A while back (perhaps two months ago?) there was a conversation on twitter about how difficult, if not impossible, it is to find people of color in stock photography.
This is by no means a novel concern.
Long before that conversation–almost a year ago, in fact–Courtney Milan had posted about the issue on her blog. So it’s not surprising that when she learned about Elise Marion setting up a Kickstarter campaign that would showcase the beauty of diversity–of all kinds–Ms Milan would tweet the link.
Considering the size of Ms Milan’s fandom and the number of re-tweets that link got, I wasn’t surprised to see that the project was fully funded within a day. In fact, as of this writing, Mosaic Stock Photos had raised $1,500 over the original amount sought.
That was at the beginning of March. A couple of days ago, it came out paying the models for their time was not considered in the original costs projection posted. Instead, the plan was to do something called TFP. If I understand correctly, this means that the models do not get paid in money, but instead get professional head shots for their portfolio, plus exposure.
Seems like a good enough deal, right? Except for one thing…stock photos are around forever. In the words of former model Rachel Maltese:
In fact, here’s a screenshot of “stock photography/TFP for writers 101” by Ms Maltese :
(remember to click to embiggen, and read each from the bottom up)
As you may well imagine, when this came up, several people who had contributed to Mosaic Stock Photos’ Kickstarter were less than happy, to say the least:
I am very happy to report that, after an exchange with Ms Milan on the subject, Ms Marion posted the following update to Mosaic’s Kickstarter page:
…after hearing the suggestions of concerned contributors and supporters, we are amending this by also offering our models a royalty. They will earn a percentage of every photo that they appear in that is sold. All of our casting call postings have been changed to reflect that and all models who have already applied will be notified of the change.
Our relationship with our contributors, many of whom will be our first customers, is important to us, and we want to start off with you all on the right foot. We apologize for any concern or confusion this might have caused.
Thank you all again for your generosity, and your patience and understanding as we work to get Mosaic Stock off the ground.
While I confess that I would love to see the royalty percentage spelled out somewhere for transparency’s sake (the website is under construction, and the casting call only says that this “will be discussed with the models hired”), this is the kind of things sensible and responsible adults do: address concerns, consider valid criticism, and change course accordingly.
Would that we saw more of this happening…everywhere, actually.