelled hundreds of miles on two different trains carrying several items of very heavy luggage, and was already wearing latex to save time. I had with me an enormous case and hiking backpack full of boots, several valuable latex outfits and a number of heavy prop items paid for out of my own pocket, e.g. an old school retro style dial telephone. I love the creativity that shooting with a simple prop can achieve – a decent prop can make or break a photo in an instant. I’d not had any response from the photographer as to what to bring to the shoot so the problems began here really.
As mentioned, writing this post is extremely difficult for me.
I’d rather die than ask for anything from anyone.
Or at least I thought I would. Now I very nearly just did, I’ve decided enough is enough.
There were several problems at the shoot. Both myself and the photographer agreed these were not the direct fault of either party (e.g. train delays, latex shiner and outfit issues in the studio.)
We over-ran the three hours booked shooting time by one hour, which made the total number of hours that I worked four – excluding travel/preparation/packing/unpacking and repacking large cases.
After the shoot mishaps and the three hours were up, I gave the photographer plenty of chances to finish and said we did not need to carry on into a fourth hour. He assured me a fourth hour was ok. I was grateful at this point as I’d travelled a long way, and told him I was more than happy to work the fourth extra hour for free, so we could hopefully make the best of a bad situation.
Within the last hour, however, the photographer became increasingly anxious acting rushed and taking a number of calls on his phone, and as a result of this didn’t give me nearly enough time to pack up my things, which has resulted in a loss of some expensive items like earrings and damage to some of my latex 🙁
When he disappeared and left me on the streets of London with so much heavy stuff and without paying me a thing, I assumed, since I had worked with him previously and had thought he was a nice person, that due to the calls and the rush he had put me in, he must have had some kind of really important private emergency and would pay shortly after.
I didn’t want to pry into his affairs so I struggled back to the hotel alone in the dark absolutely reeling from the stress and exertion of the day. I’d been under all of that physical stress, up since 4 in the morning and it was now nearly seven in the evening. I’d still not eaten and barely even had time to drink a single thing. I felt so ill I nearly fainted there and then on the streets, but I took my time and after much struggling and with the help of kind passers-by, I made it to my hotel room.
I was obviously gutted by the whole experience to say the least, and spent the rest of the evening and much of the night too upset to get any proper sleep and being consoled by friends via messages/calls. I wondered why the photographer had already been in touch to send a link to the photos and ask if I was ok, but still hadn’t mentioned any payment. He had paid at our first shoot and we had discussed the costs that this one would involve for me.
After asking him if everything was ok the following day, I was amazed to learn that he hadn’t actually had any kind of emergency, only that he needed to get home because it wasn’t “fair on his wife being out late”.
Not only that, but that he was unwilling to pay me anything at all for a bare minimum of the three hours originally agreed upon, which amount to 60 pounds.
This is all I ever actually asked for, even though we had previously also discussed travel expenses – since I began to – obviously – get a very bad feeling about him having put me under all that unnecessary time stress and pressure.
My travel from Leeds to London cost me 180 pounds and at this stage, I was so beside myself I was willing to let what seemed to be misunderstandings on both sides go and didn’t ask for any payment for that. Never mind the addition of hotel, food, taxis etc. We had discussed my booking a hotel room prior to the shoot so that I would have a place to stay over night, and as a way of me saying thank you to him for covering the studio costs, and to take extra shots of some of my sponsored latex items. However, we didn’t do any of this as he left in a rush without explanation.
The person in question is a popular fetish photographer in London and we had shot together before. We had so much fun at our first shoot in July last year that it seemed neither of us could wait to work with the other again. At that first shoot, he paid for four hours of shooting time, though the shoot went on much longer. We got on so well I was happy to extend the time without charging for the extra hours and the images I got back were fantastic.
I could never have expected his sudden change in character.
Even when told I had fainted and was having to live from mini pots of milk and sugar sachets in a cheap hotel, and handouts from kind strangers on the streets in London, and even now upon learning of my admission to hospital and grave condition, it appears this photographer would rather disappear off on holiday to Australia and spend all of his time posting about comparatively trivial messages on Facebook than properly respond to my messages or send me a single penny.
All of this obviously upset me/added to my stress so much further, not helped by the fact I was completely alone in London where I barely know a soul.
As far as I understand it from his occasional messages, to this day we still have not argued and I can see myself that we got a number of very good photos regardless of unfavourable circumstances. Even if he is somehow holding back his real opinion and there was something else that happened that upset him, to not pay the model coming from the other side of the country a single penny – even in ordinary circumstances – just isn’t acceptable.
I’ve asked for the absolute bare minimum from him – three hours of work, and even offered to cover travel myself. Although in normal circumstances, the amount he would owe me/any established model would be £240.00 minimum- three hours of work at £20/p.h. and £180.00 travel costs.
Even in my very early days of modelling when I would work on a free basis in exchange for photos, I’d always receive some kind of travel contribution from the photographer. I know one kind and absolutely lovely photographer who even basically bankrupt himself paying for models outfits and paying them travel money – he knows who he is.
My actual expenses from this catastrophe in London now run easily into the thousands. I’m so sick from exhaustion and in so much pain from being left alone to carry over 40kg of heavy luggage all over London for days with an existing medical condition that I’m still not able to work at present, over one week after the shoot took place.
Since I am self-employed in my main day job, I don’t get sick pay at all. Since I was alone, exhausted and sick, and I’m not familiar with London at all, I missed my pre-booked train back to Leeds meaning I had to spend yet more money I didn’t actually have – over 100 pounds – on a different train home as my ticket was non-refundable. I also had to spend seemingly endless amounts on food and taxis I couldn’t afford (London isn’t cheap!)
I’ve never and am still not asking for payment for any of these additional expenses. I’ve been admitted to hospital with stress and exhaustion, and am much too poorly and still too upset to start some kind of argument, which is why I have not named him.
I completely accept responsibility for any mistakes I’ve made, and I’ve therefore only set this fundraiser to the original £60.00, which is all I ever asked from the photographer in the first place and which, if he had only paid, could probably have avoided this whole situation.
It seems from this whole experience and a couple of unfortunate much more minor ones of late that – for whatever reason – modelling in general just doesn’t agree with me.
No job is worth quite literally dying for, and an unpaid one at that!
I’ll very likely be selling every single piece of latex and other shoot items I own to recover financially from this. Listings and prices to come when I am less sick.
I can only keep positive and say I’m really lucky to have come away from this horrible experience with my life. I’d be happy at present just to be able to afford a taxi home and some basic things like food, painkiller prescriptions etc so that I can hopefully start to get better.
Thank you for reading all of this 🙁