To Tag or Not To Tag

To Tag or Not To Tag

In our industry, being tagged in a great image you were a part of is wonderful.  Many of us have heard others say that it is your duty to tag everyone on the crew as a “professional courtesy”.  However, I urge everyone reading this to take a step back and see the bigger picture as our warm fuzzy feeling of being tagged in a fabulous image is not always the result of being tagged. As artists excitedly share our favorite images from a shoot, we can get so caught up in what we love that we forget life does not revolve around us and that not everyone will agree that the image is stellar.  This does not mean that we are dumb. It is normal to mainly only be aware and live in our own reality.  But for those that desire more success than their current status in the industry, we must acknowledge the fact that each person on the crew of a photo shoot has their own reality based on their own life and career experiences, their own career goals and their current industry status.  Therefore, the picture we may be so proud of could deliver less than desirable results for others.

The truth is, the images that artists post and feel are worthy of their portfolio can sometimes be worlds apart from the photographers, models, and other crews level of work.  This is especially true for artists working their first 5 – 10 years or so.  I teach my artists that their goal is to constantly be trying to secure work with others at their skill level and ideally focusing on getting work with crew’s that are above their level in order to grow.  And until we have resided at each level… we really don’t comprehend what the others consider a great image.  You may think you do, but really… you just don’t.

At some point in our career, artists will be tagged by a photographer in images that they feel are hideous or that do not show their talent and skills which can be detrimental to their growth and reputation. The bad or even hideous image that artists can be tagged in could be due to their own bad makeup or a bad hair, bad wardrobe, bad model, bad pose, bad expression, bad lighting, horrible retouching that’s either overdone or not done to the level it should be.  Any of these issues regardless of slightly bad or horribly disastrous, is shockingly obvious to those at skill and experience levels above the person posting the image, although unnoticeable by the poster…. There are MANY things that need to be on point in order to be worth posting and just because an artist is happy with the makeup, doesn’t mean their image is worthy of the rest of the crew being tagged.

Successful people know that everyone has an opinion and never in the history of the world has a group of people all agreed 100% with the same thing, thought, issue or idea.  It is silly to assume that our opinion on a good portfolio image will be in agreement or resonate with everyone else on the crew.  Here are just a few reasons why NOT to tag people in your images.

  • Agencies have been known to drop models that are shooting or testing on projects other than the direction their agent wants them to go.  For example, if the image you tagged a model in is edgy or editorial and their agency is more commercial, (or visa-versa) and the agent sees a pic you tagged her/him in, they may feel the model is trying to build an editorial book to leave their agency and get signed with another.  Even if they don’t drop the model from their roster, they may tell the model off or say nothing and simply stop sending him/her on gigs, castings or go-see’s costing her income or even her dream career altogether.
  • Many models will go on test shoots direct and not through their agency.  Sometimes because they owe favors to photographers or crew and occasionally because they are trying to build their book in a new direction to leave their current agency so they can appeal to other agencies.  Posting & tagging models in images can backfire on the models when their agents see they are shooting without their approval and they can get dropped.
  • Often models request to go to a shoot with certain photographers and the agency bookers refuse to allow it but the model goes anyway because she agreed to. The reason a booker says “No” to working with a photographer or crew member of your shoot can be complex and is often something that a makeup artist has zero knowledge of. But not following an agent’s instructions or demands is another reason a booker will stop giving the model work or drop them from representation from the agency altogether.
  • A small sampling of a very long list of just some of the possible reasons an agency booker will not want their models to shoot with someone on your crew is because someone has been blacklisted. For example, the agency booker may have had a falling out with the photographer over a TON of reasons. Such as but not limited to: Shitty images, not giving the agency the images from the shoot at all or because they took too long to get images in the past, flirting with models, crossing the line from flirting to perversion or touching the girls, sleeping with the models, convincing over age models to do nudity, shooting or attempting to shoot underage models in various state of nudity, the photographer also shoots nudes or risky type of work even though they might be shooting beauty or fashion with you, drinking or doing drugs on set, driving models to location in a way that made the models feel unsafe or other questionable ethics, morals or lack of professionalism. Ideally, you may not think you work with people like this. However, you will never know every detail of what has transpired with any crew member and their business dealings in the past. Sadly, the list of working photographers that have done any (or many) of these aforementioned things is much longer than the list of those that have not.
  • The wardrobe stylist may have pulled specific garments to shoot with unknown agreements to designers or stores.  Often some if not all of the garments didn’t fit the models, didn’t work with their coloring or didn’t go with the set design, weren’t right for the lighting or just didn’t work out for whatever reason.  The wardrobe stylist may utilize the pulled garments at a different shoot to appease the designers/boutiques.  An artist posting images that show a few of the garments not looking/fitting great or being showcased as they should, can cost the wardrobe stylist a major loss in the ability to pull from them again.
  • The makeup looks great, but the hairstyle shows a lack of skill or attention to detail.  Often a model has very hard to work with hair.  Regardless if it is thin, sparse, dirty, dark roots, split ends, etc.  Sometimes the best a hairstylist can do will never result in a useable image for them.  Many times better hair is possible with the model with bad hair, but under time restraints, or having to do many models, bad hair gets shot.  Many artists will post images of bad hair as they only care about their makeup.  Imagine if the hairstylist was being considered for a job and when the person hiring them viewed their social media, the bad hair pic shows up first or even among other great hair pics.  The one bad hair image could trump everything else and the potential client may assume they think that hair is acceptable and will end up not hiring them. This happens ALL THE TIME. It’s likely happened to you and you don’t even realize it.  And ONE job often leads to an entirely successful career.  So don’t let it happen to you and certainly do not do it to other people!

That being said, I also do not want anyone being accused of not crediting crew.  So my suggestions are always to type the crew credits when using social media.  However, not to automatically tag people.  Instead, I suggest that you send a quick message with a link to your post that you credited the crew in and say, I don’t want to assume that you wish to be tagged in the images I’m posting but I have credited you.  Please feel free to tag yourself in the image(s) at this link.  Simple as that.  Giving people credit is the industry standard.  Assuming they want you to tag them at all, and especially every time you share or post the pic throughout your career… well, you know what they say about assuming. ;)

Overall, being tagged in images that can actually hurt someone’s relationship with their agent, or harm a career or a reputation.  And this is unacceptable.  Especially once you realize how simple it is to be professional, courteous and still allow people to tag themselves if they wish to have their name attached.  I personally feel that as artists, we do not have the right to make the decisions of how we affect others reputations.  Until it’s happened to you, you won’t grasp how devastating it is.  And if it hasn’t happened to you yet… it’s likely that you are the one doing it to others without realizing it.  There are 100 little lessons to learn on the way up the career ladder and as I often say… “You don’t know what you don’t know until someone enlightens you about what you didn’t know.”

Love and Wisdom,

Donna xoxo

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