In a recent conversation with another creative, I was asked questions about creating a proposal and contracts. Happy to help, I gave a breakdown of how I submit proposals and contracts and what I think are essential components to the scope of work I am asked to do as well as what I am capable of delivering in a manner that values me and my time, as well as the physical and mental commitment of the opportunity. You see, when I take a project, it HAS to align with my core values. My first and foremost consideration is always the sacrifice on my family. Shooting an event doesn't end when you are done that day, in fact, it can continue for a few days (or longer) post event while you are editing and getting galleries ready for clients. It always, ALWAYS, takes more time than your on site work. So I build accordingly because I need to know that what I am being paid aligns with being valued for my work ethic and dedication instead of feeling like I need more because I undervalued myself to begin with.
This creative's proposal was accepted and they were paid a full, more than competitive day rate with travel and expenses covered. However, the client ended up verifying with the creative whether or not they were planning on exclusively shooting for them or would be off doing work for other companies. Apparently they've had this happen in the past. (Permission was granted to use this example by both the client and the creative). This particular client found out their contractor had worked for others while working for them and they were, rightfully so, not happy. They found out after the fact so they take proactive measures to ensure it's not an issue moving forward. As a creative, this is unacceptable. Working for a client should automatically be exclusive. If you value yourself to begin with the right clients are there. At some point I'll blog about clients that are okay with other work and their contribution to devaluing creatives by low wages, but that's for another day.
As someone who has contracted for both an event host and for a company, I honestly was shocked that someone would work for others. My first and ONLY priority is with the client that contracts me. I stand firm in the belief that you cannot work for two people at the same time. In fact, in many industries this is called double billing and it's illegal. Not only that, if a proposal included travel and expenses, you are now using that clients payment to work for others most often at a discounted rate. Frankly, that level of dishonesty is abhorrent to me.
In further discussions with this creative, this is apparently the norm with some creatives citing the fact that brands aren't loyal to them so why should they be loyal or that they aren't earning enough money so they need other jobs in addition to the main one. Sadly this is happening quite often in this particular space because creatives want to be at an event so desperately they devalue themselves to get there, and in turn, devalue the industry as a whole. If you are paid by a company that values you and your time competitively, you don't need to take other work. While to a degree I admire the hustle in finding opportunities that fit your expectations of being valued, I don't admire being disloyal and sacrificing quantity and quality of work for a client so you can have more clients at the same event. It's disingenuous and downright dishonest. If you are granted access at an event under a certain parameter and you use that parameter to shoot for other clients, who were not granted that access, you are dishonest. To note, if I were to do that to the client I work for I would be fired. Most others who work for main stream brands and major clients would be too. You are cheating the system and you are taking advantage of a courtesy in a space with the kind of access, I assure you, is not given in other professional sports. It's worse when you are a creative who does it intentionally. Intentional dishonesty is a whole different level and one that doesn't belong in the space. Period. This example is, in fact, a reality. I wish it were not so, but apparently there are those who believe there "are ways around the rules and they (the event) will never know".
This was never the case before things changed with less restrictions. That was also a time when companies had higher value for creatives. Now they don't have to because many will shoot for a lower rate just to be there. I realize correlation does not imply causation, but it definitely makes one pause to consider if that is exactly what has happened. People stood for integrity, honesty and loyalty (even at times when they probably shouldn't have). I feel like a hamster in a wheel constantly asking creatives to think about being competitive and not devaluing the industry, but if the root is based on lack of integrity, no amount of discussion is going to change that.
There are A LOT of fantastic creatives in the space who conduct themselves professionally and with integrity. Sadly, those who have selfish motives and conduct themselves in a way that disrespects the clients they work for take away from those who do it the right way. The old saying "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch" is unfortunately becoming more apparent, as is evident with a client who has to ensure their contractor is only working for them.
Here's the simple fact. You either conduct yourself with the highest integrity or you don't. There is no grey area. Finding ways to work around terms that aren't specifically noted is dishonest. Using a client to work for others is dishonest.
You have to be better than that.
Image courtesy of Victoria Costello, @vistakesashot.